Prayer Week and Understanding the Lord's Prayer
Rev'd Francis, Foundation Governors and members of St Mary's Church supported this Focus week, giving children an opportunity to think about prayer, personal reflection and to deepen their understanding about the Lord's Prayer.
Our Open the Book team started off the week by reminding us of Jesus parable, 'The Prodigal Son'. The themes in this story linked to our learning during the week and children thought about what it would feel like to be each of the characters in the parable. Thinking about the love of the father for both his children helped us to understand 'Our Father, hallowed be your name' in the prayer and to appreciate Christian belief that God loves us unconditionally and is respected.
On Tuesday we thought about 'Your kingdom come, Your will be done'. Again, the Prodigal Son story helped us to understand that we all have choices and making the right choice isn't just about thinking about ourselves. What do Christians believe doing God's will would be? Later in the day, we thought about making good choices and how difficult this can sometimes be.
'Give us today our daily bread' - 'Us' reminds each one of us that it is not just your needs that are important but that we can think about everyone's needs, our friends, our family, our communities, people we don't even know. We also thought deeply about the difference between what we want and what we actually need!
On Thursday we thought about forgiveness, one of our six core values; 'Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us'. This was perhaps the hardest part of the week to understand and we used the Prodigal Son parable to help us. When the younger son tells his father that he doesn't feel worthy to be his son, he cannot forgive himself for what he has done but his father does forgive him. His father continues to love him and forgives him for the mistakes he made. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus reminds Christians that saying sorry to God is good and that God never stops loving us, whatever we have done and if we wander away he will always welcome us back. However, the Prodigal Son story teaches us more about forgiveness when we think about the older son who cannot forgive his brother. Jesus tells his disciples that as they have been forgiven, so we should forgive others.
Jesus tells another story to help his disciples understand this better. He tells a story of a mn who owes millions to the king, but can't pay it, pleads for meercy and the king lets him off everything - he doesn't even have to pay back one pound! However, the king is outraged when he discovers that this man, who has been let off millions himself, refuses to let off someone else who can't pay back one single pound. Jesus' message is that if God forgives us everything, can we hold back from forgiving others? Can we really behave like this man? The Lord's Prayer reminds us to forgive and pray that we would be able to forgive as God forgives us.
On Friday we explored, 'Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil'. We thought about seeing our favourite chocolate bar. Would we be tempted to take and eat it even when we knew it didn't belong to us? In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus reminds us about choices and how this can sometimes be hard. In his prayer he asks that each day we try and use the right choice in our lives when at school or at home.
During the morning, every child had an opportunity to visit five reflective stations in church and think about their learning during prayer week. Each station's activity supported and deepened thinking on the themes considered during the week.
Station 1: 'Hallowed be your name' - a card sorting activity - What names do Christians and other religions give to God? Think about the meanings of these names, which would you choose and why?
Station 2: 'Your kindom come, Your will be done' - What do you think God's kingdom would like here in Woodchester?
Station 3: 'Give us this day our daily bread' - Each child contributes the piece of a whole school paper chain - what are we grateful for?
Station 4: 'Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us' - Children blow bubble up and away, representing any worries or concerns they have or something they are sorry for. They place their individual school pebble at the foot of the school cross knowing that they have passed their worry to God.
Station 5: 'Lead us not into temptation' - Children think about right choices they have made and write their name on a megablock and add it to the school tower. At the end, all children and adults have contributed to the tower, representing our strength as a community when we work together to make good choices.