I recently read the book The God Who Sees You by Tammy Maltby. In this book, Tammy Maltby mentions how the “Israelites would pile up pillars of stones—stones of remembrance—to commemorate times when God moved powerfully and showed Himself to them.” (46% Kindle Edition) Joshua 4 (verses 1-9) is one example of the children of Israel using stacked stone as a memorial for their children.
As I said in my last article, Prayer, the Perfect Communication, I’ve been focusing on my prayer life over the past few years. But when I came across this section in this book, I immediately began wondering how I could incorporate this visual memorial in my own prayer life.
Being the bottom-line person that I am, I thought, let’s just get a decorative jar in our house and use small river rocks or even those decorative glass rocks and add a stone to the jar every time God answers one of our prayers or works specifically in our lives. What an awesome visual reminder that would be! And that might be a direction that we head for in our house.
But I took that river rock a step further and thought, how cool would it be to write our prayers or answered prayers onto the river rocks before we put them in the jar? And then I took it even one more step by wondering how I could incorporate this visual memorial for the kids in my Bible study class—a group of five kids ranging in age from 8 to 13 years old.
On Sundays, the teacher for the kids’ class rotates and they're currently studying the Old Testament, but I’m the regular teacher for our Wednesday nights and we’ve recently started the New Testament. However, every third Wednesday of the month our group focuses on prayer, and the kids are learning about how to pray and to focus on God’s answer to our prayers. I like the idea of the kids being able to go back and re-read what God has done for them as well as the visual reminder of the multitude of stones stacked up, especially for the kids. But children might have difficulty writing on river rock. So why not just use decorative paper? And that is the idea that I ran with.
I went to my local crafts supply store and purchased a decorative bowl for each child in my class. I then bought acrylic paint that is safe to use on glass and a few stencils. I surveyed the kids beforehand and let them pick a color and one of the stencils, either a tree representative of the Garden of Eden or angel wings, for decoration that I would use on their bowl without telling them what its purpose was. I painted their name and their choice of stencil pattern on their bowl according to each child’s choice.
Next I wrote a prayer for each child in my class. I wanted the prayer to be individualized for each child and what I see to be their needs, but also similar enough that if one child read another’s prayer they wouldn’t view any favoritism. I placed each child’s prayer in their bowl and requested that they not share their prayers with each other.
I explained to the kids that while they could write down their prayer requests and place them in the bowl, I’d prefer for them to write down the prayers that God has answered and place those in the bowl. They can certainly do both, but the purpose of the bowl is to be a visual reminder of God’s activity in their lives.
The kids loved it. Of course they liked playing with their bowls just as much as anything else, but I gave them several pieces of colored paper—letting them choose which colors they wanted. And I ask them continually when I see them if they’ve added any answered prayers to their bowls. While some of them say no when I ask, I pray that the continual prodding will serve as a reminder to them and eventually they will remember on their own.
However, I’ve had an extremely positive reaction from a few of the students and one child in particular. And that is what I call a success. If only one child benefits from this activity, then God’s purpose is served (Luke 15:1-7). Here are a few prayers from this child to illustrate.
As you can see from the pictures, this child is extremely excited about their prayer life right now. All of these prayers have been added within the last month. And the visual that this is providing for them is only going to serve to increase their faith in an active God and Father working in their life.
My prayer is that all of the kids will have this much enthusiasm for praying and growing their relationship with God.
The truth is that all of this comes back to that—growing our relationship with God, our Abba Father. If you need a visual reminder of the work that God is doing in your life, why don’t you think about making an adaption of what we’ve come to affectionately call, “the prayer bowl” for your own life. You can go in a hundred different directions. You just need to find whatever works for you. Believe that God will lead you.
If you try the technique or something similar, or if you have used similar methods in the past, please share your experience below. I’d love to learn from you. Thanks for reading!