A few weeks ago at an interfaith-council-sponsored service project, the minister who gave the benediction took a minute beforehand to talk to the kids present about how to pray. He told them that there were four words to include:
Thanks–always start with remembering what you’re thankful for, for the many gifts God gives.
Gimme–sincerely ask for things you need, and even things you just want. God is a loving and wise parent, so you might not get everything you ask for, but the honest expression of the things you most wish for is a good thing to include in the conversation.
Oops–everybody messes up sometimes. It feels good to admit it and ask for help to move on from our mistakes.
Wow !–this was the most interesting part, and this video that Russell linked to reminded me of it. It’s an element of prayer we don’t really teach, I think–giving praise, expressing awe or wonder. I can’t say I’ve ever seen it done in a way that would feel authentic to me. In the South, there’s some praising mixed in with the thanking sometimes (with what feels to me like a LOT of direct address to the Lord), and in some liturgies there’s the Gloria or an adaptation of it. I like it as an element of liturgy, but I can’t figure out how it fits in my personal prayers, and it just feels weird. Reading the psalms aloud is my favorite way to express praise and wonder, but even that feels better in a crowd, or better yet, a choir.
What do you think? Do we need to say “wow” more? If so, how? And is the 4-word rubric a useful shorthand for teaching prayer to kids?