God is able to hear many prayers all at the same time. Our prayers are like bubbles. When they are blown, it's as though our prayer takes the shape of the bubble and when it pings or disappears, that's when it is released for God to reassure us of his forgiveness.
You will need: pots of children's bubbles or a 'bubble machine' (obtained from any toy shops or Early Learning Centre).
Invite everyone to remember something they've said that was hurtful, or something they've done wrong, or something that they know is broken - eg, a heart, the name of someone they have fallen out with, a tree for the state of the planet, and so on. Explain that God is able to hear many prayers all at the same time and to help us pray we will use some bubbles or a bubble machine. Our prayers are like the bubbles. When they are blown, it's as though our prayer takes the shape of the bubble and when it pings or disappears, that's when it is released for God to reassure us of his forgiveness. If appropriate, play some quiet music and lead a prayer, or a number of prayers, that contain the assurance of forgiveness from one of the many liturgical worship books or books containing anthologies of prayers. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Church of England, Common Worship, Church House Publishing, 2000;
- Church of England, New Patterns For Worship, Church House Publishing, 2006;
- Methodist Church of Great Britain and Ireland, The Methodist Service Worship Book, Methodist House Publishing, 1999;
- Northumbria Community, Celtic Daily Prayer, HarperOne, 2002;
- Wild Goose Worship Group, A Wee Worship Book, Wild Goose Publications, 1999;
- Angela Ashwin, The Book of a Thousand Prayers, Zondervan, 2002.
This can be a really powerful way for all ages to say sorry to God and clear away the clutter that gets in the way of our relationship with him. Distribute lots of clean litter around your room, then see it swept away.
You will need: a large collection of 'clean' litter that's not too disgusting (enough for at least one item per person - eg, empty paper and cardboard packets, cigarette boxes, junk mail, small plastic drinks bottles, till receipts, sweet and crisp packets), biros/felt tips, a sweeper with a large broom, music to play (optional). Tip – make sure you practise sweeping the litter/clutter with the broom to make sure it is all sweepable.
Distribute the litter all around the room you're using, making sure that it's all accessible. Ask each person to go and stand by a piece of litter that they feel represents them and their lives in some way. Take some time, then ask each person to think and pray about 'the junk' in their own lives. Do they need to apologise to God for things? What things have got in the way of good relationships with God, each other, etc - rushed lives, stress, worries, fears, doubts? After a period of time to think (maybe listening to some music), invite everyone to write their name and/or draw on their piece of junk a symbol of something in their lives they want God to get rid of. Ask everyone to bring their litter to a point indicated by you (one that is easy to sweep, based on your earlier experiment), then read Isaiah 11.15-12.2 as everyone watches the sweeper sweep all the rubbish away.
For more information and other creative ideas see Sue Wallace, Multi-Sensory Scripture, Scripture Union, 2005.
3. Nooma DVD No. 10: 'Lump' by Rob Bell
No matter how big our junk is, no matter how much our actions have impacted the way other people feel about us or how we feel about ourselves, these haven't changed how God feels about us. God loves us, he always has and always will, and there's nothing we can do to change that. (This Nooma DVD contains a twelve minute film and an excellent booklet with questions.)