Prayer is an important and essential part of our lives as Christians. But sometimes adults and kids alike miss out on this precious tool because we think somehow we have to have just the right words, environment, or circumstances to pray. We put it off or forget altogether that we have constant and direct access to the Almighty, the creator and controller of all things. This lesson is a reminder that we can always talk to God, and He wants to hear from us!
Lesson focus: We can and should pray anytime, anywhere, about anything.
Passage: James 5:13-20; 1 Samuel 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Matthew 7:7-8; Revelation 3:20
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Empty oatmeal or coffee cans, papers in varying colors, markers, boxes, tape
Lesson Opening: Can you hear me know? Begin with a round of “telephone.” Have students sit in a circle and come up with a word or phrase to pass around from whispered ear to ear. Note any changes from the original message. Discuss with students how this is an example of communication. What is communication? Emphasize how conversations go two ways. We have to speak and listen carefully. When we are talking to people, messages can sometimes get mixed up or misheard (as in the game). But guess what? We know someone who will always listen and hear us correctly…GOD! When we pray, God promises He will always listen and hear. We can talk to God any time, anywhere, and we can listen for Him, too.
Start the lesson with an opening prayer, and then ask children to brainstorm what they know about prayer. When do we pray? How do we pray? What do we pray for? Does God hear us? How do we know? Even if we talk about it and refer to it regularly, prayer can sometimes be a confusing topic, or one that we take for granted. Explain to students that the Bible has a lot to say about prayer. Read (or have older students look up and read) an example passage from James:
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. -James 5:13-16
The answer to most of our troubles, according to this, would seem to be prayer. It is worth noting, though, that there are times God does not answer in ways we might wish or expect. He always hears and He always answers. But sometimes He says no to our requests, or perhaps “wait”. We are to persist in asking, though:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. -Matthew 7:7-8
The knocking goes both ways, though…sometimes God calls to us, and it is important that we pay attention and listen!
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20
It is also critical that as God’s people we realize we are to not just talk to God, but communicate with Him by listening. Consider the story of the young prophet Samuel:
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” -Samuel 3:10
In the Bible, we see people who hear from God in apparently loud voices. It must be exciting to hear from God like that…but we don’t always have that experience. Sometimes we can feel God near to us or sense His presence, but not always. Many times we might pray and not seem to hear anything at all. But we can still pay attention to God by living in His presence. What does that mean? Think about how your actions and attitudes might change if a teacher or parent walked into the room. Think about how happy you are if a friend enters the room. Well, God is always with us– all the time, everywhere. We can go on top of a big mountain or in the middle of the ocean or in our beds and He will always be with us. When we pray, we don’t have to have special words or actions or ways that we talk to Him. We can tell Him things we need or just tell Him about the day. God will always listen and He will always care. Even though we don’t quite hear Him, we can be quiet and rest in the knowledge that He is right by our side. When we pray, we talk with God, and we can live constantly holding His hand in His presence.
Prayer box…this activity can be done as a group and kept in a classroom, or can be done individually for students to take home. Decorate an oatmeal can or a small box, using paper, stickers, and other materials to enhance the project. On cut strips of paper, list prayer requests and praises. Put them in the box/can and pull out one or two at a time to think about and pray over regularly. Additionally, you might want to make a special doorknob hanger or a poster to remind yourself of God’s ever-present power.
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Ask for trust and faith in His goodness and for love and understanding. Thank God for opportunities to share His love with others and take care of them.