When was the last time you taught a Sunday school lesson on a Psalm? (Okay, other than Psalm 23?)
In most churches the Psalms don’t get a lot of air time in Sunday school. We tend to stick with narrative portions of Scripture when teaching children. We talk about how big, powerful, faithful, and amazing God is. God keeps his promises! God wins even when he seems to be losing! Of course the Psalms celebrate God’s promises kept, and God’s victories won, but they also express other emotions. Sometimes doubt or fear and sometimes with a tone that sounds irreverent. Perhaps the Psalms just aren’t meant for kids… Or are they?
Laura and Robert J. Keeley, authors and experts in the area of children’s spirituality, think Psalms have an important role to play in forming the faith of kids and teens. They’ve just published an electronic family devotional on the Psalms that is available free of charge through the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.
In the opening paragraphs of the devotional they write about the wide range of emotions expressed in the Psalms and the value that Psalms have for children and teens. “Psalms show us how we can respond to God, and they remind us that God knows us just as we are and hears us, even when our words are harsh. This is one reason why children and teens can benefit from knowing the psalms. When children are only exposed to the “feel-good” aspects of Christianity they may think that people of faith should not feel sad or angry. They may think that praise is the only attitude to have when addressing God and that they’re being “bad Christians” if they are hurting or have questions. The psalms reassure us that all these emotions are part of the human experience. It is important for children to know that they don’t always have to be happy to come to God. It is important that they learn how to tell God they’re sorry. It is important for them to learn how to ask God to help them. The psalms demonstrate all these things.”
How have you (or could you) incorporate the Psalms into prayer times, conversations, and Sunday school lessons with kids and teens?