laine Steffen is the assistant primary Sabbath School leader at the Cashmere Seventh-day Adventist Church in Washington State. Late this fall, she came across an interesting article in the Mission 360° magazine she was reading. A teacher at an Adventist school in Wisconsin had been using the “Mission to the Cities” Prayer Map as a tool to help her students develop a deeper, more focused prayer life and draw attention to the needs of others around the world.
The Prayer Map, highlighting the more than 580 cities of one million or more worldwide, was created as part of the General Conference’s Mission to the Cities initiative. The poster is designed to look like a subway or metro system with tracks snaking here and there, representing the various regions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Stops on each line indicate cities of one million or more in specific world divisions.
Elaine had been brainstorming on how to involve the children more directly in mission. As she read the article, she felt inspired that the Sabbath School students would enjoy this project as a mission activity. She took her idea to Primary leader Angela Ford. Angela looked briefly at the Prayer Map and said, “Go for it!”
One Sabbath in early November 2020, Elaine tacked the Prayer Map poster to a bulletin board in the classroom and introduced the idea to her Sabbath School students. She explained that each subway line is a different region of the world and that the large circles on each track represent large cities in that country. She asked each child to choose a metro line and pray for one city on that line per week.
Realizing that young children don’t always know what to pray, Elaine and Angela prepared prayers on cards for the students to use if needed. More than simply asking God to “be with this city,” the cards point out specific areas of concern: educational opportunities, hunger, family dynamics, missionaries, homelessness, those with addictions, and those who are persecuted for their religious beliefs. In this way, the children learn how to pray, what to pray for, and how to address certain issues in prayer.
Elaine says that the project has been fun for the students. “They can’t wait to get over to the corner, grab a marker, and see what their next city is,” she said, smiling. She does a bit of research in advance about the next city on their tracks so she can tell them about the region they are praying for. Angela also sends a text message to the parents, informing them of the city their child is praying for that week so that the whole family can pray together.
One little girl, whose family adopted her from China, chose to pray for the China Union Mission. The second stop on her metro line was her birth city. What an amazing experience for her to pray specifically for those in the city and country of her birth to know the love of Jesus! Another child chose to pray for the South American Division and came to a city on his track where his mother had served as a student missionary. The mission to that city suddenly became more real to him and his family.
Angela says that is exactly what they hope the children will take away from this experience. “I want them to see the importance of praying for world mission and be aware of the different needs in other countries. I want them to develop the ability to, or even desire for, praying for other people.”
Elaine adds, “I want them to learn that outreach is so important, whether it’s foreign missions or here in the United States. The bigger picture to me is not only their service but that they desire Jesus to come. This is a way they can help—whether it’s through their (mission) offerings or their prayers, they can get involved.”
If you would like more information on the Mission to the Cities Prayer Map or would like your own free copy, visit MissionToTheCities.org.