I’ve had a lot of requests lately, especially since my interview on Carmelite Conversations, for more details on teaching children to pray. So I’ve decided to write a step-by-step post to help you create these meditations for your children or students. I will walk you through a meditation I created for my boys. We’ll use the story of David and Goliath as a basis for this meditation, because everyone is familiar with it.
You can write a meditation for your kids without first praying over the Scripture passage yourself. I was making a Bible-based curriculum for the boys for a few years before I realized how akin it was to Christian meditation. At that point, I tried meditating on the Scripture passage first. What happened?
The lesson became more personal. I was more excited about it. My kids and I were then focusing on the same things in our spiritual lives. How cool is that? I taught with more enthusiasm and gained a deeper connection with them.
Step 1: Read and Meditate on the story yourself
So, find a Bible and read I Kings 17. This is a long story, so I encourage you to read it outside your prayer time. You don’t want to spend all your time with God reading. You want to spend your time in conversation with Him.
Then set aside about thirty minutes for prayer, alone in a quiet place where no one will interrupt you. Place yourself in God’s presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your meditation.
Ask yourself: What is this story about? Who are the main characters? What lesson does God want me to take from it?
The most obvious lesson from David and Goliath is courage to fight your enemies. Who are your enemies in the spiritual life? What fears keep you from loving God and others as you should? Do you fear failure? Do you fear betrayal? Do you fear having to let go of your material possessions?
Talk to God about these fears. Offer then to Him. Ask Him to show you how to work to overcome them.
Thank and praise Him for His direction and strength.
Make one specific resolution to work on your fears.
Step 2: Relate this theme to your kids’ lives
As a parent, you probably know what your children struggle with. Teachers will have to go for more general struggles that are typical of the age group they teach.
What are your kids afraid of? What are their spiritual enemies?
When we studied David and Goliath a couple years ago, we talked about “your inner bully.” That’s the voice inside your head that tempts you to do your own will instead of God’s. I knew my boys could relate to the idea of bullies. I wanted them to learn to fight against their baser selves and listen to their well-formed consciences.
Step 3: Find another story to illustrate your point
Search Amazon or your library’s online catalog for books on bullies. I look for books from familiar authors, award-winning titles, and those with four or five stars. Here are some options: Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney (for preschoolers), and Jungle Bullies by Steven Kroll (ages 5-8). Or read any stories on courage from The Book of Virtues by William Bennett.
Step 4: Connect the story to other academic subjects (optional)
If you are homeschooling, try to connect the story to math, science, music, sports, art, or history as well. These can relate to any aspect of the story, not just your primary focus of courage. Here are some examples:
- Sing “Little David, Play on Your Harp.”
- Use Psalm 27:1 for memorization and copy work (handwriting).
- Learn how to make your own sling shot (if you dare try this one).
- Research armor and weapons in the bronze age.
- Study the painting above. Discuss how it makes David and Goliath into medieval characters. Make a pastel or crayon version with your own twists (perhaps in 21st century garb).
- Go on a nature walk and collect interesting rocks.
- Check out books on fencing.
I encourage even those in a classroom setting to try at least one of these activities with students.
Step 5: Read the story aloud
Have the children narrate it back to you, either orally or on paper, depending on their age. Encourage them to include as many details as they can remember. Discuss new vocabulary.
Tell the kids about your meditation, and any fears you are working on. Introduce the idea of an inner bully. Why don’t we always want to do God’s will? Do they sometimes feel they are fighting a battle in order to be obedient? What can they do to overcome temptation? Be specific here, especially with your own kids. Which sins are hardest for them to fight?
Look over the prayer below for more specific ideas.
Then do the other activities you decide upon.
Step 6: Pray with them
Here is the prayer I composed to end this unit with my boys. You read aloud the first two paragraphs, then they repeat the last prayer after you :
In the Name of the Father…
Close your eyes and imagine you are David. You stand facing the tallest and strongest man you have ever seen. Goliath towers over you by more than two feet. He is dressed in brass armor, while you wear only your shepherd’s clothes. You are naturally afraid, but you put your trust in God. You know God wants you to win this battle. You feel His courage surging through you as you fit a stone in your sling. (Pause)
Now imagine that your greatest enemy is within you. Due to original sin, part of you wants to be selfish, greedy, and angry. When you feel your enemy, your “inner bully”, towering over you, you can trust God to help you win the battle. You can slay your desire to sin as David slayed Goliath. (Pause)
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, when you were on earth, you fought against your enemy, the Devil, to bring us victory over sin. Help me to be your good soldier. When I am tired of fighting, or think I cannot win, give me the strength and courage to continue to fight well. Help me to overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Amen.
In the Name of the Father…
More meditations to come
Does this seem to difficult for you to do from scratch? We all have different gifts and talents. Over the rest of this year, I hope to share with you many more of the meditations I have made. I may even write a book in a year or two.
Share with us: What other lessons for the spiritual life do you see in the story of David and Goliath? How might we apply them to children?