So I get to talk to middle schoolers about prayer this week. Yippee! As scary as it sounds, it's not so bad.
Here's the rough draft of what I'm thinking of. I borrowed some of it pretty liberally from re:Jesus
Plus I was really struck by something Tony Jones wrote in The Sacred Way. It's similar to my own experiences
I was raised in a nice, Midwestern, church-going family. I went away to college and got involved in a conservative evangelical college group then went straight to seminary after graduation. In other words, by the time I was 25, my views of God, prayer, the Bible, etc. were pretty screwed up. I had more head-knowledge about faith, religion, whatever you want to call it, than a person should, but I really didn’t seem to be able to put it into practice. I’d say there was one word that summed up my religious life: obligation. I had been taught that the way to connect with God on a daily basis is to have a 30-minute “quiet time.” That is, you should sit down with your Bible open, read it a little, and then lay a bunch of stuff on God, making sure to mention how excellent he1 is before running through the list of all the things you need. I found this style of personal devotion to be a pretty shallow well, and it wasn’t long before I was doing it only every other day, then once a week, and then, well, never. Taking the place of my 30-minute quiet time, however, were hours and hours of that great religious tradition: guilt.
That hits me. Been there, done that. If my personal spiritual life is dry, well there must be a reason. Am I in sin? If I'd only pray and read the Bible more it would all be solved. Maybe I'm not paying attention in church. And while those aren't necessarily bad things to consider, they're not the end-all solutions. We're trying to get to know an almighty, all powerful God. There's no easy formula.
Here's what re:Jesus said... and I liked...
How are you today? Think about one of these questions.
Is today going as I hoped?
In the busyness am I thinking beyond myself?
Am I considering those I am with today?
Do I find it difficult to accept the help and peace Jesus offers?
What do you think I should do, Jesus?
Pray these, or your own words.
Free me to live life to the full. Through the ups and the downs help me to carry on in a way which pleases you Jesus. May I be a source of goodness to those people I meet. I ask you to help my activites today. Amen.
The scripture I'm going to use with the kids is John 15:1-8, you know, about the vine and the branches -- remaining in Jesus. Pruning. Growing. Bearing fruit.
I'm trying to "think outside the box" with my activities for the kids.
That could include:
- A responsive reading, or group prayer (maybe Lord's prayer)
- prayer stations, where they could silently say a prayer
- prayer wall - to write them on a paper on a wall
-prayer labyrinth would be cool, follow a maze with different prayer activities. Like there'd be a map, and they could pick a country and prayer for it. Then follow the path and there'd be a silent prayer station, then a place to write a prayer down, then maybe some of your crazy cool photos to meditate on. Stuff like that.
I think these would be cool ideas... but would middle schoolers dig it?? We'll see. My thoughts aren't super focused yet. Still brainstorming :)