BIG IDEA: GOD ANSWERS PRAYER
AIM: The aim of the ‘God Answers Prayer’ Childrens Lesson on Lazarus (John 11:1-44) is to help the children understand that sometimes God will not give us the answer in prayer that we want – and thats okay! We simply need to remember that He is working for our good.
- Roll Up Lazarus. (regular/widescreen) Children get into teams and must wrap one of their team members up in toilet roll as fast as they can. The best wrapped Lazarus is the winning team.
- Watch Out, Lazarus. (regular/widescreen) Children wrap up a leader or child in toilet roll and must then guide them around an obstacle course, dodging cones and chairs and soft balls that other teams are throwing at them. The first team’s Lazarus to reach the end is the winning team!
- Bowling Lazarus. (regular/widescreen) Wrap up some old plastic bottles with white cloth and then add some googly eyes, or make your own. Children take turns throwing a ball at the bottles and knocking them down. You could also play this game as a team game if you make a number of bottles.
- Unwrap Lazarus.(regular/widescreen) Wrap a number of leaders up in long pieces of cloth. Time the children to see how fast they can unravel Lazarus. The quickest child or team is the winner/winning team.
BIG VERSE: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6.
SET the Scene:
Read John 11:1-44.
- ‘Raising Lazarus’ for 4-7 year olds by BibleTubeKids
- ‘Biblemations John 11’ by Keys for Kids Ministries
- ‘Lazarus Dies and Jesus Brings Him Back to Life’ by LCKids
- ‘The Death and Resurrection of Lazarus’ by Max7
- ‘Lazarus, Come Out!’ by GraceLink
SPOT the Simple Meaning:
1) GOD ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS
You will need different examples of methods of communication (by pigeon, email, brail, letters etc)
Say: When we put Jesus first in our lives we can know that our prayers are answered. God is always with us and He answers our prayers. Our prayers are messages to God. I have some types of messages here too, can you think of any that I might have? [Get feedback and show any pictures or items that you have] Sometimes our messages are questions – things that we want to ask God for. Have you ever asked God for something? [Get feedback] What have you asked God for? [Get feedback]
In our bible passage today Mary and Martha told Jesus that their brother was sick. They must have been worried about him and wondering what would happen to him. Jesus was not with them so they had to send a messenger to him.
John 11:3 says,
‘So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”’
Mary and Martha didn’t need to pray, although they may have prayed to God, this was a time when Gods Son – Jesus – was walking the earth, so they sent for Jesus. They must have wanted him to come and help. Jesus did answer.
So, Is there a time God doesn’t answer our prayers?
Mary and Martha followed Jesus and loved him. Sometimes when we have sin in our lives God cannot hear our prayers. When we do wrong things it separates us from God, so it is important that we make sure that we have said sorry and asked for God’s forgiveness for anything wrong we have done before we ask Him for anything. Psalm 66 and Isaiah 5 says that God can’t hear us when we pray if we are doing wrong. So we must make sure that when we pray we have put things right with God first.
We can expect that when we have put things right with God and we pray, God will give us an answer. God answers our prayers. Sometimes it might be difficult to understand what the answer is… so let’s think about what this might all mean.
2) SOMETIMES HIS ANSWER ISN’T THE ONE WE WANT!
Play the Yes and No Game. Children must try and answer a series of questions without answering yes or no.
Say: It isn’t easy to answer questions without saying yes or no, is it? Sometimes we might ask God a question in our prayers. Perhaps we need help with our homework or we want him to help or heal someone. Just like we have lots of different answers to questions, God has different answers also.
Jesus didn’t give the answer to Mary and Martha that they wanted or expected. They wanted Jesus to come straight away and heal their brother so that he didn’t have to die. Yet Lazarus died. Sometimes when we pray God doesn’t give us the answer we want. Sometimes people get healed and sometimes they don’t. We might not understand why and it is okay to feel sad and upset. Mary and Martha cried when their brother died. They didn’t understand why Jesus didn’t come straight away – he waited two days!
God has different answers to our prayers. Sometimes He might ask us to wait. At other times He may even say no. Sometimes God’s answer is not the one we want. Mary and Martha knew this yet they still believed that Jesus could do anything. They still trusted in Him, even when they didn’t get the answer they wanted.
3) GOD’S ANSWER IS ALWAYS FOR OUR GOOD
- You will need the Prayers clip from Bruce Almighty where Bruce is given the task of answering all the prayers of his little town… 1000’s of prayers!
- If you don’t have access to the Bruce Almighty clip you could have a leader stand with you and simply ask you a series of questions. The only answer you can answer is yes. The questions must all be about whether the leader can do or have things. Try to come up with some creative questions that are funny and personal to your group (not too personal though!)
Say: Imagine if every question you ever asked was answered with the word ‘yes’. Do you think life would be fun? [Get feedback] You know, I’m not so sure it would be fun. If we always got everything we would never need God’s help – or anybody else’s help. We might even end up being very spoilt and forgetting to say thank you. Life would be boring because we would never have to work for anything!
When the answer is always ‘yes’ then the person we are asking doesn’t even need to think about their answer. In the movie clip [or as you watched the leaders talk] Bruce [or use the name of the leader] never had to think about his answer. In the end he couldn’t be bothered, so the easy way was to say ‘yes’ to everything. He didn’t care what that would mean for the person that was asking.
The Difficult Answer:
Jesus gave a difficult answer to Mary and Martha. It wasn’t easy seeing them upset. Yet Jesus loved Mary and Martha. Jesus even cried with them when he saw Mary crying (John 11:35). Jesus knew that the answer he gave was a good answer because he was going to do a miracle. He would bring Lazarus back to life. He had known what he would do all along.
Now, not every answer from God will mean that we get what we want in the end. But we can trust that God is a good God and He will bring something good out of a bad situation if we trust Him. God answers our prayers in the best way possible because He is good. All we need to do is have faith in Him. Don’t stop having faith because He doesn’t answer your prayers the way you want Him to. Just remember: God’s answer is always for our good.
SEARCH The Scriptures:
Make sure you have a bible for every child. You will want to help them find each scripture and chat through what they mean. Sometimes in the bible people prayed and God didn’t answer them as they expected Him to.
Job: (Job 40-41) When all of Job’s posesssions and even his health and family members are taken away there is a long silence from God. When He finally answers it is not the answer Job expects. God surprises us all when He reminds Job of how great He is and that His ways of doing things are much better than ours.
Jesus: (Luke 22:39-44) Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew what his job was, yet he knew it was going to be difficult. He prayed for God’s will to come about, but if there was any way that he might escape going through so much pain and dying, that he be freed from going ahead. The answer was that Jesus was to die. Yet he would also rise again 3 days later. This was for our good – that we might know God and be friends with Him forever!
Paul: In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul pleads with God to take away a problem that was causing him pain. After three times praying God did not give Paul the answer he wanted. He did not take away the problem but told Paul that His grace would help Paul get through this pain.
Make a list of all the things you want in life. Then discuss what it would be like if you were given all these things without any work. Remember that some things are more sensitive to discuss than others. Pray with or for those that have real needs and trust that God is a God who faithfully answers our prayers in the best way.
- Has God ever given you an answer you did not want or expect?
- How did God’s answer make you feel?
- Do you trust God when His answer is not the one you want? How?
- How can you help other people that might be sad or angry at God for not giving them what they want?
SENSE How You Feel:
How would Mary and Martha have felt when Jesus didn’t show up and Lazarus died?
How would Mary and Martha have felt when Jesus brought Lazarus back to life?
- Make a Lazarus cup. Add googly eyes to a cup and then cut off some cloth and wrap it around the cup, taping it down.
- Create a Lazarus roll. Add some googly eyes to your toilet roll or cardboard tube, then wrap it in cloth and glue or tape it down.
Say: It’s okay if we get an answer from God that we don’t like. We may feel sad or disappointed and that’s okay. It’s okay to tell God how we feel. David always told God how he felt when he wrote songs or prayers. We can find his songs and prayers in the book of Psalms. Yet we want to be people that remember how good our God is. He wants the best for you… even when it is difficult!
Asking Jesus into our lives:
Encourage the children to know that when Jesus is number one in their lives and they have put their wrongs right with Him, God answers their prayers. Ask any of the children if they know that they need God to forgive them for the wrong things they have done. Ask them if they would like to invite Him into their lives. Lead the children in a simple prayer: Lord Jesus please come into my life and make me new. I believe that you died and rose again for me. Please forgive me for the wrong things I have done and help me to live more like You. Amen.
You will need some stones and a box labelled ‘I Trust You God’.
Gather stones and have the children hold onto a stone and think of a time when they didn’t understand what God was doing. Perhaps it was a time they felt God didn’t answer their prayers the way they wanted. Give the children time to pray and ask God help them to trust Him even when it is difficult to understand what is going on. When they feel they can let go of the stone and have decided to trust God, encourage them to let it go and place it in a box that says ‘I Trust You God’.
You will need a giant roll of paper. Tape up a giant wall of paper onto the wall and encourage the children to write down their prayers. It could be prayers to ask for help, or prayers of thanks that God knows what He is doing and that they can trust Him.