Freerange Friday: Back to School, Adding and Subtracting

by Lilly Lewin

By Lilly Lewin

I am on the road in Denver,Colorado this week, helping our youngest son move and get ready for law school. It’s hard to believe that here in the States we are already thinking BACK TO SCHOOL, when my friends in the UK are just getting into the summer holidays and all the fun of festivals and celebration. Even if we don’t have kids in school, we are all in the season of transition.  How do we get rhythm back? How can we start well or begin again to connect with God even if our schedules are getting busy? Or if you are beginning your holidays, how do you make sure you are actually rested when you start up again? As most of you know, I believe in praying along the way, and I love using every day things I see to help me connect with God and encourage me to pray.

I often get inspired for my prayer experiences and prayer station ideas by going to the dollar store and places like Target. Jesus used the things he saw everyday, and things his followers saw every day, to teach lasting visual and symbolic lessons. So why can’t we use things we see everyday to remind us to pray? I believe we can too!

Since it is BACK TO SCHOOL season in my neck of the woods, I’d love to share again a prayer idea involving Subtraction and Addition Flash Cards. You know, the kind that teaches students math facts like 2+2=4  or 6-3=3. You can use these at your dinner table with your family, with a small group, a youth group, Sunday School class, or even by yourself.

You just need to buy a pack of subtraction and addition flash cards at the dollar store or Target, and each person needs a sharpie marker or other pen to use to write on their card.

Everyone gets two cards, one subtraction and one addition.

Have each person (you too) hold a subtraction card in their hand.

Ask your group members or family members to think about their lives right now, think about their calendars, their day, month etc.

What things might they need to subtract from their lives that might be getting in the way of peace, joy, creativity? Things which add stress or cause frustration or even sleepless nights, or things that are robbing them of relationships. You can modify this question according to the ages of your group. Give them space to think about this. And you can even give a couple of examples, like subtracting arguing or complaining or subtracting screen time when you could be having a conversation or be doing homework. Then ask them “What things do you need to subtract from your life that might be getting in the way of your relationship with God?”  Give them time to talk to God about this. Have them write down on the subtraction card, the things that they want to subtract in order to have more space in their lives and more time with God. If you are doing this with your small group or youth group, have them take home their subtraction cards as a tangible visual aid to remind them of what they need to subtract in order to have a better relationship with God in the days ahead.

At the end of the month, or the semester you might get the cards out again and have everyone reflect on how their subtraction process has gone.  Personally I am in need of subtracting time on my phone checking email and instagram right before bed!

You can use the ADDITION CARDS to consider what things you’d like to ADD into your life that would help you connect better with Jesus. Doing the same process of writing these down and giving them to Jesus. You can even share cards with someone else and have that partner pray for you for the things you need to add or the things you need to subtract!

This prayer idea is found in the BACK2SCHOOL PRAY EXPERIENCE KIT if you’d like more ideas of how to pray with School Supplies. It’s a great kick off for youth group, Sunday School or even your entire Church community. You can check out other prayer ideas and even download an entire prayer experience using school supplies at freerangeworship.com. I also have a great prayer experience using the tables where Jesus sat called “AT THE TABLE WITH JESUS” that is a great resource for prayer stations if you want to think ahead towards Thanksgiving. Both of these kits include prayer stations that can be done all together as in a sacred space prayer room or they can be used individually after a weekly teaching or sermon.

Take time this weekend to SUBTRACT something that is keeping you from Jesus
Take time this weekend to SUBTRACT something that is keeping you from relationships with others.
Take time to ADD something that truly brings you JOY!
Take time to ADD something that brings you closer to God and helps you bring hope to others who need it.

Blessings to all teachers as you prepare for the new year ahead! Thank you for what you do each day to bring learning and love to children and adults of all ages! I’m going to ADD praying for all my teacher friends on a more regular basis!

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