There are many opportunities to engage children during the season of Lent. I like to use this season to encourage the children in my class to develop a new prayer habit, especially a habit that they can bring home to their families.
Last year my class used Lenten prayer sticks, which were very popular. I wondered why, and it dawned on me that having something tangible made prayer time hard to ignore. Parents could more easily engage in prayer with their children when they had a tangible object to start with, especially when praying as a family is not a regular habit.
Because each prayer stick had one activity written on it for the week, I thought I could maintain their interest a little longer if they had more. I wasn’t sure how to do this until I saw a “grace cube” in a store. Each side of the wooden cube had a different grace on it. That led me to think about a “prayer cube” for Lent. I looked at several options; you can buy wooden cubes and foam cubes in various sizes. I decided they would be hard to write on or decorate for younger children, and I was looking for a less-expensive option.
I found a cube template online and copied it onto an 8½ x 11-inch sheet of card stock. I added some prayers and activities on each side, leaving room for the children to color or decorate. The cutting part wasn’t difficult, but I enlisted a couple of extra parents to help with the taping that day.
Originally I was going to make it a “Lent cube” with two activities each for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. As I started testing ideas, however, I realized that families might have their own traditions. I changed it to a prayer cube with one panel for a Rice Bowl donation (a tradition in our parish) and one panel for the children to choose their own prayer topic.
Each day—perhaps at dinner time when everyone is together—the child will roll his or her prayer cube to determine that day’s prayer. Since there are six possibilities, siblings can roll the cube to participate as well.
This activity can be customized easily for your class. You could come up with all of the ideas for prayer yourself or work with the class to come up with ideas. For example, you could add one idea for prayer to the cube and let the children come up with ideas for the other sides. You could also include a prayer from your church’s patron saint. You could make a giant version for classroom use. I made one that we use to determine our classroom prayer.
Another benefit of an activity like this is that it lets the child be in control of the prayer, to a small extent. I think children often hear, “Today, we’ll pray for so-and-so,” or, “Let’s pray this prayer,” and zone out a little bit. Letting them be in charge of prayer time requires them to be active participants, and this is how a relationship with Jesus can be built.
Christ Our Life program users, the Grade 7 Blackline Masters include a cube template as part of a different activity.