Many teachers have found the reflective style of storytelling that has been developed within Godly Play to be a very helpful and effective way of opening up the Bible with children.
When Jesus gave his followers the words for this prayer in Matthew 6:9-15, it was intended to be a pattern for how Christians should come close to God. For this reason, the following reflective version, using beautiful symbols for each section, can be very helpful in allowing children time and space to think through what each phrase really means and how it can shape and guide prayer. This version is the same as that published in the final chapter of Lucy Moore’s book The Lord’s Prayer Unplugged.
For this presentation, you will need the following items, choosing or making 3D objects that are both simple and attractive:
- squares of felt in green, black, red, yellow, purple, grey, blue and orange
- a model hen and chicks
- a nightlight and matches
- four red hearts
- a bread roll
- a gold heart
- a stone
- a rainbow
- red feathers
- bubble mixture and blower.
Of course, you may want to substitute your own symbols and visuals. Or you might just have different ideas that mean more to you. For example, Sue originally used sheep and a shepherd on the green square instead of a hen and chicks.
Take your time with this Bible story by presenting it, using three-dimensional materials. Gather the class in a semicircle, using a back row of benches or chairs if necessary so that all the children can see the following presentation of the story clearly. Carefully place all these items into a box or on to a tray in reverse order, ending with the felts. Tell the story simply, using the words below and focusing on the story rather than the children. Put down the felts first from right to left (from your perspective) and place the items slowly on them as indicated, from right to left so that children ‘read’ the story from their left to their right. The items should all be about the same size.
When you have finished telling the story, leave a short space and then use the wondering questions written out for you at the end of the piece.
Jesus knew all about prayer… he prayed early in the morning… he prayed late into the night… he prayed for this friends… and for those who would have counted themselves his enemies… he prayed for little children… he laid his hands upon them and he blessed them… One day, when Jesus was praying, his friends came up to him and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ This is the prayer that Jesus taught.
Lay out the green felt to your right – i.e. the children’s left. Remember you will need enough space for seven more pieces also placed from your right to your left in a line so that the story unrolls like a scroll.
Your heavenly Father is better than the best father you could ever imagine. He cares for you so much that he wants you to call him ‘Abba’, ‘Daddy’. He loves you even more than a mother hen loves her chicks.
Put the hen and chicks on the green felt.
So when you pray, start your prayer like this… Abba… our father in heaven…
Lay out the black felt and light a nightlight on it.
And remember when you pray that your heavenly father is very holy. He is all that is good… all that is light… allowed – holy – be your name…
Lay out the red felt.
Your heavenly father loves you so much that he has spread his love to every corner of the world… north… south… east… west…
Place the four hearts on the red felt.
There is no part of the world that your heavenly father doesn’t care for… there is no part of the world that he doesn’t want us to care for… your kingdom come… your will be done… on earth as it is in heaven.
Your heavenly father loves you so much that he wants you to have every good thing you need… he’d give those things to us anyway… but he loves us to ask for the things we need… he loves us to share our lives with him… give us this day our daily bread.
Lay out the yellow felt and place the bread on it.
Our daily bread is not just the toast we have for breakfast… or the honey sandwich we have for tea. No, it’s everything we need… our friends… our families… our homes… clothes to keep us warm… food and love to nourish us… Give us today our daily bread…
Lay out the purple felt and place the gold heart on it.
This part of the prayer is all about God’s love for us… but he knows that we don’t always get things right… and he has given us ten ways to help us live and to help us to know when we get things wrong… forgive us our sins…
And God wants us to love as we are loved… to forgive those who sin against us… this part of the prayer is about what we can do for others…
Lay out the grey felt and the stone.
God knows that there are things that make us stumble and fall… there are grey areas when we are not sure whether we are doing right or wrong… perhaps there are times when we know that we are doing wrong… but we want to do that thing all the same…
Lay out the rainbow over the stone.
… lead us not into temptation… but deliver us from evil… God has given us the sign of the rainbow to remind us that he will never, ever turn his back on us… he will never, ever let us go…
This is the part of the prayer that you will find in your Bible. But today the end of the prayer praises God for his eternal love…
Lay out the blue felt.
yours is the kingdom…
Lay out the orange felt.
Lay out the red feathers.
and the glory… from the beginning of time… with us today… for ever and ever… Amen
Lay out bubble mixture and blow bubbles.
- I wonder what you like best about this prayer.
- I wonder what you think is the most important part of this prayer.
- I wonder where you are in this prayer or which part of the prayer is about you.
- I wonder if there is anything in this prayer we could leave out and still have all the prayer we need.