When One Teaches, Two Learn

Figuring out children's ministry one day at a time

Investigation: Prayer – Who Should Pray?

This past week we continued in our “Investigation: Prayer” unit, answering the question, “Who should pray?”  This is the second question we’ll be answering about prayer, based off of a series of lessons published on the Assemblies of God Prayer and Spiritual Care page.   We had a blast with this lesson and I hope you do too!

Goal:  Today we will learn that God will speak and listen to children.

Key Scripture: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” – 1 John 5:14

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Shoes
  • Rice
  • Glass jar
  • Sandpaper
  • Poster with key Scripture printed on it
  • Balloons
  • Plastic cups
  • Styrofoam balls
  • Foil
  • Stickers
  • World Map
  • Picture of a missionary your church supports & a recent prayer letter
  • Pillows
  • Blankets

Introduction:  Gather the children around in a circle.  Have each of them close their eyes and listen while you make the following noises, trying to guess the source of each after each sound is made.

  • Shoes tapping on the table
  • Shaking rice in a glass jar
  • Rubbing sandpaper together

Ask: What sounds do you hear at night when you are in your bed? Today we’re going to hear about a boy who heard something very unusual when he was in his bed.

Lesson:  Present the following story:  Samuel was a young boy who lived in the temple, serving with the priest, named Eli.  One night, Samuel yawned a big yawn and stretched his arms. It was bedtime and Samuel felt very sleepy. After he got himself ready for bed, he lay down and closed his eyes. Then something strange happened! Just as Samuel was going to sleep, he heard someone call, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel sat straight up in his bed! ”Eli must be calling me,” he said. Samuel jumped out of his bed. He ran to where Eli slept. ”Here I am. You called me?” Samuel asked. Eli looked surprised. ”I did not call you,” Eli said. ”Go back to bed, Samuel.”

Samuel went to his bed and lay down. Everything was quiet again. ”Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel heard the voice again. Samuel ran to Eli. ”Here I am. You called me?” Samuel asked. ”No,” Eli said. ”I did not call you. Now go back to bed.” So Samuel went back to his bed and lay down.

A third time Samuel heard the voice. ”Samuel! Samuel!” And once again he ran to Eli. ”Here I am. You called me?” Samuel asked. Then Eli knew God was calling Samuel. ”When you hear the voice again,” Eli told Samuel, say, “‘Speak to me, God. I am listening.’ ” Samuel went back to his bed and lay down.

Soon Samuel heard the voice again, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel said, “Speak to me, God.  I am listening.” Then something wonderful happened. God spoke to Samuel. God told Samuel how to obey Him. And Samuel listened carefully to all God told him. Samuel was glad he obeyed Eli.

Explain that God will speak and listen to everyone, even children like Samuel.  This means that everyone should pray.

Game:  Play “Eli Says” (essentially “Simon Says”) with the kids.  Explain that Eli helped Samuel to understand that God was speaking to Him.  Tell the children that they will have to listen closely to your instructions, just as Samuel had to listen closely to Eli’s directions.

Bible Verse Memory:  Ahead of time, write out the words/phrases of the memory verse on balloons (Divide the verse into chunks and have each chunk written on a specific color of balloon to help the non-readers to participate as well).

Scatter these balloons across the room and, after reading the verse aloud from the poster, have the children group the balloons according to color.  Next, put the words in the correct order.  Practice saying the verse aloud once the children have completed this task.   Then, have the children stand in a circle and try to bat the balloons in the air and keep them in the air as they recite the verse together.  If the children have trouble with this, work with one colored section at a time and build up to the entire verse.  This was BY FAR one of the kids’ favorite activities!

Balloon Memory

Story Reenactment:  Arrange two “beds” on the floor with a pillow and blanket for each.  Select one child to play Samuel, another to play Eli, and a third to be the voice of God.  Retell the story while the children act out their individual parts and fill in their lines as appropriate.  We videoed our reenactment and it was absolutely hysterical!  You won’t regret taking the time to film it!

Prayer Microphones:  Give each child a plastic cup, a Styrofoam ball, and a piece of foil.  Cover the Styrofoam ball with foil.  Then, make a hole in the base of the cup and push a pipe cleaner through it and secure.  This makes the microphone ‘lead’.  Push the foil covered ball into the top of the cup, where is should become lodged. Decorate the cup with stickers. (Source)

Prayer Microphone

Once the children are finished, encourage each of them to offer a sentence or two in prayer, while talking into their “microphone.”  Remind the children that God listens and speaks to everyone, even children.

Missionary Prayer:  During the Investigation: Prayer unit, we will be introducing one of the missionaries we support each week.  I have a world map hanging up in the room and posted a picture of our second missionary couple.  Then we were able to read a letter from the couple as well.   

If time remains, you can prompt the children with prayers they can offer into their prayer microphones (i.e. What is something you are thankful for? Do you know someone who is sick who we can ask God to heal?)

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Investigation: Prayer – What Is Prayer?

Our church has been going through a season of renewal and growth after a very difficult season.  They used to have a Wednesday evening AWANA program that fizzled out a few years ago.  They refocused their Wednesday evening priorities onto prayer meeting and now actually have about 70 people coming out to prayer meeting each week!  It really is amazing to see. 

My personal philosophy is that whenever there is something planned for adults at the church, there should also be something for the kids – and preferably something meaningful rather than just babysitting.  So, rather than occupy another evening each week for our families, I developed a “Power Up Prayer for Kids” program to run concurrently with our prayer service.  The idea is to take the time to teach kids creative ways to pray, learn more about prayer, and also take time to pray for the missionaries that our church supports.  

We’re starting off with a unit on the basics of prayer, entitled “Investigation: Prayer.”  We’ll be answering key questions about prayer, based off of a series of lessons published by the Assemblies of God Prayer and Spiritual Care page.  

Goal:  Today we will learn that prayer is our way of communicating with God.

Key Scripture:  “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” – 1 John 5:14

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Phone (or a picture of one)
  • Pen & Paper (or a picture of one)
  • Computer (or a picture of one)
  • Bible
  • Digital camera
  • Poster with key Scripture printed on it
  • Legos with one word of the key Scripture printed on each
  • World Map
  • Picture of a missionary your church supports & a recent prayer letter
  • String
  • Plastic cups

Introduction:  Place the following items in front of you: a phone, a pen and paper, and a computer (or pictures of these items).  Ask the children what these things have in common.  Guide the conversation to the understanding that all items can be used to communicate with someone.  Allow the children the opportunity to share other ways to communicate.

Ask: How we can communicate with God?  Guide the conversation to the topic of prayer.

Ask: Can we see God?  If we cannot see God, how do we know He is listening to us when we pray? 

Use the following illustration to generate discussion:  Have a child briefly tell you about something they did yesterday.  Listen actively, nodding, smiling, or commenting as appropriate.

After this brief conversation, ask: How did you know I was listening to [insert student’s name]’s story?  (nodding, smiling, commenting, looking at the person, etc.)  Explain that your actions demonstrate that you were listening.     

Lesson:  Explain that when God created humans He made us different from animals in two special ways.  Have a volunteer read Genesis 1:26-27 aloud.   Ask: After hearing these two verses, what is one thing that God did to make us different from animals?  Guide the discussion to the topic of being made in God’s image.

Ask: What is an “image”?  To illustrate, take a picture of one of the children with a digital camera.  Show the picture to the group.  Explain that the image is not actually the person, but it is a representation of who the person is and what they are like.  Tell the children that this is what these verses mean when they say we are made in the image of God.  We are not God, but we have been created to be like Him.  (Source).        

Have a volunteer read Genesis 2:7 aloud.  Ask: After hearing this verse, what is another way that God made us different from animals?  Guide the discussion to the idea that God breathed the breath of life into us.  Ask: What do you think it means to have God “breathe the breath of life” into us?  Explain that this is another way that God made us like him.  When He breathed the breath of life into us, He gave us a spirit that connects us in a special way to God.  Our spirit senses His presence and “hears” His voice, even though we don’t always hear a sound (Here would be an appropriate time to give an example of a time where we might sense God’s presence – i.e. feeling better after praying with Mom or Dad after having a scary dream).

Explain that not only can God hear our voice, but we can hear His too.  It just takes practice and staying close to God.  To illustrate, pull the cell phone out again.  Ask: What happens if you are talking on a cell phone and you move too far from the place that sends out the signals?

Explain that just as it gets more difficult to hear on a cell phone, the further from the signal you travel, so it also gets more difficult to hear God’s voice when we are far away from Him.  Ask:  What are some things that we do that move us further away from God?  What are some things that we can do to move closer to God?  After giving one or two examples, play the following game.

Game:  Have the children stand in the middle of the room.  Explain that you will call off examples of things we might do that could move us closer to God or further away from Him.  If they think the listed example would move us closer to God, they should move one side of the room to the other (i.e. If you say, “Read my Bible,” the children should move to the side of the room designated as “Draw closer to God” rather than the “Move away from God” side).

Use the following examples

  • Giving a friend a hug when he or she is crying
  • Disobeying my parents
  • Coming to church
  • Stealing
  • Telling a lie
  • Reading my Bible
  • Yelling at my brother or sister
  • Bringing a meal to someone who doesn’t have enough food
  • Shoving someone I don’t like
  • Sharing with my friends

Bible Verse Memory:  Gather the children back together.  Point to the poster with the key Scripture printed on it.  Read the verse aloud, first yourself, then with everyone reading together.  Reiterate the point that when we pray God hears us!

Show the children the Legos with words from the key Scripture printed on them.  Work together to “build” the verse.

Lego Verse Building

Game:  Gather the children in a circle on the floor.  Explain that each of them will have a chance to record a message using an audio app, then we will replay the recordings to see if we can guess whose voice we had just heard.  The message we’ll all say is, “God knows my voice when I talk to Him.”

Record each child’s voice.  Ask the children to find a new place in the circle, then replay the recordings and have the children try to guess who’s talking.  Explain that even if it can be difficult for us to know whose voice is whose, God always hears and knows our voice. (Source)

Play-Doh Prayers:  Give each child some Play-Doh.  Have each child mold the Play-Doh into something they are thankful God has given to them.  As the children work, talk about how just as we are carefully creating, so God has carefully created us in His image.  After the children have finished their mini sculptures, have each child say aloud, “Thank you, God, for _____________.”

Missionary Prayer:  During the Investigation: Prayer unit, we will be introducing one of the missionaries we support each week.  I have a world map hanging up in the room and posted a picture of this first missionary couple.  We were fortunate that we were able to get in touch with the couple ahead of time and they actually wrote a letter to our kids to introduce themselves!  It never hurts to ask!

Craft:  Give each child a length of string (approx. two feet long) and two plastic cups.  Using a thumbtack, help each child to punch a hole in the bottom of each cup. Pass the string through the hole in the bottom of one of the cups and tie a knot.  The knot should rest inside the cup.  Repeat with the other cup. In pairs, have the children practice talking through their “telephones.”  Use this time to review the two reasons we know that God hears us when we pray (1. We are made in His image. 2. He gave us a spirit when He breathed the breath of life into us.).  Listen to the children as they reiterate these reasons to ensure that they’ve caught the key point. (This works best when the string is tight, but caution children not to pull too hard on their string.)

Conclusion:  Gather the children back together from their telephone activity.  Review again the two reasons we know that God hears us when we pray (1. We are made in His image. 2. He gave us a spirit when He breathed the breath of life into us.).  Encourage the children to try praying out loud to God during the week, even if it’s just a sentence or two, and thank Him that He hears us.  Close the time in prayer.

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