By The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Fourth graders are great: they are developing listening and speaking skills so they are more ready and interested in meaningful discussions at church. They can’t sit still for long, but our Sunday morning for fourth graders is divided up into worship (with prayers and songs and a message) and classroom (with name games, a short film, an activity and a conversation) so they can more deeply pay attention in every important part of the morning. And, yes, they’re experiencing rapid physical growth, so we have a large room for them with huge bean bag chairs spaced well apart to help avoid accidental bumps and spills.

As fourth graders start to feel the pressure of school, as well as navigating the complexities of their social life in sports and friendships, expectations shoot up, triggering self-critique and worry. They need lots of encouragement, and we know that the prayer practices at church (like writing down or telling someone about your joys and worries, and then praying them to God) can be reintroduced at home as a source of comfort and calm. Try this breathing prayer: “God, I breathe in your love, I breathe out all worries.” Or walk the labyrinth. Or write a letter of gratitude to someone you love. Or rest: God calls us to rest.

A friend said it this way, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” We hope that with your fourth grader, we can begin to live into a deep life of prayer, and an attitude of kindness and generosity that makes a holy and life-saving difference in this complicated world. May it be so.