Use this children’s Sunday School lesson about Jesus healing the official’s son to teach kids about prayer.
Needed: Bibles, various objects and a snack
Intro Game #1: Manipulating God? part 1
Have the students sit in a circle and throw one of their shoes in the middle of the circle. Choose one student to be It. They pick a shoe and tell the owner to do something to get their shoe back. They can choose a simple task or something silly – anything appropriate for your play area. When the student completes the task, they get their shoe back and then, become It for the next student.
Intro Game #2: No!
Have the students line up single file behind a line in your play area. Between them and you is an area where they will play tag. You will stand or sit at the other side of the play area with a variety of objects in front of you. One of the objects could be a sample of a snack you’re going to give the kids at the end of the game. Choose one of the objects to be the key object for each round. One leader or volunteer student will be “It” in the middle of the play area.
The first student will run up to you and ask you for one of the objects in front of you. If it’s the key object you chose, they win the game. If it isn’t, say “No!” That student then remains in the center play area. They then have to run from It. If they get tagged, they go to the back of the line.
The next student runs up to you as soon as the previous one receives their answer.
Let the snack be the last correct answer. When a student asks for it, end the game and pass out the snacks.
As the students are eating, start the lesson.
Ask students, How many of you ever pray?
What kinds of things do you pray for?
Does God answer your prayers?
God answers our prayers in a lot of different ways. Sometimes, He says “Yes,” and gives us what we want. Sometimes, He tells us “Not yet,” and that means we have to wait. Sometimes, God tells us “No.” That doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us. It simply means that He’s not going to give us that thing that we asked for or do what we wanted Him to do.
Today, we’re going to read about a man who asked Jesus for help, and Jesus said “Yes.”
(Read John 4:46-47.)
“Once more He visited Cana in Galilee, where He had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.”
What did the man want Jesus to do? (He wanted Jesus to heal his son.)
(Read John 4:48.)
“’Unless you people see signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.’”
Jesus said that people won’t believe unless they see miracles. Do you think people should believe in God and Jesus only if they see God or Jesus do a miracle?
God does do miracles sometimes and sometimes, those miracles are the things God does to answer our prayers, but God wants us to believe in Him even if He doesn’t do miracles, and even if He doesn’t always do what we pray for Him to do.
(Read John 4:49-53.)
“The royal official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’
“’Go,’ Jesus replied, ‘your son will live.’
“The man took Jesus at His word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, ‘Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.’
“Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he and his whole household believed.”
Did Jesus go with the man to heal his son? (No.)
But did He heal the man’s son? (Yes.)
How could Jesus heal the man’s son if He didn’t go with him?
Jesus is so powerful that He could heal the man’s son without ever seeing him. He was miles away, and He could still heal him.
Where is Jesus now? (In Heaven with God.)
So, when we pray, Jesus is far away from us too, isn’t He? He’s all the way up in Heaven. But do you think Jesus can still help us even if He’s all way in Heaven?
Jesus healed the man’s son without having to go to him. That’s how Jesus works with us. When we pray to Him, He doesn’t come down to us. He answers our prayers from Heaven, just as He healed the man’s son from where He was. He didn’t have to go see the son. Jesus can answer our prayers from where He is in Heaven.
Remember that Jesus doesn’t always give us what we want when we pray though. But even if God and Jesus don’t give us what we want, or do what we prayed for them to do, we have to keep believing. We have to trust that God still loves us even if He doesn’t say “Yes” to our prayer.
Game: Manipulating God? part 2
Tell students that you’re going to play the intro game again, but that you’re going to be It the whole time and that you’re not going to tell them what they have to do to get their shoe back. They have to make something up, and then, you’ll decide to give their shoe back or not.
Randomly give some kids’ shoe back and refuse to give others’ back. When you refuse, put the shoe back in the pile and choose another.
When every student has had a chance to get their shoe back, ask, Why did I choose to give some of your shoes back but kept the others?
I was showing you that even though you were doing things, you couldn’t make me give your shoe back. I could decide to give your shoe back or not based on whether I wanted to give it back or not.
In the same way, we can’t make God do something. We can pray and ask God to do things, but He doesn’t have to do them. Nothing we do can make God do anything. We can’t control God. God is in control.
Now, I choose to give the rest of you back your shoes.
Jesus, thank You for answering some of our prayers from Heaven. Help us to understand that You don’t answer all of our prayers but that You still love us. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Starts His Work.