By Edgar Mayer
Interaction with live persons and puppet - in which Pastor asks why his prayers are not working.
Pastor: Children, where is Mr. Rocky? He was supposed to come here this morning. Have you seen him?
Children: No, we haven't.
P: That's not like him. Hmm, I know that he likes to sleep in a little. Maybe he's still in bed and we need to call him to wake him up. Let's call Mr. Rocky. Let's do it loud and clear.
Ch: Mr. Rocky, Mr. Rocky, Mr. Rocky.
Rocky: (comes stretching his arms and back) (says in a grumpy voice) Every day I have to get up. (in a sleepy voice) Hallo children. Good morning, Pastor.
P & Ch: Good morning, Mr. Rocky.
P: Do you need a coffee, Mr. Rocky?
R: Yes, thank you.
One child: (brings a little cup to Mr. Rocky and lets him drink from it)
R: Oh, that was good.
P: Are you ready now to help us with some questions?
R: You always got questions, Pastor. How long will you have to depend on an aged man like me? Ah, go on.
P: Well, today the whole business of praying to God is confusing me. My prayers are not working.
R: How can you tell?
P: He doesn't give me what I pray for.
R: Poor man. What do you pray for?
P: Don't laugh, but every day I pray for a new car (you know a bigger and faster one). Only every time I check the garage, the old car is still standing there.
R: Does that surprise you?
P: Not really. I strongly suspect that I haven't got the right technique. I just go about it the wrong way.
R: What do you mean? Don't speak in riddles, Pastor.
P: You'll see in a minute. Children, let me ask you some questions.
Have you ever prayed yourself? Have you seen other people pray? How do you do it? How do you pray?
What do you do with your eyes? (Close them.) Why? (Don't be distracted) Do all praying people shut their eyes? (No.) When people pray do they always speak out aloud? Can you always hear them? (No.) What do praying people do with their hands? (They fold them.) Why? (Show respect. Don't do anything else.) All of them? (No. Some raise their hands in praise.) Do people sit down when they pray or do they stand up? What else do some people do? (Some even keel.) Why? (To humble themselves before God.) Thank you, children.
Mr. Rocky, do you understand now why I am confused? Which technique promises sure-fire success? Should I pray silently or speak the words aloud? Should I pray with eyes closed or eyes open? Should I stand, sit or kneel? Should my hands be folded or not?
R: Pastor, you woke me up for that? You're such a baby in the faith. Tell me! Who are you as a Christian?
P: What do you mean?
R: What is your status before God?
P: I suppose I'm a called and ordained servant of the word.
R: Oh dear. No pastor. What is more important than that?
P: Help me.
R: All right. I hate to admit it but one day the disciples and I asked Jesus the same question: Jesus, how do we pray? What's the best technique and which words promise success? Then Jesus taught us a prayer that started off with: "Our Father ... " Do you understand what that means, Pastor?
P: God is our heavenly Father?
R: Yes, and what else?
P: I guess, if he's our heavenly parent, then we are his children.
R: Precisely. That's your status as a Christian.
P: What has that to do with the way we should pray?
R: Can't you figure it out? If God is your loving parent, then he listens to you no matter how childish a child of God you are.
P: I still don't have the car.
R: You're trying my patience, Pastor. You may not have the car yet, but God certainly listens and responds to your prayers.
P: How do you know?
R: Jesus told us a story. Open your Bible and read Luke 11:5-10. Maybe one of the children can read for us. Who would like to read?
Child: "Then Jesus went on to say: Suppose one of you goes to a friend in the middle of the night and says, 'Let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine has dropped in, and I haven't got anything for him to eat.' And suppose your friend answers, 'Don't bother me! The door is bolted, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up to give you anything.' He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are so persistent to keep on asking. So I tell you to ask and you will receive, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you."
R: Thank you very much. Well read. Pastor, can you see now that God will certainly respond to our prayers? It's in the story.
P: I'm not sure, what's in the story. What does Jesus want me to learn?
R: You can figure it out.
P: Well. In the story a man needed to borrow bread from a reluctant neighbour. Eventually he got it. But will we eventually get what we want from Jesus? I don't know. The story does not grab me. Today's neighbours often won't help out.
R: Oh yes, they will. Success is certain. Watch a reenactment of the story and see how it works. X please.
X: Good morning children. I want you to be my guests this morning. (Looks in his bag, shakes his head and says:) Oh dear, I haven't enough food for you. How did that happen? Come with me. We go to my neighbour. He'll help us out. (They all go to the vestry door and knock.)
Y: (Y does not open the door.) Who's knocking? On Sundays leave me alone.
X: (Keeps on knocking.) I need your help. I have hungry children with me.
Y: (Y opens the door and sees X and the children.) What did you say?
X: Please lend me some food for these children. They are my guests and I have nothing to give them.
Y: No, that's your problem. (shuts the door.)
X: (bangs on the door and cries for food) Open the door. We need food. Give us something.
Children, let's call this man together. Let's say: Open the door, we need food.
X & Ch: Open the door. We need food. Open the door. We need food.
Y: (Opens the door.) Stop that racket at once. I get the police.
X: No, you won't. Give us food. We won't go away unless you help us out.
Y: (Shuts the door again.)
X: Children, together again.
X & Ch: Open the door. We need food ...
Y: (Opens the door) You get on my nerves.
X: That's good. If you don't help us out now, we will go to the Chronicle and tell them how mean you are. You'll read about it in tomorrow's paper.
Y: The Chronicle, hey? All right, all right. I do what you want. (Goes into the vestry and then returns with a tray of chocolate for the children. Each child gets a piece. All return to Mr Rocky and Pastor.)
R: Thank you X and Y. I think Pastor finally got the point. What did you learn, Pastor?
P: Well, just as reluctant neighbours will eventually do what they are asked to do, so Jesus will always respond to our requests.
R: Not bad.
P: I'm still not happy.
R: What now?
P: The story has a dark side.
R: What do you mean?
P: Is God like a reluctant neighbour? Do we have to bug him into helping us? Do we have to get on his nerves before he does anything?
R: I should have seen that coming. For you everything needs to be fool-proof. Of course we don't have to bug God or get on his nerves. Listen again to the words of Jesus. Luke 11:11-13. Who would like to read this passage? Anyone? Thank you.
Ch: "Which one of you fathers would give your hungry child a snake if the child asked for a fish? Which one of you would give your child a scorpion if the child asked for an egg? As bas as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks."
R: Thank you. Well read. So Pastor, what do you say?
P: I do get it. If we humans give our children what they need, if we humans respond to requests from children or neighbours, how much more will our heavenly Father respond to us, his children. He is much more loving than any person on earth. I'm sure now that he listens to my prayers.
R: What about the new car then?
P: It should be in the garage soon.
R: (Sighs.) Do you really think so?
P: Sure. My wife would give it to me, if she was able to. God loves me even more than my wife. He will do it for sure. I learned the lesson.
R: (Eyes to heaven, in a despairing voice) Why did God send me here?
No, Pastor. Read again the last sentence of the Bible reading.
P: As you wish: "As bas as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks."
R: What will you receive, when you pray?
P: The Holy Spirit is mentioned.
R: What does the Holy Spirit do?
P: He brings God's blessings. Freedom from sin, death and the devil. And a lot more.
R: Yes, and a lot more. The Holy Spirit also speaks to you. Praying is also listening.
P: I never hear much.
R: That's because you are always so busy talking, babbling on about a new car.
Come into God's presence and listen for a change.
P: How can I do that? He never speaks aloud. Do you think the Holy Spirit comes to guide our thoughts when we pray?
R: Well done. Finally a spark that we can work with. Yes, the Holy Spirit comes to guide your thoughts when you pray and he makes you see things from a different angle.
P: I was afraid of that. God may not want to give me a new car. How sad.
R: Cheer up. You won't miss out on anything good.
P: Okay. It's time, Mr Rocky. Sum up and then we'll have to go.
R: All right. What have we learnt today? Whether standing up or lying down, God hears all our prayers. God is our heavenly parent and he loves us, his children. Pray and you will receive the Holy Spirit. He will give you what you need and he will speak to you.
That's it. It's time. Good bye, children. Good bye, Pastor.
Ch: Good bye, Mr Rocky.
P: Good bye, Mr Rocky.
© Edgar Mayer
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