Signs that say:
I want you to think way, way back to the time you were a little baby. Can you do that? And I want to have you see if you remember what your very first word was. Or maybe your mom or dad has told you what your first word was.
(Have kids answer – write on board??)
Sometimes a baby will be so happy to say “Da-da” or “Ma-Ma” or xx, that they say it over and over and over again. Or maybe they sing a song over and over and over again. Do any of you have younger brothers or sisters, and they keep saying the same thing?
How does it feel to hear the same thing over and over and over again? Are you really mad at them, or do you just wish they could grow up a bit more so they could say more things?
Sometimes I think that the way we pray sounds a little bit to God like a little baby’s words. We keep saying the same thing to God – things like – God please make David feel better. Or God, please bless mommy and daddy. Right?
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with talking to God that way. He invites us to ask him for what we need. But there are more things God would love to hear from us, so tonight I want to suggest 4 words that will help us grow up a bit as we pray to God.
Prayers like please make David feel better are what I call “Help” prayers (use sign). Those are prayers where we ask God for things we need. Can you think of other types of “help prayers”?
The second type of prayer I think of goes along with the “help” prayers, and that’s when God answers our prayers for Help, we can say “Thanks” prayers. Thanks for Mr. Mika being back tonight after his concussion. We said a HELP prayer to God for him last week, didn’t we? But we’ve maybe forgotten to say a THANKS prayer to God for helping Mr. Mika, right? HELP prayers and THANKS prayers go together.
What could be some other THANKS prayers?
Here’s a third type of prayer – one that you know about, but it’s a little harder to pray. It’s called a SORRY prayer. This is something you talk to God about when you’ve done something to hurt someone else, or against God. A SORRY prayer is hard – can you think why?
(we are embarrassed, we don’t agree we did something wrong, we think God won’t forgive us).
Another reason SORRY prayers are hard is that sometimes we don’t know how to say we’re sorry. So let’s imagine what a fake sorry prayer might look like:
(Have kids brainstorm)
Let me suggest what a real, whole-hearted SORRY prayer might look like.
God, you’re right. I lied. It doesn’t really matter why I lied, I did lie. I said I went to x when I actually went x. I will talk with Mom and Dad. And if they punish me, that will be okay. Help me not to lie any more. Please forgive me, God.
Now THAT’s a Sorry prayer, isn’t it?
So let’s quickly go over it again-
What’s a HELP prayer?
What’s a THANKS prayer?
How about a SORRY prayer?
The fourth type is I think the hardest to understand, and it’s what I call a WOW prayer.
It’s telling God how great He is. It’s different from a Thanks prayer, because we’re telling God how great HE IS, not thanking him for what he’s done.
So lots of the Psalms are WOW prayers – they use the word Praise the Lord.
Here are some ways you might think of WOW prayers –
When I look at all the amazing types of birds you’ve made that are at my birdfeeder in the winter, I see that you’re amazing too! Wow!
When I think that you are so powerful to make the planets, the stars, the black holes, and stuff we don’t even know exists yet, WOW God!
How about some other WOW prayers?
So let’s go back to how we started this thinking – little babies learn to speak slowly, and sometimes they only know one or two words. But as they grow, they learn lots of ways of talking. When we talk with God, sometimes we are like little babies – we only ask for what we need or want – only HELP prayers. But God loves to hear prayers that thank him, prayers that tell him we’re really sorry for what we’ve done wrong, and prayers that talk about how amazing He is – WOW prayers.
Let’s do just that, okay?