How do we pray? Why is it important to have humility? Sometimes we get the idea that faith is a performance of some sort, or that prayer is meant for other people to hear and applaud. This message seeks to remind children that God wants to hear our genuine prayers and welcomes us to come to Him with our requests. Begin with an example of pride or bragging, and use that to explain how our lives as Christians are not about our own work, but depend on what God does in and through us.
Law/Gospel Theme: We wouldn’t want to identify with the Pharisee in this parable, but unfortunately we sometimes act like him. We can even give kids the impression that we are better than others if we have strong faith, and that we somehow earn God’s love with our actions and prayers. It’s important to emphasize that we are all sinners, saved by grace alone. God loves us and wants to hear from us. Our prayers are a communication with Him, not some sort of speech for the masses. Our faith is given by the Holy Spirit and blesses us only because it makes us reliant on Him.
Optional Materials: (Optional) Items that represent a hobby or passion that could be bragged about or identified with; Bible
Bible Passage: Luke 18:9-14
Message: Note: As with most messages, the details of how you choose to communicate this are adaptable and should cater to timing as well as to your audience and student needs.
Greet children, and have some sort of representation of a skill or hobby. This could be a sport musical item, craft, etc.
Hello, Children of God!
Do you have any hobbies you like to do? Maybe you play a sport or an instrument? Allow for a couple of very brief responses, but cut them off somewhat rudely. Okay, that’s nice…but I want to tell you about something that I really enjoy, and something that I do very well. You might now that I enjoy… At this point, insert your personal hobby or achievement. Be sure to elaborate on the accomplishments you have through it and what you’ve done, and emphasize how your skill level is much better than the students. After a little bragging, pause.
Well, I guess that might not be the best or kindest way of encouraging you… how does it feel to hear me boasting like that? You know, the truth is that my accomplishments really aren’t that amazing. All of the things I’ve done could easily slip away or get changed. Talking about how great I am certainly doesn’t make me any better at what I do, does it? I don’t improve by bragging, but by working at my skill.
You know, it might sound strange, but sometimes we want to boast and brag about our faith in Jesus. Somehow we treat our relationship with God like something that we do, some sort of skill we can develop. Even prayer can become a sort of performance when we do it for the wrong reasons. Jesus told a story about this actually. He described two men who went to pray. One of them was a Pharisee, a man of the church who had a lot of power and responsibility. The other was a tax collector, who most people did not like because they were responsible for taking money from people, and usually were dishonest. The Pharisee was very boastful when he prayed. He thanked God for not making him like the tax collector, and bragged about all of the things he did for the church. The tax collector, on the other hand, bowed down low and prayed with humility, not even looking up to Heaven. He confessed that he was a poor miserable sinner. Jesus explained that this man’s prayers were even more beautiful than the bragging Pharisee, because he was genuine and heartfelt. He knew that all he had was because of God, and he was nothing without His creator.
It’s important for us to have humility, whether praying or doing anything. What does humble mean? Well, it means not thinking too highly of ourselves. Sometimes we look at others, and think we are better than them because we know Jesus. But we are all sinners in need of salvation. We haven’t done anything to earn or achieve God’s grace. He offers it freely to everyone! When we pray, there are times that others will hear it, but that doesn’t mean it should be a show or a speech. Prayer is not a performance but a conversation with God. Our Lord has given us opportunity to come to Him and wants to hear from us. When we talk to Him, we recognize that He has done great things, and we are His followers and servants. We have a blessing in prayer! We can rejoice and give God gratitude for His work in our lives, and we can humbly come before Him with all we need, assured that He provides as He has promised.
Let’s say a prayer now to thank the Lord for communicating with us in prayer.
(Have kids repeat each line)
Thank you for prayer
We can talk to you anytime!
Please help us to be humble
And remember what is most important
Help us show your kindness to others
Thank you for your love
We love you, God!
In Jesus name, Amen!
Bible Verses/story to Reference:
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” -Luke 18:9-14