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During the month of January, IFGF churches worldwide are uniting for a 21-day Prayer and Fasting movement to launch the new year and commit the entire year into the hands of the Lord.

This prayer and fasting movement is a vital practice for believers because we recognize the tremendous power it possesses. Unfortunately, many people believe it is only suitable for adults. For children, it is often considered unnecessary due to their young age. However, children can harness the same power when they pray and fast.

This article will offer ideas to involve children, particularly those between the ages of 6 and 12 (elementary school age), in prayer and fasting activities suitable for their age. The aim is to help them willingly comprehend the importance of prayer and fasting in their lives, rather than feeling compelled to do so. Let’s learn together.

Why is it important for children to fast?

  • To understand God’s will in their lives. Knowing God’s will is not solely the responsibility of adults but also for every child so that they can do their best by God’s desires. When children pray, fast, and dedicate more time to reading God’s word, they can discover God’s will for them and learn how to live it out.
  • To surrender the entire year to God. Just as adults have various issues in terms of relationships, work, daily life, or thoughts, children also face challenges in their lives. As parents, we can teach them to surrender each of these issues to God and walk through them with God. This is accomplished through prayer and fasting.
  • To express their desires to God. As parents, we don’t always have to fulfill all of our children’s wishes immediately. It’s good to teach children to wait or even work towards getting what they want. One thing we can teach them is that they can convey their desires to God through prayer, supplemented by fasting. When they learn to pray and fast, God will work in their hearts so that even if they don’t receive what they desire, they can still believe that God provides the best for them beyond what they can imagine.

How to encourage children to fast? There are several alternatives to do so:

1. Children can be encouraged to fast from activities they enjoy, such as fasting from playing games or watching TV, and replacing that playtime with other activities like reading and meditating on God’s word, reading a book, creating artwork, etc.

2. Children can be encouraged to fast from unhealthy foods they like, such as junk food, snacks, sugary drinks, etc., and replace them with healthier foods that they might not like as much. Here, children learn to discipline themselves while still receiving the necessary nutrition for their bodies.

3. Older children can be encouraged to fast from one meal, for example, skipping lunch but still having breakfast and dinner.

4. If children are not yet able to fast for the full 21 days, they can start with a 3-day fast or fasting on specific days, etc.

Parents can offer a special reward to motivate children to do this if they complete it. Don’t forget to participate with them so that they don’t feel forced to do it alone, but rather see you as setting an example by fasting together.

Encouraging children to engage in prayer and fasting should begin with a real example and some extra effort on our part as parents to make it fun and meaningful for them. But what we instill in their hearts and lives regarding the importance of prayer and fasting will help them become strong individuals in the Lord and understand what God wants in their lives. So let’s make an effort to do it consistently, as Deuteronomy 6:7 says:

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Start doing it now, and one day, we will surely reap the rewards.

Source: Ps. Ancella Gunawan (Global Kids Coordinator)

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