Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER (donít write about the song) (04/30/15)
TITLE: The Welcoming... Gift?
By Allison Egley
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"Come and sit down. Thank you for coming to the prayer meeting tonight. Since your parents are meeting upstairs for prayer, we're doing the same thing. So let's sit down, and I'll open. Then we'll break into small groups, with our teenage helpers each taking a group."
I bowed my head, but only pretended to close my eyes. I have been in children's ministry long enough to know that the leader never fully closes her eyes. "Dear Jesus," I began, "Thank you for bringing each child here tonight. I pray that these children... Jimmy, don't hit your sister... I pray that these children would learn more about You as we gather tonight." I could see that I'd better wrap up this opening prayer soon, as the natives were getting restless. "Please help everyone to pay attention. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
"Now, let's break into small groups, and..." With that, the children were off. "Wait! I need to assign you to groups first." Things were already getting out of hand, and we had hardly begun. Who's idea was it to give children candy right before a prayer meeting? Oh, that's right. Mine. Give them an incentive. A "thank you for coming" gift, I thought. I should have given them the candy at the end. Let the parents deal with it. Besides, candy is a great tool for bribery.
I ran to a group of boys who had turned into ninjas. "Samuel, stop using your Bible as a weapon."
"But Miss J., it says in Ephesians that the Bible is the sword of the spirit."
The other ninja held his Bible out in front of his chest. "Yeah, and I'm using the shield of faith."
These kids have clearly been in Sunday School too long. Oh... wait... Sorry, God. I didn't mean it. It's just that... "It's an expression. The Bible isn't literally a sword."
The boys looked at me, heads cocked to the side. Smauel tapped his forehead "Well, DUH! Bibles are paper. Swords are metal."
Meanwhile, as I tried to council the ninjas, everyone else was playing tag. Including the teenage "helpers."
I'd heard somewhere that sugar making kids hyper is a myth. Only an old wives' tale. Well, if anyone wants to do an study, I'd like to offer exhibits A through II to be present as evidence for the argument. That's one exhibit for each child. Plus the five teens.
Time for Plan B. "Okay, kids. Let's gather together as a big group, in the chairs again. Sit down, please." No response. "I said, 'SIT DOWN!'" Immediately 30 children and five teenagers sat down on the floor, right where they were. That works.
"Okay. I'm going to pray again." I bowed my head, and, once again, didn't completely close my eyes.
"Dear Jesus," I heard snickering. I realized that Jesus never used threats in His prayers, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I said a quick, silent prayer of forgiveness before I continued. "Please help the children behave for the rest of the hour, so I don't have to interrupt the adult prayer meeting upstairs. I'm sure the parents would not be happy about that. Neither would Pastor Neil." The snickering stopped. I'd take my success in small doses. "Help all of us to honor and worship You tonight through prayer and song. In Jesus name, amen."
I glanced at my watch. "Kids, our... free time went a little bit longer than I planed, so we don't have too much time left." The kids cheered. That wasn't the response I was going for, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't share their sentiment. "Let's sing a song, and then I'll let one of you close in prayer. Does anyone have a song they'd like to sing?" Olivia raised her hand. "Yes?"
"Can we sing 'Jesus Loves Me?' And can I say the closing prayer too?"
"Of course." After we sang, Olivia stood up and folded her hands.
"Dear Jesus, Thank you for God, and the sun, and the stars, and Mommy and Daddy, and Pastor Neil, and Miss J. And thank you for chocolate. Amen."
Well, it may not have been much of a payer meeting, but it was still sweet. Even if we are talking about the chocolate.
Fictional. I hope.
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