Autumn is a gorgeous time of year to spend extra minutes outdoors. In fact, November 17 is National Take a Hike Day, a day set aside to encourage families to breathe fresh air, get the heart pumping, and soak in the beauty of natural surroundings.
Plan to take lots of hikes this month and while doing so, instill a heart for prayer in your children by turning the hike into a prayer walk. Tell your children you’re going to focus the prayer time in a specific order that will include thoughts on: God, Community, Friends, Family, and Self.
Encourage your children to use various fall indicators as an impetus to a prayer response. For example, when they point out color changes in maple trees, birch trees, hickory trees, or others, ask leading questions that follow the categories listed above.
Ask your children something along the lines of, “How do the changes in the leaves remind you about God?”
You may get a variety of responses, but hopefully, someone will mention that God created all of the trees and plants. Remind them of verses like Genesis 1:12—“The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
Follow up that conversation with a prayer, thanking God for his creations.
Someone may mention that even though the earth changes in many ways with each season, God remains the same; God never changes. Remind the kids of Hebrews 13:8—“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” And, Malachi 3:6—“For I the Lord do not change.”
Encourage someone on the prayer walk to pray, thanking God that He never changes.
Next, move the conversation towards “community” prayers by asking a guided question like, “How do all these different leaves remind you about your community?”
Perhaps someone will mention the generalization that although the leaves are different shapes and sizes and colors, they’re all leaves. Use those comments as a segue to share Genesis 1:27—“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” And, Galatians 3:28—“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Encourage someone to pray, asking God for each member of the family to be mindful and appreciative of the diversity of God’s human creations and to be kind to all of God’s children.
In a similar manner, help your children see that the variety of leaf colors and shapes make a beautiful picture of how friends can be different sizes and shapes and colors too. Include in the friend discussion verses like, Proverbs 17:17—“A friend loves at all times.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:11—“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Take turns praying for family members’ friends with specific requests that you are aware of or with general requests.
Guide your children next to pray specifically for family, perhaps with a guided question as, “Can you think of a change in a family member’s life that we should pray about?” Perhaps there’s been a job change or a major change in an extracurricular activity of a family member or maybe somebody lost a tooth! Take turns praying for those family members with big changes and little changes and everything in-between.
End the leaf-changing, prayer time discussion with the opportunity for each family member to share praises and requests. To generate ideas for prayers, ask, “How do these changing leaves remind me to pray about myself?” Someone might want to thank God for the creative gifts He’s given them, while another person might pray for help getting along with a friend who is different. Another person might pray for strength to get through a changing season in life.
Use the topic guide of God, Community, Friends, Family, and Self with other seasonal sightings on the walk to encourage communication with God during the prayer walk. Turn walks into opportunities to talk with God, sharing praises, requests, and supplications.
Oh, and be sure to take a cell phone with you on the hike, to snap pictures of beautiful fall scenery, and to take a few selfies as a reminder of the family hike. You may also need to use the phone to do a verse search to meet the needs of your children’s responses.
Get outside often this season and turn each hike into a prayer walk. It’s a great way to encourage a heart of “praying without ceasing.”
Julie Lavender is a former homeschooling mom with more than twenty-five years of experience in six states as a military wife. She is mom to four and grandmommy to an almost-two-year-old that she hopes to assist with homeschooling lessons one day in the future. Julie blogs monthly for homeschooling websites and is the author of the recently-released parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories.