Week 4 objective: to learn that ‘effective’ means that something turns out the way we hoped and planned. When we ask God for the things he wants to give us we can trust that our prayers will be answered in the way we hope.
Game - 7 mins
Aim: to play a game that involves trying to hit a target.
You will need: a hula-hoop, a blanket, masking tape and a ball.
Before the session, set up a target in your teaching space: place the blanket in the middle of your room, the hula-hoop in the centre of the blanket and mark-out a large square around the outside of the blanket.
Ask for a volunteer. Explain to the volunteer that they need to stand about three steps away from the masking tape. From this start position the children need to try and throw the ball into the hula-hoop. Allow each child three attempts. You could score the children’s throws i.e. 25 points if the ball lands between the masking tape and the blanket, 50 points if the ball lands on the blanket and 100 points if the ball lands within the hoop.
Talk about - 6 mins
You will need: a large sheet of paper or a whiteboard, Bibles and marker pens.
Write the verse on the sheet of paper or whiteboard.
Read the verse aloud and explain that this verse has helped us learn more about prayer. Quickly underline the reference. Remind the children that this verse can be found in the New Testament part of the Bible, in the letter written by James. Explain that James’ letter is about how to live as a Christian.
Underline the word ‘prayer’. Remind the children that talking with God is called ‘prayer’. Explain that Christians believe people can talk with God anytime and anywhere. Talk briefly about the different ways people pray: people say prayers, whisper prayers, sing prayers, shout prayers or even say ‘thought prayers’ in their heads.
Quickly show the children a teaspoon and write the letters ‘t’, ‘s’, ‘p’ next to the verse. Briefly remind the children that sometimes people write ‘tsp’ instead of teaspoon in a recipe. Quickly write ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘please’ next to the verse and circle the first letter of each word. Explain that a teaspoon is a good way to remember that, because of who God is and what he is like, people often say ‘Thank you’, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Please’ when they are talking with him.
Underline the word ‘righteous’. Explain that the Bible tells us that when a person becomes a Christian and says ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness everything is put right between them and God – they are made righteous.
However the Bible teaches that it takes time for a Christian to learn and grow to live God’s way. Quickly draw a stick person next to the verse. In fact the Bible teaches that there is only one person who always lived God's way - that person is Jesus. When Jesus lived on earth he never did anything wrong; he always lived in a way that pleased God. Jesus always loved God and others. Draw two hearts next to the stick person. The Bible teaches that Jesus showed people the perfect way to live. Draw a second stick person next to the first.Today instead of trying hard to follow God's rules, Christians long to be like Jesus; to think, feel and live like him. Christians understand that by learning and growing to be like Jesus they will learn and grow to live God's way.
However Christians also believe they cannot make themselves like Jesus, only the Holy Spirit can make them more loving, more peaceful and more patient, like him. Draw a wiggly arrow pointing to the second stick person. The Bible teaches that it is only with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit that Christians can learn and grow to be more and more like Jesus and learn and grow to live God’s way, the way he created people to live. Draw a second arrow pointing from the second stick person to the first.
If you have time talk about how Christians believe they can invite the Holy Spirit to do more and more work in their lives. The Bible teaches that as a Christian spends time with God – praying, reading their Bible, worshipping, serving others, meeting together and giving, the Holy Spirit is able to do more and more work in their lives; more and more he is able to change them from the inside-out to be like Jesus. Repeatedly draw over the arrows pointing to the stick people making the arrows bolder and more prominent as you talk about the work of the Holy Spirit.
Underline the phrase ‘powerful and effective’. Explain that powerful means – something that is difficult to stop. Effective means – that something turns out the way we hoped and planned. Talk to the children about the game they have just played. Explain that when they let go of the ball they really hoped that it would land in the hoop. Ask the children what they did to try and get the ball to land in the centre. Explain that throwing the ball slowly and thinking about how to throw it meant that the throw was more effective and the ball landed where they hoped it would.
Explain that when we pray and ask God for something, we really hope he will do what we have asked. We hope our prayers will be effective. Ask the children if they think there is anything they can do to help their prayers be answered in the way they hope.
Explain that James says that the prayer of a righteous person is effective. Another way of saying this is the prayers of somebody who is learning and growing to be like Jesus, will be answered in the way they hoped. That’s not because God only wants to do things for people that live his way; it’s because a person who is learning and growing to be more like Jesus, will be spending time with God. They will be inviting the Holy Spirit to work in their lives, reading the Bible, praying, worshipping and asking God for his forgiveness and guidance. Christians believe that as a person gets to know God better they begin to know more and more what is good and right and what pleases him. They begin to want the same things God wants and ask for things he wants to give them. Explain that the Bible teaches that trusting God is an important part of our friendship with him. When we ask God for things he wants to give us we can trust that our prayers will be answered in the way that we hope.
With older children you might like to dig deeper (see Printables) into the topic of prayer. Spend some talking about why our prayers don’t always seem to be answered.
As this is the last week, cover up the Bible verse and ask the children if anyone can say it from memory. Help the children if they get stuck. If you have rubber stampers and tickets stamp the tickets belonging to children who can say the Bible verse. Include those who needed some help.
Song - 2 mins
To the tune ‘Yankie Doodle went to town’
Powerful and effective are,
The prayers of righteous people,
Powerful and effective are,
The prayers of righteous people.