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Prayer

Thinking about different types of prayer

by Jill Fuller

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To think about different forms of prayer. To help children understand that prayer is a part of all major faiths and was an important part of the life of Jesus. To help them to be comfortable with both stillness and silence as ways of prayer.

Preparation and materials

Make a display which can act as a focus for the worship. It could include some of the following: candle, cross, bowl of flowers, icon, rosary, prayer mat, prayer wheel, stone.

Assembly

  1. Introduce the concept of prayer with some basic explanation. Prayer is part of all major faiths. Talk about how every person who prays does so in their own way. People sometimes go to special places to pray: church, synagogue, mosque. Discuss how some people find it easier to pray in the open, when they are walking, or sitting in a quiet place.

    Some people use special aids to help them to concentrate. Show the items from the display, e.g. using a prayer mat or a prayer wheel, a rosary or holding a special object like a stone. Some people like to focus on a candle, a cross, an icon or some beautiful flowers. Some people take up a special position to pray, like kneeling, meditation poses, etc..

  2. Point out that Jesus took time to pray and thought that prayer was important. Read Luke 5.16: '(Jesus) would go away to lonely places, where he prayed'. See also Mark 1.35: 'He went out of the town to a lonely place, where he prayed', and Matthew 14.22-23: 'Then Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people away. After sending the people away, he went up a hill by himself to pray.'

  3. If appropriate, you could remind the children of other times when Jesus prayed, and point out that they included all kinds of moods and occasions: times when he was happy, thankful, sad, tired, confused or frightened. Matthew 19.13: Jesus blesses the children with prayer; Mark 6.41: Jesus gives thanks before the feeding of the 5,000; Mark 14.32-36: Jesus prays to God in the garden of Gethsemane. Explain that Christians believe in a loving God who wants to share all our hopes and fears and that prayer is a way of sharing our lives with God. Prayer can be a time when we give thanks, say we are sorry, or ask for help. Point out that even people who do not believe in a God often find it helpful to be still and silent, just to think.
  4. Read the following poem and ask the children to think about it - how would they answer the questions?
    Is that praying?
    By Gordon Lamont

    I'm running a race and I want to be first
    'Please God, let me win'
    I say - but do I pray?
    Is that praying?

    I'm playing with my friends
    And everything's fine
    I lose track of time.
    I'm glad to be alive today, I say
    To no one in particular.
    Is that praying?

    Things have gone wrong
    An argument - a fight
    I couldn't sleep at all last night.
    Dear God, please put things right.
    Is that praying?

Time for reflection

Ask the children to make themselves comfortable so that they can be very still. They should decide whether they want to close their eyes or focus on something on the display. Take the next minute to reflect on and remember the presence of God, or think about the day ahead.

Dear God,
Thank you that we can always talk to you:
Whoever we are,
Wherever we are,
Whatever we feel.

Thank you that you hear what we say,
And what we do not say.
You know what we mean
Even when we don't know ourselves.
Amen.

Song/music

'Shalom' (Come and Praise 2, 141)
'Be still and know that I am God' (Taizé chant)
'Be still and know that I am God' (from There is one among us: Shorter songs for worship, John Bell, Wild Goose Publications ISBN 1-901557-10-3)

Curriculum links

  • RE: Look at different ways of praying in different faiths.
  • History: Find a prayer from the particular period being studied, e.g. a Celtic prayer, a Collect from Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer, a Victorian prayer.
  • Music: Look at hymn writing as prayer in song.
Publication date: October 2000   (Vol.2 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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