Psalm 130: 1-8, O Lord, Hear our Prayer
Note to the Teacher
We come to the end of our Lenten series before we engage in Palm Sunday and commemoration and celebration of Holy Week. As we close, we look at Psalm 130, a psalm that cries out to God in pain and despair. A voice that is desperate to be heard, to be known. So many of us find ourselves at that same place of desperation. Your students feel this on a level that is often very severe. They feel alienated, they feel misunderstood, and they feel loneliness on a crippling level sometimes. And as much as you want to tell them that you know what they’re going through, we can often cause more damage than healing with those words because we don’t truly know what it is that they are going through. We don’t walk alongside them through everything, and we don’t witness and feel what they go through. Although, there is someone who does truly know. Someone who’s been through it all with them and is ready to lay down their life and bring an end to the suffering. Jesus knows, and that’s why we cry out to the Lord. The Ice Breaker will teach students they need to rely on each other to complete the task at hand. The Discussion highlights the individual nature of our personal struggles, but the collective and unified effort of our Lenten journey. The Activity can be a bit of a big step for youth groups who aren’t the most inter-connected, but it emphasizes the crucial point that we are in this together, unified as one body. Times are based on a 50-minute lesson period, but can be adjusted.
Description of activity (time)
1. Ice Breaker: Going up or going down (10 minutes)
How to play: You start by splitting everyone up into teams of two. Everyone is standing and has their backs against each other. Holding their hands in the air, they must sit on the floor without falling over. After they sit down, tell them that they must get back up (also with their hands in the air).
After your teams have successfully (or somewhat successfully – you decide) completed the task, mix up the teams. Make sure that you now have three people on each team and repeat the process. After that, break up the groups into teams of four. This game can be versatile, and can be played whether you have four, eight, or twenty youth. The ultimate challenge is to see if you can have your entire group sit with their backs to each other and see if they can sit down and stand up.
Tie it back in: This ice breaker fits perfectly into our lesson reminding us that we are all in this together.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our Psalm is an appropriate lamentation for the end of our series. We’ve spent a lot of time introspectively evaluating the sin and shame in our life. A lot of your students are probably feeling the same as our psalmist, crying out to God, waiting and watching diligently for Easter Sunday.
Read Psalm 130: 1-8.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
In this Psalm we see the psalmist crying out to God in a lament. There is a difference between lamenting and complaining. Complaining is crying out ABOUT God, Lamenting is crying out TO God. What is the difference between crying out ABOUT God and crying out TO God?
- How can we work to lament to God instead of complaining?
- Imagine you have a broken relationship with a dear friend of yours. What would it look like if you approached them and complained about them? What would it look like to go and lament to that person?
- Thinking back to Lent. During Lent we can feel really unsettled by the nature of our own sin. What does it look to complain about God during Lent? What does it look like to lament to God during Lent?
- When someone is struggling through something difficult is it always helpful to say, “I know what you are going through.”
- How can that phrase do more damage than good?
- It’s not fair to say you know what someone is going through. You may have experienced something similar to what that person is going through, but you haven’t walked alongside them in the midst of their struggles. You haven’t felt the same way they are feeling about it or even from the same sources that they are feeling it from. But there is someone who knows exactly what their going through. Who is that? (Jesus)
- When we complain, it makes no difference who we complain to, but lamenting is different. Who we lament to does make a difference. Does it make more sense to lament to someone who understands us and can help in our current situation, or to lament to someone who is out of touch with what we’re experiencing?
- Looking back to the scripture, do you see a message of hope or despair more in the psalm? (A little bit of a trick question, there is a deep despair in the psalmist’s words, but there is a profound hope in the ability of the Lord to take away that despair)
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Our Collective Cry: Give everyone a couple strips of paper and a writing utensil. Have the students write down different prayer requests they have right now. When they have written their different prayer requests, have them come and place them in a basket. After everyone has finished, come back up and take one or a couple of prayer requests out of the basket. They will reflect and pray over the requests of their fellow students, again re-emphasizing the point that we are truly on this Lenten journey all together. Once they finish this time, have them come and tape the prayer request to a larger poster or foam core board. Once everyone has taped their prayer requests to the larger poster/board, hold it up in front of everyone and say that you’ve done this because we are not lifting up our own individual prayers but that we are lifting up our collective prayer to God – all of our hurts, struggles, joys, and concerns in one collective unified prayer. Have everyone bow their heads and have them say, “Lord we cry out to you, hear our prayer.” Before you start, emphasize that the students say “prayer” and not “prayers” since we are joining our prayers together to become one. After everyone has said it, close your group in prayer
- Strips of paper
- Writing utensils
- Poster board or foam core board