Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids about the importance of praying for other people.
Needed: Bibles, soft balls or paper wads, two dice
Intro Game: Despite All Obstacles
Set up an obstacle course with two mirror paths. Divide the students into two teams. One student from each team runs the obstacle course at a time while the other team members line up along the length of the obstacle course. When they’re not running, the members of the opposite team throw soft balls or paper wads at the runner from the sidelines.
If a student makes it through the obstacle course without being hit, they score a point for their team and return to the sidelines. If they are hit, they go to the sidelines to throw but not run again. After each pair runs the course, gather the balls or paper wads again for the next two to run.
The game ends when all the students have run the course. The team with the most points wins.
Afterward, explain that we have to do the right things in life even when it seems difficult. There might be things that get in the way of us doing the right thing. There might be people who try to keep us from doing the right thing, but we have to keep doing what we know is right.
Ask students, Are you allowed to believe in Jesus?
What if it was against the law to believe in Jesus? Would you still believe in Him?
(Read Acts 12:1-2.)
“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.”
Why did King Herod have James killed? (Because James believed in Jesus, and the King did not.)
(Read Acts 12:3-4.)
“When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.”
Why did King Herod have Peter put in jail? (Because Peter believed in Jesus.)
(Read Acts 12:5-10.)
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
“The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up!’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
“Then the angel said to him, ‘Put on your clothes and sandals.’ And Peter did so. ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,’ the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.”
How did Peter get out of jail? (An angel came and helped him.)
Who sent the angel to help Peter? (God.)
Do you think God can help you when you have hard times? (Yes.)
God might not always send an angel to help you, but He will do something to help you.
It also said that when Peter was put into prison, the church was praying for Him. God likes it when we pray for other people, and our prayers can help them.
Game: Raising the Dice
Divide students into two teams and give each time a six-sided die. The first student from each team runs up to a table and rolls their dice. The student with the highest roll gets a point for their team.
The trick is that each team can help their player. As the students are rolling their die, the teams cheer. The team that’s the loudest gets to add one number to their player’s die roll. So, if Team A’s player rolls a 3, but their team is cheering the loudest, you’ll count that player’s roll as a 4.
Students re-roll in case of a tie, but only if the tie occurs after you add the cheering bonus.
After the first two students roll and you determine who gets the point, those students run back to their teams, hand off their die, and the next students run up. The team with the most points after everyone has rolled wins.
Explain that when we pray for someone, it’s like we’re cheering for them. We’re asking God to help them, just like the church prayed for Peter. Our prayers for someone else can help God decide to help that person.
Prayer Activity: Praying for Others
Have students spread out around the room and pray silently. Direct them to pray for their family members. A minute later, direct them to pray for their friends. The next minute, ask them to pray for anyone they know of who might be having a problem. Finally, a minute later, tell them to pray for people around the world who might be in jail or being persecuted right now because they believe in Jesus.
Read Acts 12:11-15.
“Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.’
“When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’
“‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, ‘It must be his angel.’”
When Peter knocked on the door of the house, did the people think it was really him? (No.)
They thought it was Peter’s ghost, his spirit. They thought he had died in jail and that they were seeing his ghost, but it really was him.
(Read Acts 12:16-24.)
“But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. ‘Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,’ he said, and then he left for another place.
“In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.
“Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply.
“On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
“But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.”
What happened to the King who had Peter arrested? (God sent an angel to kill him because he let other people say that he was a god instead of telling people to believe in the real God.)
Game: Prison Tag
Pick someone to be King Herod. They are “It.” Pick another person to be the angel. Everyone else is Peter. When Herod tags someone, they have to freeze, like Peter being in jail. But the Angel can come to tag the person and unfreeze them, like the angel setting Peter free. Herod cannot tag the Angel. Let everyone have a chance at being Herod and the Angel.
Father God, we thank You for sending Your angel to bring Peter out of prison and just like the church prayed for Peter, we ask that You’ll help us to pray for other people. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Rock.