The first time I went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom I was enthralled with the banners and flags that hung in the land of Asia. We finally asked about them and were told that in some Asian traditions, people would hang flags up with pictures of their prayer requests so the wind could carry their prayers to God (or god as the case may be). They also tied bells in the trees so they could hear their prayers going to God.
Now, I realize this is slightly un-Christian in that they were probably worshiping some made up god. But I just love the visual of putting your prayer requests out where YOU can see them. Not because God notices a giant flag and will act. No, because it reminds ME that God does answer prayers and that we can talk to Him at all times about anything.
Prayer bells and flags do seem slightly more outward than a real internal conversation-prayer that you have with God. More symbolic than spiritual. But you know what? God was (is) into symbolism. I’m reading a really great book right now called, Treasured by Leigh McLeroy. Each chapter is about an item in the Bible like the blood-stained wood above the Hebrew slaves’ doors, Hagar’s wineskin and Joseph’s colorful coat. The last chapter I read really inspired me to do this activity with the kids–it is about a golden bell.
Really? A bell in the Bible? Sounds more Polar Express, doesn’t it?
God instructs the Israelites to fashion a tabernacle for him. He is specific in every detail–down to the lamp stands. He asks for his dwelling place to have gold, purple and scarlet thread, spices, silver, bronze and linen. It was going to be downright swanky! And when God got to the instructions for the priests’ clothing he didn’t spare any expense–or detail! He commanded that the robes would be richly embroidered with pomegranates and filled in with tiny golden bells. Imagine the priests (yes, the guys killing animals for sacrifice) decked out in embroidered clothes that jingled when they walked!
Leigh McLeroy calls God, “the God of Show and Tell” because of his attention to detail and beauty. The priests were to do this for Him–to show and tell of His greatness. Of course, when Jesus died on the cross and came back to life, He became our forever priest. (Hebrews 7:23-25) And He was the ultimate SHOW and TELL of God’s great love for us.
So, what does this have to do with some prayer banners? Well, I love the show-and-tell-ness of God. And I want to replicate that in our home–I want to SHOW off the greatness of God in our lives. That’s why I hang up scriptures everywhere in our house. And I want to TELL my children about the wonder and love He has for them. I want to make God known in our home!
Today, as we made our own prayer flags, we did them based on Philippians 4:6 CEV, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.” We talked about the things that worry us–what we need God’s help with; the things we want to ask God to do and the things we want to thank him for. Then we painted a symbol of those requests on our flags. They are waiting to dry but I cannot wait for them to hang in our house—or maybe even outside in a tree!
This verse came from our first “letter A” activity based on Big Thoughts for Little Peopleby Kenneth Taylor. The poem says, “A is for asking. We ask when we pray. God is happy to answer and help us each day.” I love the idea that God is happy to help us. Wow!! God as OUR helper?! That’s a nice thought.
We made our flags out of felt. I just cut a basic 29cent piece of felt into quarters. Then we used some stencils and fabric paint to make our symbols.
Lydia made a flower with the letter A for Alizeta, our Compassion daughter. She asked that God would take care of her. I made a flag for Papa (my dad) because he has Hepatitis C and I want God to heal him. We made a hand print to remind Lydia and Asa they are best friends. A smiley face because Lydia wants to be a helper. And a heart for Daddy because he had to go to the doctor today. And several more that were thoughtful requests to big happy thankful thank yous!
I don’t know about my kids, but when I see these flags hanging up, I will be reminded of the amazing love God has for me–that He is willing to be MY helper. And that He has commanded me to offer up requests to Him!