What do Christians say when they pray? Part 1

It would be helpful if you had a teaspoon, a couple of marker pens and a whiteboard (or large sheet of paper) to illustrate the following explanation. 

Christians believe that praying is not just about asking God for things. 

 
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Explain that we talk to different people about different things - we might talk to our friends about one thing and to our family about something else. 

The Bible teaches that, although people can talk to God about absolutely anything, because of who he is and what he is like, there are some things people say to God time and time again. 

Write the words ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘please’ on a whiteboard or large sheet of paper.

When people talk with God they often say ‘thank you’ for something he has done, ‘sorry’ for something wrong they have done and ‘please’ as they ask him for things they believe he wants to give them. 

Introduce the prayer prompt, 'TSP'.  Write the letters: ‘t’, ‘s’, ‘p’ next to the words. Show the children a teaspoon. Explain that sometimes people write ‘tsp’ instead of teaspoon in a recipe - they might write ‘you need a tsp of sugar’. 

Circle the first letter of the words ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘please’ and point to the corresponding letters in the abbreviation, ‘tsp’. Explain that a teaspoon is a good way to remember that, because of who God is and what he is like, we often say ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘please’ when we are talking with him.

What do Christians say when they pray? Part 2

Many prayers are about saying ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘please’ to God. At other times Christians believe their prayers are like long chats with God that never really end.

 
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Christians who enjoy chatting with God might tell him something one moment, then a little while later tell him something else. They might let him know how they feel, or what's worrying them, or share with him something that's made them laugh. Here are some examples of people in the Bible who simply talked with God:

• Adam and Eve talked with God in the Garden of Eden
• The disciples spent hours talking with Jesus
• Day after day David sang to God as he looked after his father’s sheep

What do Christians ask for when they pray?

Christians believe God has said it is OK for people to ask him for things when they pray, in fact he says he wants to be asked – but how do people know what to ask for? What does God want to give people? 

 
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Christians believe God loves it when people ask for the things they need. They believe God longs for people to have all they need to live his way and live lives full of peace and joy.

Christians believe God wants everybody everywhere to have loving families, warm clothes, good food and safe places where they can learn and grow. Christians believe God wants everybody to have good friendships and great fun in their lives. All these things help people to live lives that are both peaceful and joyful.

You could briefly talk about the difference between ‘things people need’ and ‘things people simply like having’. Christians believe God longs for people to have the things that make them happy and content day after day after day. 

Explain that the Bible teaches that an important part of living lives full of peace and joy is to live God’s way. Quickly remind the children that living God’s way is about two main things: loving God and loving others. Christians believe God longs to pour his love into people's lives, he wants to forgive people and give them his comfort and guidance. Christians also believe that, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, God loves to give people great peace, patience and joy. Christians believe they need all these things to live God's way.

Christians believe God loves to give all these things to people and he encourages people to keep on asking him for all they need to live his way and lead lives full of peace and joy. 


 

How can Christians be sure they are asking God for the things He wants to give them? 

The Bible teaches that God gives people who are close friends with Jesus what they ask for when they pray. 

 
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A close friend is someone whom we spend lots of time with. The Bible teaches that Christians can be close friends with Jesus; they can spend time with him as they read their Bibles, pray and worship. The Bible teaches that people who are close friends with Jesus follow his teaching; this means they do the things Jesus taught people to do. Christians believe people who spend time with Jesus start to love the same things Jesus loves and want the same things he wants.

Christians believe God gives people who are close friends with Jesus what they ask for when they pray because they want the same things Jesus wants and therefore ask for the things God longs to give.

What do Christians mean when they talk about effective prayer?

Effective means – that something turns out the way we hoped and planned.

When Christians pray and ask God for something, they really hope he will do what they have asked. Christians hope their prayers will be effective. 

 
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The Bible teaches that the prayer of a righteous person is effective. Another way of saying this is ‘the prayers of somebody who is learning and growing to be like Jesus, will be answered in the way they hoped’. Christians believe that’s not because God only wants to do things for people who live his way; but because people who are learning and growing to be more like Jesus will be spending time with him as they read their Bibles, pray and worship. Christians believe people who spend time with Jesus start to love the same things Jesus loves and want the same things he wants.

Christians believe God gives people who spend time with Jesus what they ask for because they want the same things Jesus wants and therefore ask for the things God longs to give.

 

Some of the wording in this post is repeated in ‘How Can Christians Be Sure They Are Asking God For The Things He Wants To Give Them?’ 

 

Why do Christians say sorry to God when they pray?

A Christian is somebody who has said ‘yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness. Christians believe that with the help of the Holy Spirit they are learning and growing to live God's way. However just because a Christian is learning to live God’s way, it doesn’t mean they get things right all the time. Christians know they sometimes make mistakes and bad choices, they know they don't always manage to live God’s way.

 
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In fact all Christians at one time or another make mistakes and  bad choices. The Bible calls the wrong things people do ‘sin’. Christians believe sin makes God sad because it spoils the things he loves - it spoils a person’s friendship with God. However the Bible teaches that making mistakes and bad choices doesn’t stop someone being a Christian and certainly doesn’t stop God loving them.

The Bible teaches that God longs to forgive people for the wrong things they have done; he wants to wipe away the sin that spoils. The Bible teaches that when a person has done something wrong they can say sorry to God and he will forgive them straight away and the sin that spoils is wiped away.

However Christians believe that even when they have said sorry to God they often still need to put things right or say sorry to other people, but they believe a good place to start is to say sorry to God and ask him to help them get things right next time.

Why do some prayers seem not to be answered?

Sometimes, even when a person believes they are asking God for what he wants to give them, their prayers still don’t seem to be answered in the way they hoped.

 
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Christians believe it is important at these times to remember that there are things they don’t know or fully understand. They believe that for God to answer a prayer in the way a person hoped might not be right for them or the people around them at that time.

However the Bible teaches it is still important that Christians keep on learning and growing to be more like Jesus, trusting that God will answer their prayers in the way that is right for them.

How do Christians pray?

When we meet our friends we sometimes chat for hours. The Bible teaches that through Jesus everybody, everywhere can be close friends with God. Christians believe that because God is their close friend they can talk with him anytime and anywhere.

 
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Christians believe there are many different ways to pray. They believe people can say prayers, whisper prayers, sing prayers, shout prayers or even say ‘thought prayers’ in their heads.

The Bible is full of prayers that people have said, sung, whispered or shouted to God.

If appropriate you could show the children how they can whisper a prayer very, very quietly. They can do this by speaking so quietly that they just move their lips without making a sound. Christians believe God can still hear this type of whispered prayer. You could also help children to understand how they can say a prayer in their heads; they can say ‘thought prayers’. You might like to help children practise thinking of things in their heads. First ask the children to think of their favourite colour, then what they would like to be when they grow up. Christians believe they can tell God their favourite colour or what they want to be when they grow up without speaking. They can also tell God what they find scary or what they really enjoy doing. Christians believe God hears the prayers they say in their heads.

 

How do Christians keep praying without stopping?

The Bible teaches that it is possible to pray without stopping.

 
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The person that wrote this in the Bible was called Paul. Paul was talking about prayers that never really finish. Instead of praying for a while then stopping to do something else, Paul is talking about chatting to God through the day, a little bit now, then a little bit later, perhaps while eating, a bit more while walking home, then a bit more before going to sleep – it’s as if the chatter or conversation never ends. Obviously Paul would have realised that people have to do other things too; he probably imagined that the conversation with God might pause while people do something else or concentrate on another job.

Many Christians choose to pray like this in their heads. They say ‘thought prayers’ to God all through the day, but they still go to school or work and they still chat with other people.

Why does the Bible teach that Christians should watch and pray?

The Bible teaches that Christians should try very hard to pay attention when they pray.

 
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But why does the Bible teach that Christians should pay attention when they pray?

Here are two reasons:

1. Christians believe it is important to keep looking out for God’s answers.
Christians believe that if they ask God for the things he has promised they should look out for his answers. They believe that if they ask God to look after them, help them, take away a pain or give them a peaceful feeling then they should look for ways in which God is answering their prayers. Christians also believe that if they ask God to show or tell them something, then they should wait to feel, hear or see what he says.

2. Christians believe it is important to keep looking for more things to pray about.
Christians believe there are many, many people in the world who need God’s help. The Bible teaches that God wants Christians to pray for others: to ask him to look after people and comfort them. Christians believe that when they watch and look around they can see where God’s help is needed and can pray for those people and places.

What is a prayer space?

The Bible teaches that Jesus told a group of people to pray in a quiet space. He said 'go into a room and close the door'. A prayer space is a quiet place to talk to God.

A prayer space can be big or small, it might have cushions or chairs, it might have things to hold or touch, things to smell or taste, things to watch, read, drop, press, cut or fold. A prayer space may be simple or colourful but it is always somewhere a person can talk with God.

 
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For ideas on how to create prayer spaces visit https://www.prayerspacesinschools.com/