When Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9-15, he used the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern. Jesus told his followers that if they forgave others, God would forgive them, but if the person praying was not willing to forgive others, God would not forgive his sins. Activities on forgiveness can bring this point home to children in church and encourage them to forgive others.
Colorful Lord's Prayer (1, 2 p 12)
You can teach kids from preschool to grade five the Lord’s Prayer by using ribbons for each of the important phrases found in the prayer. You need 6 inches each of ribbon or yarn in blue, white, purple, green brown, red, black and gold. As you tie each of the ribbon segments into a long strip, you can explain the color’s meaning in the prayer. Say, “Blue represents fathers for ‘Our Father, in heaven.’ White is for holiness as you pray, ‘hallowed by your name.’ Purple represents royalty when you pray, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done.’ Green represents the planet when you pray, ‘on Earth as it is in heaven.’ When you see brown, think of a bread crust as you pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Red represents the blood of Jesus who died that your sins could be forgiven as you pray, ‘and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.’ Black is the color of evil and sin as you pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ Gold reminds you that heaven is your forever home with God when you pray, ‘For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.' ”
Far Away Sin
In Psalms 103:1-12, David writes that God forgives sins, does not stay angry at the sinner, shows mercy to the sinner with a lesser consequence than the sinner deserves and removes the sin from the sinner “as far as the east is from the west.” Have one student stand next to another to represent the sin and the sinner. Ask the two children: “Move as far away from each other as you can and still stay in the room.” You can explain that God removes sins much farther away. Use a globe to show the children that you could travel east and never have the direction you travel become west, although you could travel north, and eventually travel south when you rounded the end of the North Pole. Explain to the children, “When God removes sin 'as far as the east is from the west,’ there is no way for it to get farther away from you. It’s like you at one end of the universe and your sin at the other.”
Can I Forgive?
Children might believe that there are some sins they can’t forgive. Ask the child, “What is the meanest, most wrong thing that anyone ever did to you?” Your child may offer various ideas, so be willing to listen to the things that wound a child’s heart and body. Direct the child through the things that happened to Jesus before his death, such as betrayal by a friend, beating, mocking, thorns pressed into his head, crucifixion and death. Read Luke 23:34 to your child and talk about how hard it would be for you to forgive someone who did this to you. Read Matthew 6:12-15 and ask, “How would you feel if God refused to forgive you because you wouldn’t forgive someone?” Lead your child in a prayer of forgiveness if your child has refused to forgive someone, saying, “God help me to forgive her as Jesus forgave those who hurt him. Amen.”
Sometimes it helps to get a visual of forgiven sins. Micah writes that God forgives sins, casting them in the depths of the sea so they disappear. Use soap paint and a small paint brush to write sins on a piece of white fabric that represents the soul. Dissolve 1/2 cup of grated soap in 2 cups of water, stirring until the soap is fully dissolved. Stir in 4 more cups of water and 1 cup of liquid starch before dividing the mix into small portions you can add food coloring or powdered tempera paint to make your paints. After the sins are dry on the cloth, throw them in the washer to represent the sea. Wash them and display a clean cloth.