|Image used with permission|
Hannah's story is a beautiful one, but one that requires some sensitivity. Hannah was infertile, living a life of humiliation and misery while her husband's other wife bore many children and mocked her for her failures. Coming to God in anguished prayer she begged him for a son, and soon afterwards she had one who she named Samuel - "God hears" - and as soon as he was old enough she took him back to the Temple and gave him back to God. Samuel lived in the Temple and at a young age God spoke to him and he began a life of a prophet. It is important to tell this story without giving a message of "Just ask God for it and you will get it"... similarly there are many women who have prayed Hannah's prayers and still remain childless. So we wanted to tell Hannah's story without causing pain and grief, and so we focussed on the subject of prayer.
Hannah prayed openly and honestly, she came to God just as she was - heartbroken, bitter, angry, hurt, and desperate. Hannah's story teaches us to be real with God, to bring him our joys and sorrows, and to give him a good yelling-at if we need to because he can take it.
So these are the crafts we did - they could be used in other contexts where you are encouraging children to pray or reflect. Some are a little tenuous but great fun all the same ;)
Prayer Candles (from Messy Church 2)
Candles have long been used as a symbol of God's presence, a focus for prayer and reflection. I had one lit on my desk when I was writing my dissertation, to help me stay focussed and calm. We gave the children a clean jam jar, some glass pens and glitter glue to decorate them with, and then a tea light to put inside.
Praying Hands (from Messy Church 2)
Sometimes it's difficult to know what to pray. Repetitive prayers learnt by rote may seem ritualistic and old fashioned but they are often good for when our hearts are so full we don't know what to say. These praying hands are good for ideas too - we assign a topic for each finger and when we want to pray we can just look at our hands!
|Praying hands - my example!|
Blessings Boxes (from Messy Church 2)
When I was little my mum gave me something from her childhood - a box of "promises", encouraging Bible verses to pick out each day. I loved it. I felt like it was a special treasure and even if I didn't understand the verse I loved picking it out and reading it. The blessings boxes were a similar idea - boxes to be decorated and filled with encouraging verses that could encourage you or to pass on to someone else who needed encouragement.
Tuck boxes (from Messy Church 2)
Ok ok, so this *was* a little tenuous...but the kids loved it! We read that every year Hannah visited Samuel in the Temple and brought him a new coat, and Messy Church founder Lucy Moore suggests she might have brought him some treats too :) We bought some wafer oyster shells and invited the children to decorate them with food colouring before filling them with tasty treats.
Samuel's Coat (my own idea!)
And speaking of Samuel's new coat...! We always do a big picture to display in the hall, usually a joint collage or something the can all add their own thing to. So we made Samuel a very nice bright new coat :)
Prayer Notebooks (from Messy Church 2)
People pray in different ways. Personally I prefer to write my prayers down in a journal - it helps me concentrate on my thoughts and also provides a great record of the ways in which God has answered my prayers and my life has changed. We provided notebooks for the children and invited them to decorate the front with a mosaic pattern. Although we called them prayer notebooks, we encouraged the children to use them generally to write down things that they were happy or sad or worried about, so that they could look back on them and be encouraged at the way the situation changed or made them feel.
Let me know if you give any of these crafts a go!