This free Bible lesson continues our series on the Lord’s Prayer. We’ll be posting more each week through November 2013, click here to see the latest in the series. Don’t miss our printable Lord’s Prayer coloring book, use it as an additional activity while teaching this unit.
Main idea: Since we are children of God, we can talk to God like we talk to our Daddy: anytime, anywhere.
- Read Scripture references and Galatians 4:1-7, Romans 8:14-17, Matthew 13:24-52, Revelation 21-22
- Gather: Bible, construction paper, scissors, strips of magnetic tape, markers or crayons, dry erase markers or chart paper and markers.
- Write “Our Father in heaven,” (Matthew 6:9) on a regular sheet of paper. Make sure it takes up the whole page, so it can easily be read. Fold it up and place it in an envelope.
- As you read the Scriptures describing heaven, take time to visualize and really imagine what it will be like. Heaven has a bad rap these days. People seem to think in heaven we’ll turn into these chubby babies with wings, and we’ll sit around on clouds and play little harps all day. Don’t get me wrong, I like babies and harps and clouds, but this version of heaven seems boring, and has no Biblical evidence to back it up. Read what Jesus tells us heaven is really like in Matthew 13 and Revelation 21-22. Doesn’t this get you at least a little excited? We get to spend all of forever with our heavenly father! What could possibly be better?
- Matthew 6:9-13
- Psalm 103:13
- Proverbs 3:11-12
- Philippians 3:20
- Romans 10:13
Play a game of Mother May I (or Father May I.) Select one child to be the first Father/Mother. Have all the other children stand, shoulder to shoulder, ten or twenty feet away from Father/Mother. They need to be far enough away to allow the game to last a few minutes, but close enough for the Parent to hear them make requests. The Children take turns asking Father/Mother if they may take steps toward Father/Mother. The first one to reach the parent wins that round. Example requests include, “Mother, may I take five giant steps?” “Father, may I take twelve karate steps?” To which the Parent will respond, “yes, you may,” or “no, you may not.” Emphasize that it is important for the Parent to treat all the Children equally, otherwise they may not receive fair treatment when they become a Child in the next round. Grant some requests, but not all. Encourage the Children to make up silly sorts of steps, because this makes it more fun. Chances are, the more creative the steps, the more likely Mother/Father is to grant the request. Allow game play to continue for a few rounds.
Open in prayer.
Over the past two weeks we have learned some important things that the Bible has to say about prayer. Today we are going to start looking at a very special prayer in the Bible. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus shares what we now call the Lord’s Prayer. I could tell you about it, or we can go into our Bibles and see what it has to say for ourselves. Let’s all turn to Matthew 6:9-13, and then I will have someone read the Lord’s Prayer out loud. (The following is the New Living Translation.)
9 Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
The first thing we read in this section of Scripture is “pray like this.” Jesus does not tell us to pray this prayer word for word every time we pray. He says pray like this. This prayer is an example of how we should pray and some of the things we should pray for. It’s kind of like how-to draw books. A how-to draw book can give us steps for drawing a monster truck, but our monster truck isn’t going to look exactly like the one in the book, and that’s good. The Lord’s Prayer communicates with us how to pray, and our prayers will look different than this. Let me be clear. Jesus gave us this prayer as an example of how to pray. It doesn’t mean we have to pray like this every time, and it doesn’t mean that we can’t pray this prayer word for word sometimes. In fact, we are going to work on memorizing this prayer as we study it over the next few weeks.
Every week, we will receive special letters from God. (Pull out the envelope you prepared earlier.) Letters are a way people communicate with one another, just like prayer is a way we communicate with God. Let’s open this letter and see what special message God has for us today. (Either open the letter yourself, or have a child open and read the letter. At the end of the lesson, hang this up somewhere in the room so you can refer to it in weeks to come. “Our Father in heaven,” is the first part of the prayer the students will memorize.) In the first part of a letter or email, you always start by addressing the person with whom you are communicating. You say things like “Dear Grandma,” or in business letters, “To Whom it May Concern.” Saying things like that let the readers know who the letter is for. So when we communicate with God, we open our prayers by addressing who he is. We say things like “Dear God,” or “Father,” The way the Lord’s Prayer opens is a great way to address God. It starts, “Our Father in heaven.” That is exactly who God is. Let’s take this opening apart a little bit at a time.
(Write “Our Father in heaven” on the board or chart paper, near the top. Underline “Our Father.”) First let’s look at “Our Father.” Let’s start by looking at other places in the Bible where it says God is like a father to us. (Either have sword drill or read the following verses to the class.) Psalm 103:13 says, “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.” When it says fear here, it doesn’t mean we are scared of God. It means we show him respect. When we show God we respect him, he is gentle and kind to us. Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Sometimes it can be tough when we are disciplined by our parents. Do you think, when we do something wrong, our parents punish us just to be mean? Of course not! Our parents want what is best for us, and sometimes that means being disciplined for doing wrong, so we don’t do it again in the future. Just like our parents, God wants what is best for us. So when we do wrong, God will discipline us so we can do right in the future.
Now we are going to brainstorm some qualities that good daddies have. (In the middle of the board or chart paper, write the word “father” and draw a circle around it. As children suggest qualities that good fathers possess, write the qualities in a circle and draw a line connecting the quality to the word “father.” Be very sensitive here. Remember that it is highly likely that not all children in your group have a good father, or in fact any father, at home. You may need to remind the children that earthly fathers sometimes make mistakes, but our heavenly Father is perfect and we can always trust in Him.) Now let’s think of good qualities in fathers. Raise your hand if you can think of things that good daddies do, and I will call on you and add your idea to our web up here. (Some characteristics to include are: loving, fun, good at fixing things, help us learn new stuff, protect us, provide for our needs, and discipline us when we need it, listen to us, we can talk to them whenever we need to, we can talk to them wherever we are. Help guide the kids to these things, along with the other good qualities they come up with. Continue until they run out of ideas or the board is full.) That’s a great list! God has all these qualities that good fathers have, and even more that we can’t even imagine!
The next important part of today’s lesson is “in heaven.” God is our father in heaven. Philippians 3:20 says, “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.” This means that our home is in heaven, with Jesus. I did some reading in the Bible on what heaven is going to be like. It gives us some ideas, but the Bible doesn’t tell us everything about heaven. Why do you think it doesn’t tell us everything about heaven? I think it is because heaven is going to be so awesome, we can’t even begin to imagine everything that waits for us with Jesus in heaven! Let me share some of the things I learned about heaven while I was preparing for this lesson. (Either read directly from Matthew 13 or summarize some of the things that stuck out to you the most.)
So now we can understand that God is our Father in heaven and we can talk to him about anything, anytime we want, just like we do with our parents. In our game of “Mother May I,” an important part of the game was when we politely asked permission to move from the parent. If we don’t ask politely, chances were, the parent wouldn’t let us move. God is a father who loves us no matter what, so we should be polite and show him we respect him, by not whining or being repetitive when we talk to him. Just think, do your parents appreciate it when you speak disrespectfully to them? Neither does God. Before we do our craft, let’s talk to our heavenly father.
Close in prayer.
Make cell phone book marks to remind us that we can talk to God at anytime, anywhere we go. To make a flip phone, fold an 8” by 3” sheet of construction paper in half. Trim the corners to make them rounded, like a phone. Decorate the front and inside to look like a phone using markers or crayons. Place small strips of magnetic tape on the top and bottom inside of the phone, so when it closes, it is kept shut by the magnets. If you don’t want to use magnet strips, have the kids make whatever type of phone they want. For older children, have them write Romans 10:13 “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” On the screen area of their cell phone bookmark. Remind all the children that we can call on our heavenly father anytime we want to.