Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jesus Talks about Prayer by Martin Wiles

(All material is original to the author with the exception of songs and activities which have been borrowed from various sources. All studies are free for public use.)

Jesus Talks about Prayer
Scripture Reference: Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-8
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)

Objectives: To encourage children to develop a healthy prayer pattern and to remind them that God loves for us to talk to him by praying. 

Say: Today we are going to look at two different stories Jesus told about prayer. The Bible tells us about many occasions when Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven. If Jesus saw the need of praying, surely it must be important. When we pray, we talk to God just like we talk to other people. Even though we can’t hear God talk back to us, we can hear him in our hearts. God wants his children to talk to him. He’s our heavenly Father, and we should talk to him just as we do our earthly parents. 

Say: (Display the following verse where the children can easily see it.) Let’s say our memory verse together. Keep on asking, and you will receive…Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9 NLT)

Bible Story Time: 
Tell the children two stories Jesus told that teach us different things about prayer. The first story is called the Friend at Midnight, and the second is the Parable of the Persistent Widow:

Just before Jesus told the story of the Friend at Midnight, he taught his disciples a prayer. We call it the Lord’s Prayer. How many of you have heard it? Let’s say it together: 

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Reflection: What do you think would happen if you went to your friend’s house at midnight and asked for food?

Most people are asleep at midnight, so waking them and asking for something to eat might make them mad. Even if they were your good friend, they probably wouldn’t enjoy having to get up, get dressed, go to the kitchen, and cook you something to eat. If they had children, all the noise might wake them too. And if it was a mom, she would probably wake the dad. If they had animals, the dog might start barking and the cat might begin to meow. 

The person Jesus tells about did this very thing. A friend came to his house at midnight, and he had nothing to feed him. He was probably traveling by foot and at night because it was cooler. During this time, people often brought their barnyard animals in at night to protect them. They slept on the lower floor, and the family slept on a raised part. The animals and people would have been asleep at midnight. Someone knocking on the door would have awakened the animals and the entire family. In order to get to the door, the man would have to step over the animals. Imagine what a ruckus it would have caused to answer the door.

But the person kept knocking. “I need food,” he hollered. “I don’t have anything to feed this friend of mine who just showed up.” Because he kept knocking and hollering—waking up the entire neighborhood, the man finally got up, disturbed his whole household, and gave him the bread. 

Reflection: What do you think Jesus is teaching about prayer in this story?

The other story Jesus told is about a widow—a woman whose husband had died. During this time widows didn’t have the government to take care of them. They had to rely on friends, strangers, family members, or people they went to church with. 

This particular widow was being harmed by someone. Jesus doesn’t tell us what was happening, but she needed a judge’s help. She came to the judge repeatedly, but he didn’t want to help her. Finally, after she had bothered him numerous times, the judge finally decided to help her. The judge said, “This woman is driving me crazy.” He eventually helped her so she would quit bothering him. 

Reflection: What do you think Jesus was teaching about prayer in this story? 

In these stories, Jesus is teaching us that we need to pray and pray often. We should make time every day to pray to God. How long we pray isn’t as important as the fact that we do pray. In fact, we can say little short prayers throughout the day. Some people call these “microwave prayers.” The Bible tells us to pray without stopping. We don’t necessarily have to close our eyes when we say these short prayers. If mom or dad needed to say a quick prayer while they were driving, you wouldn’t want them to close their eyes, would you? And what should we pray for? It’s okay to ask God for things we need, but most of our prayers should be for other people and what they need. God has promised to give us everything we need, but we need to ask him to do the same for others. 

Reflection: Before completing the activity break, let children give examples of selfish and unselfish prayers. 

Reflection: Help children understand the importance of having a daily prayer time but also understanding this is not the only time they can pray. Also teach them that short prayers during the day don’t substitute for specific prayer times with God. Both are important. 

Reflection: What are some things you might need to offer “microwave” prayers for during the day? 

Activity Break: 
Place a large sheet of paper on the wall and let children make a prayer list, telling why it’s important to pray for and about the things they mention. These can be things that you as a class can pray for each week. 

Wrap Up: 
Give children a blank sheet of paper and let them draw and then color something related to prayer. 

Transition
Let’s sing a song to remind us how important prayer is.

Song:  (to the tune of “Are You Sleeping?”

Prayer is Talking,
Prayer is Listening,
to our God, 
with our God, 
In the morning, 
In the evening, 
Anywhere, 
Any time.

Take Away:
Let each child tell one thing they learned about prayer from today’s stories.