"We ask God to help us do God’s will and to help us make the world the way God wants it to be – just like God sees the world in Heaven. What do you think the earth would be like if it was the way God wanted it to be?"
What is Lord's Prayer in a Bag?
"Lord's Prayer in a Bag" is an interactive activity which works well with children, and also adults. Many "grown-ups" are afraid to ask for help understanding what this prayer means and why we use it! You can do the activity in one sitting, or break it up and do two lines each week, for example.
Materials Needed – Place them in a shopping bag
- Poster board with a collage of photos of people (and people with animals) demonstrating love to one another
- Poster board with the word “HOLY” written in large letters
- Sign that says “No Trespassing”
- Globe to represent the earth
- Loaf of bread (I usually use a loaf of special bread like challah)
- Stack of Monopoly money or a big shiny gemstone like thing
- Copy of the Lord’s Prayer to have in your lap (Trust me, doing it line by line, you will lose track of what comes next!)
Gather the children around with the bag close at hand and begin with a short introduction:
Today we are going to talk about the prayer Jesus taught us to say. This is the oldest Christian prayer we have and Jesus shared it with his first disciples. Christians all over the world and in all times and places have said this prayer. There are some big words and hard things to understand in this prayer, so we are going to think about them out loud together. The prayer begins:
Our Father, who art in Heaven
Pull out the collage of people and animals and hand to a child who will hold it while you speak.
Some people find it helpful to think about God’s love for us like a father’s love for his children. But you can think about God’s love as being like the love of the person who knows you and loves you the best. You can think about God’s love being like your Mom and/or Dad’s love for you, or the love of your sister or brother, or the way your grandparents love you.
I always include a child with a dog because the first time I tried this, a little boy told me that God’s love is like the love of his dog who died because the dog ran between him and the car that was about to hit him and died instead of the boy.
God’s love for is bigger than any love, but it helps us to think about it by remembering how we feel when we are with the person who knows us and loves us best.
Hallowed be thy Name
Get ready with your "holy" poster.
“Hallowed" is a funny word, isn’t it? Does anyone know what it means? “Hallowed” is a word that means “holy” (Hand a child the poster with the word “HOLY” on it) or “special.” And God’s name IS special and holy. We don’t want to use God’s name to hurt other people or in a way that is disrespectful. I’ll bet you don’t like it when people make fun of your name or say it in a nasty way. God doesn’t like it either.
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven
Hold up the globe.
We ask God to help us do God’s will and to help us make the world the way God wants it to be – just like God sees the world in Heaven. What do you think the earth would be like if it was the way God wanted it to be?
Be prepared to spend some time on this one – the most consistent answer in years of doing this is that there would be dinosaurs, but I have heard “twinkies for everyone” too! Try and guide the conversation along the lines of helping people, sharing, etc.
In this part of the prayer, we are asking God to use us to help make the earth the way God imagines it can be. (Hand the globe to one of the children.)
Give us this day our daily bread
Take out the loaf of bread and hand it to another child.
I wonder what this could mean? Back in the times when the Bible was written, bread was the basic necessity of life. In the prayer, bread is a symbol for asking God to make sure we have what we need. What do you think are the things we need?
This is another place where you will get interesting answers – kids will respond with “houses” and “parents” and “food” – and without fail, you will get an answer like video games, toys, movies, etc. You can direct the conversation to help them think about what is really necessary and what is extra.
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
Hold up the “No trespassing” sign and pass it off to another child.
“Trespasses” is another of those big words that we need to think about. Have you ever seen a sign like this one? What do you think it means? When we “trespass” against someone, we do something wrong, something that is hurtful to or disrespectful of another person. What kinds of things are “trespasses?”
Be prepared – you will get the usual answers like “stealing” and “hitting,” but some older children can name corporate sin. Have whatever discussion is necessary before moving on or prepare to address this in another Church School lesson soon!
We ask God to forgive us for what we do that is wrong, but we also promise God that we will forgive people who do things to us that are wrong. This is very hard and sometimes we have to work our whole lives to forgive someone. It isn’t always easy, but God understands that it is hard and knows when we are working at it. We don’t have to be perfect about it, we just have to be serious about working to forgive someone.
When I began teaching the Lord’s Prayer, Columbine had not yet happened. In the time since, school shootings have almost always come up. Be prepared to talk about how forgiveness is not about forgetting, but about being willing to go forward in a new way. I usually say something like, “It is very hard to think that someone who did something so horrible could or should ever be forgiven. And we are right to be angry when other people are hurt or murdered. God is angry too. But we also need to remember that no matter what someone has done, God believes that they are worthy of forgiveness. Sometimes, the closest we can get to forgiving someone is to believe that God can forgive them.”
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Pull out the Monopoly money or the gem.
“Temptation” is another big word. “Temptation” can be lots of things. What tempts you? It can be something as big wanting to steal from other people or as small as sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar when Mom or Dad has said, “Not until after dinner!” We ask God to help us stay away from the things that we know are wrong for us to do. And that is how “deliver us from evil” gets into the prayer. In the “trespasses” line just before this one, we prayed about forgiving others from the wrong they had done us. This line of the prayer is our asking God to both keep us from doing the wrong thing as well as protecting us from the wrong things other people might do to us.
For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and ever
Pull out the crown and hang on to it.
This almost last part of the prayer is our reminding ourselves that everything in the world, even our very selves, belongs to God. Even the things we think we own, really belong to God. In telling God that we know all the blessings and good things we have come from God, we make a kind of promise that we will take good care of these gifts God has given us. What are some ways we might do this? Taking good care of our bodies, not using more water than we need, picking up litter or recycling, sharing with a new person at school – these are all good examples of how we remind ourselves to take care of what God has given us and asked us to take care of.
Conclude by teaching the meaning of this word.
We have come to end of the prayer. All of our prayers end with the word, “Amen.” Who knows what it means? “Amen” means “so be it” or “let it be so.” When we say “Amen,” we are saying that what we have prayed, we mean, and we mean to do. It is sort of a way of saying that we promise to do the things we have prayed in this prayer.
Now, let’s say the whole prayer together. I will say a line and you repeat it back to me. And when we get to the end, we will all stand up and as loud as we can “Amen!” all together!
Using This Lesson
We hope you use The Lord's Prayer in a Bag with your group. If you do, please credit the author, Dr. Elizabeth Windsor.
Dr. Elizabeth L. Windsor is the Director of Christian Education at Sudbury United Methodist Church in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Christian formation throughout the life cycle is both her profession and her passion. Elizabeth has recently been appointed as the Christian Education Resource Assistant to the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church and develops and facilitates on-line programming for United Methodist Communications.