Prayer is a constant in human experience across eras and cultures, with petitions, lamentations, gratitude and requests for intercession expressed in a great variety of words, art and physical postures. Prayer can be our window to whatever energy, life force or deity we believe exists beyond ourselves. It can also provide a mirror to examine our deepest personal and spiritual needs and concerns.
Unitarian Universalism is theologically inclusive, and thus embraces many concepts and practices of prayer. Some would identify viewing a sunset or attending a peace march as a prayer experience. Some find meaning in traditional prayer words and rituals from our Jewish and Christian faith heritages or another faith tradition in which they were raised. Some use Buddhist- or Hindu-rooted meditation as prayer. Some Unitarian Universalists make deep spiritual connections yet see no role for prayer in their lives. (Words by Gabrielle Farrel, Natalie Fenimore and Jenice Lawence)
This week in the Elementary Classroom the children learned about prayer, and pondered the question- if Unitarian Universalist have many different individual ideas of what God is, or then how do and how should UUs pray.
To help answer this question they considered what things might UU kids pray for. In their lesson they were presented with the acronym “THIS” standing for being Thankful, being Hopeful, wanting to Improve, and being Sorry, as possible things to pray about.
To help cement this idea they made prayer beads to take home with them. Here’s an excerpt from their lesson explaining what each bead’s color represented:
We used Red, a happy color, for the thankful bead, because we are Thankful for things that make us feel happy and loved.
We used Yellow, a bright color, for the Hopeful bead, because things look bright and sunny when we’re Hopeful.
We used Green, the color of growing things, for the improve bead, because when we Improve, we grow.
We used Blue, the color that people use to describe a sad mood, for the Sorry bead because we are sad or blue when we’re Sorry.
The beads are going home with the children with a piece of yarn so that once they are completely dry they can be placed together on the string.
The children then closed their class with the following prayer:
May all beings in the world be happy.
May all the beings in the world be at peace.
May all beings in the world be free from suffering.
May all the beings in the world be well.
Some car ride or dinner table questions you might ask to follow up on their lesson could be:
For what reasons might someone want to say a prayer?
Did you like the prayers you did today?
Could you tell me about your prayer beads and why some people use them?
Are UUs the only ones who use prayer beads?