Do you remember those big cardboard blocks that used to be found in preschools and church nurseries? (I’m not sure, but I think it was some kind of legal requirement for caretakers of young children.) They were sturdy “bricks” of red or blue with painted-on mortar, large enough and stable enough to stack into walls.
A few years ago I taught preschool Sunday school at a church that was blessed with a set of these blocks. The kids enjoyed playing with them, and I liked using them for prayer time.
When you try to pray with three- and four-year-olds, things can get a little chaotic. You often learn way more than you want to about their family life. Everyone suddenly develops a relative or a friend with some sort of illness. (One of my favorites was the cousin whose tongue had turned blue.) And often some sort of “Pet Prayer Rule” must be instituted so the whole thing doesn’t devolve into competitive pet prayer requests. (“Can we pray for my cat? He had to go to the vet.” “We need to pray for my dog. He was hit by a car last year, but he’s fine now.” “Let’s pray for my hamster. He’s dead.”)
So something concrete to physically manipulate and that imposes the taking of turns is helpful. That’s how the Prayer Wall was conceived. The way it works is this: Each child gets a turn to lay a block on our prayer wall by saying a thank-You prayer:
“Thank You, God, for my brother.”
“Thank You, God, for my toys.”
“Thank You, God, for toothpaste.” (Really.)
After all of the children had taken a turn, or turns, a little wall had been built. We’d hold hands while I said a brief closing prayer. Then we’d have fun knocking down the wall together and put away the blocks.
I was reminded of this, of course, because it’s Thanksgiving week. And while we should always be thankful, it isn’t a bad thing to take a little extra time to think about our blessings and thank the One from whom every good and perfect gift is given.
“Thank You, God, for the gift of family and friends. Bless them, Lord.”
“Thank You, God, for life in this lovely valley. Help us to help others here, and further afield.”
“Thank You, God, for the opportunity to learn about You and Your Word.”
Here … It’s your turn. Have a block.
What are you thankful for?