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Keep On Praying!

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To emphasize the importance of persistence in prayer and consider why some prayers seem to go unanswered.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and five readers. In the dramatization of the parable in the assembly, the leader will also perform the part of the Narrator, and the five readers will play the parts of the Judge, Accused, Widow and two Guards.

    Everyone taking part in the dramatization will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly.

  • Familiarize yourself with the parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18.1–8, on which the dramatization in the assembly is based.

Assembly

Leader: Begin by welcoming the children and start to outline the theme.

Almost immediately, you are (as planned) interrupted by a child who wishes to use the toilet. At first, deny the child permission, but, after much pestering, give in to his/her request. Having gained permission, however, the child says that he/she no longer needs to go.

Inform the children that they have just witnessed one of the world’s strongest powers in action. That power is known as ‘pester power’ and is well known to every child and parent on the earth!

Invite the children to tell you how they have used pester power to get what they wanted in different situations.

Say that Jesus once told a story about pester power, but it didn’t feature a parent and a child. The two people in Jesus’ story were a judge and a widow.

Invite the children who are involved in the dramatization of the parable to join you at the front. You will play the part of the Narrator.

On one side of the stage, re-create a court. The Judge is at the point of passing sentence. The Accused before him is flanked by two Guards. The Widow stands alone on the other side of the stage.

The Parable of the Unjust Judge

Narrator: Once, there was a judge who was the meanest, cruellest judge in the entire country.

Judge (passing sentence): For daring to sneeze in public during daylight hours, I sentence you to 20 years in prison.

Accused: But I’ve got hayfever!

Judge: That’s no excuse. (To the Guards) Take him away.

The Guards lead the Accused away.

Narrator:
In the same town, there lived a poor widow who came to the judge to beg for justice in a case against her.

Widow (approaching the Judge): Please help me, Your Honour.

Judge: Get away from me, woman. Guards! Guards! Help!

The Guards return and drag the Widow away.

Widow:
Justice! I want justice!

Narrator: The widow was determined to fight for her rights. So, wherever the judge went in town, the widow would appear.

The Judge mimes teeing off at a driving range. Just at the point when he is about to strike the ball, the Widow appears, causing him to miss his shot.

Widow
 (imploringly): Justice! I want justice!

Judge: Go away, woman, and leave me alone or I’ll have you arrested.

Widow: Please, you must help me.

Judge: Police! Help!

Two police officers (the Guards) enter and drag the Widow away.

Judge
 (to himself): Good, that’s the end of her.

Narrator: But the widow did not give up so easily . . .

The Judge mimes reading a TV listings magazine.

Judge: Excellent - Bake Off is on later! My favourite programme - I can’t wait.

The Judge is about to switch on his TV when there is a knock on his door.

Judge:
Who could that be?

The Judge mimes opening the door to find the Widow.


Widow: Justice! I want justice!

Judge: Oh no, not you again. Just go away and leave me alone.

Widow: You are the only one who can help me. I have no one else in the world.

Judge: That comes as no surprise to me, madam. Now, go away!

The Judge mimes slamming the door in the Widow’s face.

Narrator:
The widow still did not go away. The next morning, she came to see the judge again.

The Judge, having just got out of bed, yawns and stretches. Suddenly, the Widow appears next to him.

Widow:
Justice! I want justice!

Judge: What are you doing in my bathroom? Get out and give me some peace!

Widow: I’ll only give you peace if you give me justice.

Judge: OK. Whatever. You’ve got it. Now, just leave me alone!

Widow: Thank you, Your Honour. See you in court.

The Widow leaves.

Judge
 (talking to himself, exhausted and resigned): If you must.

Leader: Jesus told his followers a story like this to encourage them not to give up praying. If a mean, cruel judge like this could eventually give into a widow’s persistence, Jesus asked his followers to imagine how a loving and merciful God would respond to the prayers of those who love him.

According to Jesus, God knows what people want even before they ask for it and he is eager to answer their prayers. So, how come it seems that God often says ‘No’ to people’s prayers?

Ask the children to share with you their own experiences of this.

Jesus taught his followers to call God ‘Abba’ (this means ‘Daddy’ in the original Aramaic). Perhaps, then, God sometimes says ‘No’ to people’s prayers for the same reason that parents sometimes say ‘No’ to their children’s requests.

To explore this, we shall now consider several situations where a parent might deny a child’s request.

Ask for a volunteer for each of the following role-play scenarios. You should play the role of the child, while a child plays the role of your parent.

– Child asks parent for a pet wolf.
– Child asks parent to do some task that the child can do for himself/herself.
– Child asks parent to punish sibling with whom child has fallen out.
– Child asks parent for a Christmas present in October.

The outcome of each role play should illustrate Christian views as to why prayers are not answered, such as the following.

– God is not prepared to grant a person something that is dangerous.
– God wants us to do things for ourselves.
– Like a good parent, God loves all his children the same.
– Christians often mistake ‘Not yet’ for ‘No’.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to reflect once again on their own experiences of prayer. Were their prayers denied because of any of the reasons above?

Even though some prayers appear not to work, Christians believe that God is always at work in their lives, although this may be hard to see.

Prayer
Dear God,
Thank you for being a God who listens to our prayers.
Help us to keep praying to you even when it seems that our prayers are not being answered.
May we never forget that, like a loving parent, you only want what is best for us.
Amen.

Song/music

‘I will sing your praises’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 168, 2008 edition)

‘Abba, Father, let me be yours’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 5, 2008 edition)

Follow-up ideas

Find out about people who have changed the world as a result of their persistence, such as William Wilberforce and the suffragettes.

Publication date: March 2018   (Vol.20 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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