How do we help our kids connect with God?
Most parents want their kids to learn to love God. But most of us struggle to facilitate real spiritual experiences. It's hard enough to have a meaningful conversation with our kids about spiritual things, let alone help them experience true transformation in the presence of God.
Jared Patrick Boyd discovered that children's spiritual formation is rooted in the imagination. When we lead our children through guided times of imaginative prayer, they can experience a connection with God that transcends mere Bible knowledge or doctrinal content. This unique resource provides six units of weekly guided imaginative prayer, themed around core topics: God's love, loving others, forgiveness, God as king, the good news of God, and the mission of God. Each unit has six sessions, providing a yearlong experience of spiritual formation for children ages five to thirteen.
Through imaginative prayer, you can help your child connect with God. As you do so, you may find yourself connecting more closely with your child, and your own formation as a parent will deepen into greater awareness of God's work in your lives.
"I loved this book! If only it had been around thirty years ago, when our family was exploring devotions! This book is an imaginative game, a devotional guide, and a theology text all rolled into one. It will nurture your own spiritual formation as much as your child's. The guided prayers that form the core of this book are well constructed, creative, and simply delightful. Boyd is not afraid to introduce difficult questions, but he helps me as a parent talk about them with my children. Imaginative Prayer develops essential skills of Christian spiritual formation—skills that are often neglected in the training of our children. I would recommend this book to parents, Christian education workers, and theology professors. We all need to imagine the gospel!"
"This is not a book for reading. It's a book for practicing. Jared Boyd graciously invites us to practice new ways of being present to God, ourselves, others, and creation, for and with the younger children (or childlike ones) in our lives. Not surprisingly, we are all transformed in the process. By gently making room and time for creative listening, imagination, and revelation of God's very good news of lavish love, children young and old together come to know God by experiencing this love that surpasses knowledge. From his experience as a parent, a pastor, and a beloved child of God, Jared sets forth practical, prayerful, and playful rhythms to tend the spiritual gardens of our children's lives. These habit-forming, love-shaping practices soften and seed the soil of their Christian imaginations, which the Holy Spirit tends, waters, and grows as he conforms them in love to the image of Jesus. Reminding us not to ask children (or anyone) to go where we are not willing to go ourselves, Jared vulnerably does the same, offering clear, creedal, formative structures with room for the dynamic relationship our children will have with God. Far from instilling knowledge about God into our children, Jared invites us to provide opportunities for our children to encounter and be transformed by God's triune love, faithfully embodying that life together with them as children of our heavenly Father."
"In the age of social media, so many of us struggle to be present to those closest to us and to God, who is an ever-abiding presence with us. Jared Boyd's extraordinary book Imaginative Prayer introduces us to a way of learning to be present to those closest to us—our children—and together with them to learn to use our imaginations to become more attentive to God's presence with us. Read this book slowly and carefully, and experiment with it: you, your family, and your church will undoubtedly be transformed!"
"As a pastor, I have regularly taught that parents are the most important spiritual influencers in their child's life. But how do we parents do that job well? I would highly recommend Imaginative Prayer to anyone who wants to help their children know and experience God. Jared Boyd engages not only the life of the mind, but also the life of the imagination through each session. His exercises help transform large theological themes like God's love, forgiveness, and the mission of God from the head to the heart, so that parents can be the spiritual influencers we want to be."
"In this book of depth and whimsy, Jared Boyd inspires the imagination with new ways of engaging children in the work of the Spirit. I will be using this book for years to come, not only with the ministry leaders I teach, but with my own children! Jared's book speaks to a deep need felt within the church and within the lives of parents to help our children learn new and creative ways to engage with what the Holy Spirit is doing in their lives and in the world today. The result is a book that is practical and reflective: a deep reflection on a way of approaching the inner spiritual life of children."
"As a spiritual director, I understand the importance of formational experiences with Jesus rather than knowledge about Jesus. As a mother, I have struggled to find language and resources to transcend my own awkward efforts to help my daughter know right things about God and instead establish a real, lived relationship with God. Jared Boyd's work in Imaginative Prayer is a gift to my mother's heart and, I believe, a gift to the body of Christ as a whole. Our children aren't just the future of the church, they are the church right now. Jared's rooted, Scriptural, and deeply relational guidance is the kind of resource families and congregations simply must pick up if we are to journey together into all that Jesus has for us in this fraught and fractious time. Jared's words are wise, strong, kind, and godly—just like Jesus' when he said, 'the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these' (Mt 19:14)."
"Jared Patrick Boyd invites parents to walk alongside their children into a fuller experience of who God is and his work in us and the world through the beautiful and powerful gift of imagination. These exercises forge a path toward knowing firsthand the love, forgiveness, faithfulness, invitation, good news, and remaking that are ours in Jesus. Be ready for a deep, transformative encounter with the divine, for both your child and yourself. We enthusiastically recommend this book!"
"We are shaped not primarily though information-gathering but through practices and experiences that work their way into us, forming our appetites and kindling our imaginations. Many of us want to invite our kids into the miracle of knowing God in prayer and through the Scriptures, but we often aren't sure where to start. Imaginative Prayer is a great gift to parents (or godparents, aunts, uncles, and anyone who loves children) because it offers a guide for us grownups to engage our kids with the gospel holistically—not just their minds but also their hearts and imaginations. These prayer exercises are theologically rich yet elegant, even refreshing, in their simplicity. Here is an invitation to wonder, to surprise, to creative engagement with God. Walking through these practices with our kids was delightful and nourishing, not only for our kids but for us parents as well."
"As the wise ancients have made clear, prayer is not part of life; it is life. But to pray—to live with God in the world as God lives and to be formed in the image of our older brother Jesus—necessarily requires the marshaling of our imagination. And it is our imagination that leads to the neuroplastic change—flexible alterations in our neuron firing patterns—to which St. Paul was referring when speaking of the renewal of our minds. With Imaginative Prayer, Jared Boyd has given us a treasure that reveals not only what children need to flourish in their spiritual formation but, even more, what we adults need—we who are woefully undernourished in the practice of truly, robustly imagining God living with us. If the deeper, more joyful, more resilient life is what you seek for your children (and for yourself), then look no further to find what perhaps has been just beyond your imagination but now expectantly awaits your discovery of it."
"While imaginative prayer is powerfully transformative for adults, we have to work through our culturally conditioned tendency to equate imagination with fantasy in order to engage in it. But I've often wondered how much more powerful this sort of prayer would be if taught to children before they had learned to distrust their imaginations. Imaginative Prayer is the book I've been waiting for! With clarity, spiritual insight, practical wisdom, and powerful examples, Jared Boyd walks us step by step through the process of helping children experience the love of God in tangible ways that will form their characters for the rest of their lives. Everyone who has the privilege of influencing the spiritual formation of children, from parents to Sunday school teachers, needs to read and utilize this invaluable book!"
"Jared Boyd has given Christian families a gift with this imaginative and practical guide to Bible study and prayer. While attending the same church as Jared, I saw firsthand the ways that his masterful storytelling and simple ideas for next steps excite children and adults alike with the message of Scripture, inspiring them to live out the story of the Bible in their own families."
"Jared Patrick Boyd's Imaginative Prayer is really a gift for generations. It is a guide that was lived long before it was written. In the two years we have used the guide in our church, it has awakened young and old to new ways of letting God come close in prayer and of experiencing in deep and tangible ways being loved by God and becoming that love in the world around them. Warning: once your children and teachers have awakened their imagination in prayer, you may find heaven coming to earth."
"Imaginative Prayer opened up the Bible again for our kids and gave them an intimate and fresh experience of God's love and activity in their lives. As the pastor of our kids' ministry, I was able to recruit teachers just by sending them a sample of the curriculum. They would read through and respond immediately, asking to be put on for a seven-week block of teaching. It was amazing! And the children responded with encouraged faith and curiosity about God and his Word. This is the first material where I had a child ask me if she could have a copy of what we did in class to take home and read over on her own. Amazing and wonderful!"
"Jared Boyd's material is an invitation to explore the goodness of the kingdom of God through imaginative story. The heartbeat of Jesus' love is masterfully threaded into every narrative—gently and powerfully growing in the hearts and minds of children as they interact with it. Appealing to both the young and the young at heart: parents, grandparents, and teachers, you'll be surprised at your own experience! It is rich soil for spiritual formation and the fruit is abundant!"
"We are glad to hear about anyone who is able to make the connection between this spiritual practice and both spiritual direction and spiritual formation. This is the kind of nurturing that is necessary for the transformation and renewal of Christian families and communities.
Imaginative Prayer Creedal Poem
How to Use This Book
Part I: God's Love
1. God Loves So Many Things
2. He Loves Me
3. When I Am Lost, He Will Come Looking for Me
4. When I Am Sick, He Wants to Heal Me
5. When I Make Mistakes, He Will Always Have Grace on Me
6. There Is Nothing That Can Separate Me from the Love of God
Part II: Loving Others
7. God Invites Us to Live a Life of Love
8. Love Looks Like Being Patient and Kind and Not Making a List of People's Mistakes
9. Love Looks Like Inviting People Who May Be Left Out
10. Love Looks Like Taking Care of People When They Need Help
11. We Love Others with the Love That God Pours into Us
12. People Will Know That We Are Followers of Jesus Because of Our Love for Each Other
Part III: Forgiveness
13. Forgiveness Means We Can Have Peace with God
14. Forgiveness Means God Welcomes Anyone
15. Forgiveness Means God Takes Away Our Sin
16. Forgiveness Means We Can Forgive the Sins of Others
17. When We Forgive, We Will Be Forgiven. When We Give, It Will Be Given unto Us
18. Love and Forgiveness Make Room for Reconciliation
Part IV: Jesus Is the King
19. Jesus Is the King Who Came to Undo the Power of Death
20. Jesus Is the King Who Came to Defeat the Power of Sin
21. Jesus Is the King Who Came to Defeat the Power of the Accuser
22. Jesus Is a Faithful King, Even When We Don't Have Faith
23. We Have Life with God Through the Faithfulness of Jesus the King
24. God Became King Through Love and Forgiveness
Part V: The Good News of God
25. God Made Us a Promise, and It Comes to Us Through Jesus
26. The Good News of God Comes to Us Through the Words of Jesus
27. The Good News of God Comes to Us Through the Life of Jesus
28. The Good News of God Comes to Us Through the Death of Jesus
29. The Good News of God Comes to Us Through the Resurrection of Jesus
30. We Receive the Promises of God When We Choose to Follow Jesus
Part XI: The Mission of God
31. When We Choose to Follow Jesus, We Join the Mission of God to Bring His Love into the World
32. The Mission of God Is to Make Everything in the World Good Again
33. The Mission of God Is to Bring All Things Under the Reign of King Jesus
34. The Mission of God Is to Bring Peace and Reconciliation to Everything
35. The Mission of God Is to Take Away the Veil That Covers Up the Presence of God
36. God Is at Work All Around Us: Open Your Eyes and Join God in His Mission to the World