Prayer, Psalms, and Mad Libs

Mar 19, 2020 9:00:00 AM / by Ruth Sall

We recognize that this is an unusual and even unprecedented time to be doing ministry. This post pertains to more normal times, and you may not find it relevant in the next few weeks. However, we are also aware that, with many of us working from home, some people may have more time to read blog posts now than they usually do. We hope that you will be able to read this now and use its guidance at such a time as our activities return to normal.

In my work with families in my congregation, I am consistently surprised that people get very nervous to offer prayers. There seems to be a consensus among lay persons that praying is reserved for the pastor or the Christian educator or the very seasoned Sunday school teacher. I love when I work with children on prayer and they come to realize that talking to God is truly simple and a wonderful way to act on their faith.

My favorite way to spark ideas about prayer is to read the Psalms. The Psalms are songs written for God. Children love putting together the connection that the brave boy David, who fought Goliath, is the one and same author of many songs to God. There are psalms of praise, lament, thanksgiving, frustration, joy—so many different expressions of our lives as God’s creatures. I read a favorite psalm to the children, like Psalm 98: “O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things.” I ask them if they could think of writing a song for God.

Sometimes they are sparked and think of lovely ways to praise God. Sometimes it takes a little more effort, so I suggest that we write a psalm together in a “Mad Libs” style. I will ask for some words so we can fill in our song of praise and thanksgiving. If I am feeling brave, I ask for the words in the parenthesis without the context of the prayer surrounding it. Sometimes our prayer is very silly, but often the joy of creating even a silly prayer brings us closer to God.

“Dear God, I love all the (plural noun) and (plural noun) here on earth. Your (color) and (color) birds fill the air with beauty. The (adjective) animals that you created are so majestic. My favorite is the (animal). Thank you for your love and care for all creatures. We (verb) when we think of you. We (verb) when we know you are near us. We praise you and love you all the days of our lives. Amen.”

If we are really sparked by the Holy Spirit, we might even try singing our new psalm with a simple tune. There’s no end to how creative we can be when we pray. And God is always listening.

Topics: Children Ministry

Ruth Sall

Written by Ruth Sall

Ruth Sall is the Director of Children’s Ministry and Music at Abington Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. Ruth loves all aspects of working with children from birth through high school through music, scripture, drama, art and prayer. Her favorite experience to share with others is walking a labyrinth.


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