Why do Christians pray to God and worship him?

Why do Christians
pray to God and
worship him?
Key Stage 1 RE
EMMANUEL Project: Teaching Christianity effectively in Key Stage 1
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
Page 1
Background Information
Religious Education requirements: This unit fulfils requirements for the KS1 Learning Theme ‘Prayer and Worship: how and why some
people pray and what happens in a place of worship’ (Suffolk Agreed Syllabus for RE 2012 p.26-27). The focus is particularly on different
kinds of Christian prayer, including the famous Lord’s Prayer. It should be strengthened with a visit to, or a visitor from, a local church if
possible. The unit could be taught at any time but is best taught in a term when children also consider how Jewish people pray and worship.
Teaching Christianity effectively means: accuracy when portraying Christian beliefs, use of great resources, creative approaches,
awareness of the school setting, contextualization of beliefs e.g. by using Tom and Tessa, setting challenging but enjoyable tasks and should
result in children who understand more about Christian belief and practice, and are better equipped to think more deeply about their own lives
and beliefs. We have held these ideals in mind but you are invited to adapt the material and make the unit even more effective in your setting.
Whole School RE Theme Days: This unit can be used as the KS1 part of an RE Theme Day on Prayer and Worship.
Theme Days often permit more art, craft, music, dance, poetry and drama to be used in RE and give more time to
meet and interview members of the Christian faith. While these things can greatly enhance RE learning, it is
important to keep the focus of the unit on what Christians believe.
Some other excellent resources exist to enable, or complement, work on Prayer and Worship e.g.
 The Great Prayer and Worship adventure – was written to tackle an area of KS1 RE which some teachers find
hard and make it active and exciting. Children investigate aspects of Christian prayer and worship in
school. Their work is then added to interactive stations in a local church. Detailed lessons and
assessment ideas are provided, as well as pictures of the ‘stations’ and how these can be used. Available
from Diocesan Education Team (01473 298570 / helen.matter @coefsuffolk.org)
 The Lord’s Prayer Project – was written as a schools’ music resource with lots of sung versions of the
Lord’s Prayer, including two in Swahili. The CD also contains additional materials for 30 fun assemblies
on the Lord’s Prayer and materials for an RE Day with all year groups. There is a Reflective Story,
interactive stations, the Lord’s prayer in British Sign Language and more than a dozen in different spoken
languages. Complemented by some beautiful artwork this resource has been highly successful in schools.
An annual ‘week’ of prayer / reflection activities for the whole school would help children develop a real sense of the
‘spiritual’ whatever their faith or non-faith background. Contact ‘Praying Spaces in Schools’ for ideas or help:
(http://www.prayerspacesinschools.com/home). Or consider a more permanent Quiet garden, or a ‘Sanctuary’ spot
in the school building, or construct a labyrinth on the field (e.g. with daffodils) for children to walk prayerfully
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
Page 2
INCARNATION is the traditional Christian belief that
God came into the world in human flesh in the person
of Jesus Christ. The first Christians did not believe Jesus
was just a good man, healer, teacher or prophet but
trying to put into words what they had seen and
experienced of this incredible man was hardly possible. Eventually they
stated that Jesus was both fully human and fully God.
The units of work in the Emmanuel Project all add something to this
understanding of Jesus as ‘God with skin on’ or God ‘incarnate’.
God with us – Emmanuel (The Bible - Matthew 1 v.23; Hebrews 4 v.15-16;
John 11 v.27, 19 v.7)
Incarnation is about God’s Son becoming ‘one of us’, a human. Christians
believe when they pray they will be understood because Jesus came and
shared human life; he knows the trials and joys of being human. Yet he is
not just ‘with us’ but ‘God with us’ and therefore able to help.
As ‘God with us’; Jesus teaches and demonstrates what God is like and how
humans should relate to God. Jesus himself prayed (John 17 v.1, Matthew
26 v.36) and encouraged his followers … ‘when you pray ….’ (Matthew 6 v.514). The disciples watched Jesus praying and asked him to teach them to
pray (Luke 11 v.2-4 – the ‘Lord’s Prayer’).
Jesus reveals God as ‘personal’, not just a force in the universe but someone
with whom a relationship is possible. He himself prayed to God as ‘father’
(abba or daddy), showing prayer as a conversation - only possible and
purposeful if God is truly there and ‘with us’. God is always on the ‘other
end of the line’, beside us ready to listen and answer. Prayer happens
because there is someone there to hear, and worship occurs when that one
is recognised as immensely great, powerful and loving – worthy of praise.
Prayer is part of worship but worship is far more than prayer. Prayer is
communication with God, worship is adoration of God. Prayer and worship
are common to people of faiths, but understood and practised differently.
1. Christians pray because communicating with God is part of their
friendship with him. They believe God listens and wants to answer
prayer. An answer may come through an inner feeling or certainty; it
may come through the Bible or other people.
2. Christians may pray with icons, rosaries or prayer books; they may use
set words or simply chat. Prayer can be silent, sung, spoken out loud or
in one’s head. There are prayers of praise, help and thanks,
confessions, intercessions (asking prayers), graces and blessings.
1. Central to Christian worship is ‘Adoration’; worship is about showing
how much God is loved or how much God is worth to an individual.
Christians believe their whole life ought to be an act of worship: a gift
to God, a way of saying ‘Thank you’.
2. Christians worship in song, prayer, drama, ritual, liturgy (a set pattern
of words) dance, art, poetry and story.
3. For many Christians, the heart of worship is Communion (Eucharist or
the Lord’s Supper). This is when Jesus’ death and sacrifice is
remembered and his presence is especially felt and draws out deep
gratitude and adoration in the worshipper.
NB A positive experience of Collective Worship and prayer in schools may help a child
understand the worship of believers but should not be taken to represent the prayer
and worship of a faith community as a whole.
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
Page 3
Why do Christians pray to God and worship?
with the concept of
being thankful for
A Grace is a special
prayer of thanks over
food; it is sometimes
Christians pray because
Jesus set an example –
he is recorded as
praying thanks for food
e.g. at Last Supper and
Feeding of 5,000.
Who should we thank for a feast?
Open the picnic hamper and sit everyone down! We are going to have a feast! Before the children eat we
need to say thank you: Who do we say thank you to? And why do we say thank you?
Who else would Christians thank for a feast?
We’ve invited Tom and Tessa too. They come from a Christian family who pray to God and worship God with
other Christians on Sunday in church. They have some things to share with us at our feast.
Look in Tom and Tessa’s bag. Bring out a Grace cube OR prayer book with a Grace in it OR the words for a
sung Grace. Did you know that lots of people from different religions and countries say thank you to GOD
before they eat their food? Christians often say thank you in a special prayer called a Grace. Read or sing a
Grace for the children (see Resources) or say one that is used in some schools:
For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful.
Eat the food e.g. bread/grapes/juice/biscuits / carrot sticks. Make it special with a bright picnic cloth, coloured
plastic glasses and paper plates. Enjoy.
When everyone is happily eating … enjoy singing more graces and practise rolling the grace cube … and then
look in Tom and Tessa’s bag again. What else is in there? A lovely loaf of fresh bread! And a Bible storybook.
What example of praying did Jesus set his followers?
Christians are followers of Jesus who lived on earth 2000 years ago. He is so special to Christians – they
believe he is God so they try to copy the things he did and said. Bread is a reminder for Christians –Jesus and
his disciples sat down to a feast just before he died and he shared a loaf of bread with them and asked them to
remember him forever. Jesus loved eating with his friends and he always said thank you to God first.
Let’s hear a special story about Jesus and his friends and some bread … and fish. Tell the story of the Feeding
of the 5000. Act it out or read from a story bible e.g. The Lion First Bible. See if you can spot the ‘Grace’.
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
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What else do you think Christians say thank you to God for?
into what there is to
find out about prayer
and worship
Begin a learning wall – Thank you words to God. What might Christians say thank you for apart from food?
And why? i.e. they believe God provides good things for them and loves them. You could create some giant
thank you cubes with children’s words, pictures or prayers stuck on boxes or giant dice OR have a sing-song
with a simple ‘Thank you’ song e.g. ‘Thank you Lord for this fine day’ and add lots of new verses.
Can you use these words?
The sock challenge! For the brave. Children take off a sock and wear it as puppet on their hand. With
talking partners, they are given a pile of simple words to do with praying: sorry, thank you, help, please, praise,
well done, ask, pray, prayer, worship, God, grace. They must invent sentences for their puppets to say using
these words and turning them over as they use them.
What do we know, and what do we need to find out, about prayer and worship?
Look at a collage of Christian people praying in different ways – Jesus, different cultures, different churches,
different places, school children, disciples, different styles and stances, refugees, soldiers, families. The
internet will provide many suitable images.
Children look at the pictures with a talking partner and ask questions about the pictures – Who? What? Why?
Where? How? They can write on post-it notes themselves or ask an adult to scribe for them – stick the post-its
on the pictures. The words from the ‘sock challenge’ may help them write their questions.
These people are all Christians. They are talking to God. They sometimes call Jesus ‘emmanuel’, which
means “God is with us”. Jesus told his followers to talk to God about everything – God loves to hear.
What about this word ‘worship’?
Here is a word which got missed out of the Sock challenge! Worship – put letters out to spell the word.
Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObEoP4Iamyo. Try learning the actions from the boys in the video.
It is a word which sometimes describes what Christians do when they get together in church. They may say
prayers and hear Bible stories and sing; it is one way of saying ‘God you are great’. It is a bit like …
A celebration assembly: Show children some stickers / certificates given out in assembly. These are a way
of saying ‘we think you are amazing, brilliant, fabulous. When you get one of these people often come up to
you and say things like, ‘Well done you are wonderful!’
I wonder what words Christians might say to God to worship him: Lord you are ….. And why might they think
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
Page 5
that about God? Find a worship song – they often address God directly. Lord you are ….
Try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WDWz9Yz2x4 for a modern take on an old worship song. Children can
clap or bounce along. Tom and Tessa might sing this at a children’s service or at a special ‘praise party’ for
children at their church. Or they might sing a more sedate version at church!
And finally…
Why do Christians pray to God and worship him?
What and how and
why Christians pray
and what worship
The Lord’s Prayer is
central for Christians;
Jesus taught it to his
followers. It is seen as
a model for praying as
well as a prayer to use
together in worship (it
starts ‘our father’, not
Gather together everyone’s questions and consider which are best and whether we know any answers already.
You could always ask the Socks! Build up to “The Big Question”
Show children a rosary, a set of beads used by Catholic Christians to help them pray. We can learn lots about
how Christians pray and things they use like rosary beads to count their prayers. We need an answer to this
big question of WHY they pray and worship. Which of our questions will help us?
We also need to think about the word ‘worship’.
Introduce the EXPRESS task if appropriate: an individual artistic response to the big question and / or display
work on prayer and worship – maybe to be displayed in local church.
What can we find out about why Christians pray from the prayer Jesus taught?
Let’s ask Tom and Tessa … What do we know about Tom and Tessa? Christians, followers of Jesus. 2000
years ago when Jesus lived on earth, he had followers and he taught them all about God. He also showed
them how to pray. See children’s Bible storybook e.g. The Lion First Bible c.49.
OR Use a Reflective Story “The Lord’s Prayer” (from A Book of Reflective Stories 2, or the Lords’ Prayer CD) to
explore how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. A Discovery Centre storyteller or a local church member could
be invited to do this. Or make the story characters yourself out of card and add a peg on the back to make
them stand. The story can also be told with one person reading the script and another moving the pieces.
Talking partners discuss the “wondering questions” –
 I wonder why Jesus’ friends wanted to pray like Jesus?
 I wonder why Christians still use this prayer?
 I wonder why Jesus chose these parts?
 I wonder which part is the most important? …. And why?
Adult to record the children’s responses after each question on different mind maps (to add to learning wall)
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
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‘my father’).
The materials in The
Lord’s Prayer CD and
Great Prayer and
worship Adventure are
designed to do this
section in more detail.
Some Christians
practise silent prayer
(contemplation /
meditation), filling their
mind with thoughts of
God’s great love, not
‘emptying’ it as in some
What can we find out about how Christians pray from the prayer Jesus taught?
Base this around a feely bag – see Appendix
TA to complete mind map of the children’s responses to each object (use drawings depicting sections of the
Lord’s Prayer and add to learning wall at end of session)
After working through the objects in the bag ask children to put the sections of the prayer under 3 headings of
praise, asking, forgiveness
Investigate children’s prayer books for other prayers which would come in these categories. You could add the
category of ‘thanks’, referring back to earlier work.
Do prayers always need words people can hear?
Lay out some sparkly material with a candle with some beautiful pictures of nature surrounding it. Sit children
round the edge. Put on quiet music or a Taize chant (see Resources). Light the candle and try to be still and
silent for a whole minute or even two. Some Christians like to be still and pray inside their head.
How does it feel? A special verse from the Bible says: ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Being still and quiet
can be another way of praying. Christians say God knows what you want to say and although he loves to hear
your words, he also understands when you don’t know the words to say or just want to sit with him, like sitting
with a favourite relative!
What will we ask a Christian visitor about how and why they pray?
your RE learning
about prayer and
Use opportunities
throughout unit to check
achievement but here is
Prepare questions together and think about possible answers. Refine questions. (Use sock puppets to
practise questions / answers?)
With a visitor
Remind children and visitor of the Key Question – Why do Christians pray to God and worship him?
Allow time for children to say some of the things they have already found out. Then take it in turns to ask
questions of your Christian visitor /s which show some understanding of prayer and worship and of what they
still want to know.
At the end: What else have you found out? Will you be able to do your ‘Express’ tasks?
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
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an explicit opportunity.
See Assessment Grid
for ‘I can’ statements.
your RE learning so it
can be shared with
Without a visitor
Lay out pictures of people praying, artefacts brought in by Tom and Tessa, a copy of the Lord’s Prayer, picture
of feeding of 5000, etc and add an unlit candle (or light if safe) to the collection. Look carefully. Play a prayer
song in the background.
Consider the Key Question together and talk about how much you know now with your talking partner. Write
something important you have learnt on a small whiteboard – maybe using ‘I can’ statements for different
children to complete. These could be recorded on sound buttons for display.
How will you share your learning with others?
Create an artistic response to the Key Question. Each child has a large blank cross or a church shape and
decorates it in a way they feel expresses why Christians pray to God and worship him. Provide lots of paint,
glue, tissue paper, sequins, felt tip pens …and access to word banks, cut out words, etc to help them write an
appropriate label for their work and add work to the Learning Wall.
Consider using the Spirited Arts competition or website to give children a wider audience. The competition is
run by the National Association of RE Teachers and is always an excellent source of material.
You may be in time to enter the 'Art in Heaven' competition 2014.
If not, use the gallery of entries for 2014 to inspire you.
Relevant Theme... Worship - What's going on? Who, what, where, when & why?
There are many religions, many ways of worshipping, and many questions to ask about worship.
Make a work of art that shows something about human worship. Will it be a holy building? A picture about the meaning of prayers? A way
of seeing a festival as an act of worship? But some people worship themselves, or some celebrity, or being rich, famous or successful.
What do you worship, and how? Think about how and why people worship, and what people worship. You could compare two different
forms of worship. Explain your ideas to go with your image
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
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Attainment Target 1 ~ Learning about religion and belief
How pupils develop their knowledge, skills and understanding
with reference to:
beliefs, teachings
practices and
forms of
and sources
ways of life
Attainment Target 2 ~ Learning from religion and belief
How pupils, in the light of their learning about religion, express their
responses and insights with regard to questions and issues about:
identity and
meaning, purpose
values and
and truth
I can
I can
I can
I can
I can
I can
remember a Christian
story and talk about it
use the right names for
things that are special in
a religion
recognise and talk about
religious art, symbols
and words
talk about things that
happen to me
talk about what I find
interesting or puzzling
talk about what is
important to me and to
other people
e.g. talk about how
Jesus taught his
disciples to pray to
e.g. say “That is the
Lord’s Prayer” when I
hear it said or sung e.g.
e.g. recognize when
words are being said as
a prayer (or praise song)
and talk about them
e.g. talk about times
when I need help and
about who helps me
e.g. talk about why
some children learn to
talk to God (pray) and
others don’t
e.g. talk about who I want
to say thank you to and
why, and that Christians
say thank you to God
tell a Christian story
and say some things
that people believe
talk about some of the
things that are the same
for different religious
say what some Christian
symbols stand for and
what some of the art,
music, etc is about
ask about what happens
to others with respect for
their feelings
talk about some things
in stories that make
people ask questions
talk about what is
important to me and to
others with respect for their
e.g. tell story of Jesus
feeding 5000 people
and say Christians
copy him by thanking
God for food
e.g. talk about how
people in different
religions pray, and say
some things about how
Christians pray
e.g. say Christians may
use a rosary and what it
is for OR, say what the
words of a prayer are
e.g. ask different people
about praying to find out
what they do, or whether
they pray
e.g. talk about some of
the phrases in the Lord’s
prayer and the questions
they pose
e.g. talk about whether or
not I think praying is
important, with respect for
Christians who think it is
describe what a
believer might learn
from a religious story
describe some of the
things that are the same
and different for religious
use religious words to
describe some different
ways people show their
compare some of the
things that influence me
with those that influence
other people
ask important questions
about life; compare my
ideas with those of
link things that are
important to me and other
people with the way I think
and behave
e.g. describe what
some phrases of the
Lord’s Prayer teach
Christians about God
and about themselves
e.g. describe how some
of the things Christians
do when they pray are
the same and some
different e.g. words,
posture, artefacts
e.g. use words pray and
worship to describe
different ways Christians
show belief in God’s
greatness e.g. saying
how amazing God is,
believing he can help.
e.g. compare how some
children learn to pray
and thank God for their
food because they are in
Christian families with
who / what influences
e.g. ask about whether it
is important to say sorry
and compare my ideas
with Christians who
believe it is important to
confess / say sorry to
e.g. say how people who
think God is important,
behave towards him e.g.
worshipping/ praying; link
who is important to me with
how I behave towards
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
Page 9
APPENDIX: Feely Bag exercise for the LORD’S PRAYER
Object in feely bag
Phrase from
Question - Timed time with talking
partners before giving responses –
even if only 30 secs- use a timer!
Possible explanation
Super dad medal
“Our Father in
What makes a Superdad?
Jesus wants people to know that they are
praying to someone better than even the most
loving father. He will never let people down, or
give up on us. He will always be there.
Gold envelope with children’s
names on stickers inside including
one with ‘God’
“Hallowed be
your name”
How does it make you feel to
have a named sticker? What if
someone tore your name up?
Shows that the person praying wants God to be
treated in the way he deserves; for them God is
special and holy.
Crown (Burger King!)
“Your Kingdom
come …”
If God is King, where is his
kingdom? What is his kingdom
Jesus asks people to pray that people would live
in love and peace with each other, just as it is in
Heaven. It reminds them to live how God wants
now and where his people are living right they
bring a bit of God’s kingdom to earth now.
Bread (real) – break and pass round
“Give us this
day our daily
What do you think are the things
that we all need in life? (not just
God is like a good parent who provides for his
children. He wants people to ask him for what
they need.
Envelope with large bill for TA: they
owe the teacher £20,000 for training
them. Children hot seat TA to see
how she/he feels. Teacher then
goes over and rips up the bill saying
“I cancel your debt”.
“Forgive us or
sins as we
forgive those
who sin
against us”
How would you feel if you had
done something bad and been
Sometimes others hurt people very badly, and it
is hard to ask God to help forgive them. Jesus
said that if people want God to forgive them,
they have to forgive others.
Bar of chocolate
“Lead us not
into temptation
but deliver us
from evil”
What’s it like to want to take
something and how do we stop
Jesus walks with his followers and when we are
tempted he can save them, guide them and
protect them He promises to be there all the
time including when things are difficult..
Piece of precious gold thread (wool
“For yours is
What might it be like to have the
For Christians, God is always the greatest, and
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Page 10
or ribbon) – big enough to pass
round the class and tie together as a
circle with the children holding it.
Explain: I wonder what this is …see
the ends of the thread, time is like a
line that goes on and on. The end
looks like the beginning. We can tie
them together to make the time line
go on for ever and ever. Like God –
the same for ever and ever
Laminated speech bubble “Yes!’
the kingdom,
the power and
the glory, for
ever and ever.
“power” for ever and ever …?
How do we finish a letter to a
has been and will be for ever. Christians want to
show that God is the greatest so they sing and
cheer and dance.
Christians believe God is with them now and
always. He is the King of everything.
NB Jewish and Muslim people also use
Amen to end a prayer
At the end of a prayer, Christians say “Amen” – a
big cheer. Sometimes they say ‘Amen’ while
someone else is praying to show they agree with
them. Amen is a Hebrew word which means
“Yes, I agree” or “So be it”.
Resources for this enquiry:
Tom and Tessa - are imaginary Christian characters who enable you to talk about things Christian children
learn or do. They provide a context for pupils’ learning which is easier to handle than talking abstractly
about religious people. You can create your own Tom and Tessa by enlarging and using our cartoon
characters, drawn by Dennis Buhr. However, you could use persona dolls or suitable photos of children to
create similar characters. The names ‘Tom’ and ‘Tessa’ are immaterial; feel free to change them.
Sometimes scenarios can be created around their lives to start a discussion. Sometimes they help by
bringing in a bag containing Christian artefacts or books! Here are suggestions for this unit:
A children’s story Bible (see below)
Children’s prayer books (www.lionhudson.com)
Lord’s Prayer - book or on a plaque / bookmark
Grace cube (see below)
Rosary beads for Catholic children (buy from internet or borrow)
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
Page 11
Some recommended story resources:
The Big Bible Story book - www.scriptureunion.org.uk
The Lion First Bible - www.lionhudson.com
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones
From The Discovery Centre, Bury St Edmunds / [email protected] ‘
Book of Reflective Stories 2 (book + CD of scripts, actions, patterns).
Includes Lord’s Prayer Script (also on Lord’s Prayer CD)
Graces - see children’s prayer books or a Grace cube. Or make your own ‘Grace’ cube.
If you like to sing, these sites have dozens of simple sung graces, often including midi-files so
you can hear them.
Christian artefacts e.g. rosary beads, prayer books and grace cubes etc can be bought in Christian bookshops or on the internet but there are
two useful Religious artefacts companies who sell to schools too:
Religion in Evidence
Articles of Faith
The initial ideas for this unit were worked on by Karen Walmsley (Moulton CEVC Primary) and Katie Orchard (teacher / Discovery
Centre team) at the Emmanuel Project days at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre 2012. Thank you both for your hard work!
Helen Matter, Diocesan Schools’ Adviser - [email protected] / 01473 298570
Page 12