Of the 9 worship styles for kids, a child that leans toward the contemplative style is likely a very loving child, and maybe has even sensed God’s love for them. They might spend a lot of time thinking, and can easily imagine God as a friend. But how can you help your contemplative child learn how to love Jesus more than anything?
Watch the video to find out, or read the transcript below!
“Look mommy! I made a journal.”
My 6-year-old son thrust several sticky notes in my face. On each page he had drawn hearts around a word. One page had the word “God” in the middle, another had the word “nature”, and still another, “family”. This boy has a deep sense of the love of God for others.
A philosopher named James K.A. Smith says that “humans are not fundamentally thinking beings. We’re not even primarily believing beings, but at our core, he wrote, we are ‘defined fundamentally by love.’ So schools, teachers, and churches that try to change people by giving them information fail to address the core issue: we become what we love.”
The Apostle John understood this. He spent most of 1 John talking about God’s love and how it should form our lives. But how can our kids understand God’s extravagant love for them, and learn to love him back?
A contemplative prayer for beginners (and kids!)
You can help any child learn to contemplate God’s love a little deeper by sharing an ancient prayer called “The Jesus Prayer”. It’s very simple; you simply say this:
“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
Seriously, that’s the whole prayer!
The purpose of this prayer is to practice the presence of God, to remind yourself that
- Jesus is with you,
- he is Lord
- that he loves you
- and gives you mercy.
The prayer was first written down by Abba Phileomon (a monk from the sixth century).
This simple prayer is one way to learn to pray continually, as Paul urges in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. When teaching it to your child, you can encourage them to breathe in as they say “Lord Jesus Christ”, and breathe out as they say “have mercy on me.”
Other contemplative practices for kids and adults
Another simple prayer you can teach your kids is to breath in and think “God loves me”, and breathe out while thinking “I love God”.
You can also try a slow, contemplative reading of Scripture. This is another ancient Christian practice, called Lectio Divina. You can read more about that in this specific post all about lectio divina for kids.
Some kids will more naturally be drawn to this sort of thoughtful practice. These children may lean toward a contemplative worship style. The heart of the contemplative is all about loving God.
A picture book for the contemplative Christian child
If you’re looking for a simple book that emphasizes God’s love, I recommend Rick Warren’s “God’s Great Love For You”. It’s very short, but deep. I recommend it for preschool-age kids because it is so short, but everyone can use a reminder of God’s great love, right?
When my 7-year old son read it, he grinned from ear to ear the whole time. I asked him what he liked about it and he said,
“That God’s love never ends, and he loves you on good days and bad days, every millisecond of your life.”
Now that’s a message I want my kids to internalize.
You can ask your local Christian bookstore to bring in “God’s Great Love For You”, or order it from any Amazon bookstore here. If you’re in the US, you can use the Amazon link below as well.
More on Sacred Pathways
This article was specifically about the Contemplative worship style and seeing God through quietness and sacrifice, but did you know there are actually 9 worship styles for kids?
I have a downloadable quiz that you can take which will help you determine which of the 9 worship styles your child leans toward. Take the quiz here.
The concept of Sacred Pathways comes from Gary Thomas’ book by the same name. Check out Sacred Pathways on Amazon.
More Sacred Pathways for Kids
- The Traditionalist Pathway
- A longer article: How to help your child grow spiritually
- A shorter article and video: One practical tip for teaching children about Jesus
- The Sensate Pathway
- A longer article: God gave us 5 senses: Here’s how our kids can use them to worship God
- A shorter article and video: Helping our kids engage God with all 5 senses
- The Naturalist Pathway
- A shorter article and video: Seeing God Through Nature
- The Intellectual Pathway
- This longer article on 5 ways to help an intellectual child grow in faith
- A shorter article and video: How to help your intellectual child with God through this one simple question
- The Activist Pathway
- This shorter article (with video) on how to help the world as a child
- This longer article: A Christian parents’ guide to encouraging child activism
- The Ascetic Pathway
- The Contemplative Pathway
- This article: Helping kids learn how to love Jesus more than anything
- The Enthusiast Pathway
- This article: Helping children embrace the mystery in Christianity