BIG IDEA: WE CAN RESPOND AND PREPARE IN PRAYER
1. ‘Nehemiah’ by The Fabulous Bentley Brothers
2. ‘You are Good’ by Shout Praises Kids
1. Injured Soldiers. Children split up into teams and allocate two players as their injured soldiers. The injured soldiers lie at the end of the room. Soldiers start from the other end at their home base and race to get toilet roll to wrap their soldiers and carry (depending on age) or help them limp back to their home base. One injured soldier at a time. The winning team is the team to see both of their injured soldiers to safety.
2. Flour Candy. Fill a bowl with flour and turn it upside down to make a neat flour mound. Place a candy on the top of your mound of flour. Children should use a blunt knife to take turns at cutting away the flour until the candy remains. When the candy falls down the player to make it fall must retrieve the candy with their mouth. Be careful with this game with small children: only use with older children and make sure you have plenty of water to hand.
3. Poop the Potato. Children split into teams and have a bucket on each side of the room for their team. Each player takes a potato from the first bucket, places it between their legs and waddles over to the second bucket. they must ‘poop’ the potato and run back to tag the next player who does the same. The first team to empty their first bucket of potatoes and fill the second bucket is the winning team.
BIG VERSE: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12.
SET the Scene:
Read Nehemiah 1. Nehemiah is a cupbearer to the king. One day he is told that his people are in danger because the walls that were protecting their city, Jerusalem, are in ruins. Nehemiah knew that if something wasn’t done then their enemies would be able to attack at any time. He prays before going to speak with the king.
1. Nehemiah Heard News of Jerusalem A detailed account of the story of Nehemiah.
2. Nehemiah and the Wall An animated look at the book of Nehemiah from Nehemiah’s point of view.
3. Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem A lego version of the account of Nehemiah.
SPOT the Simple Meaning:
1) OBJECT LESSON: HOW DO YOU REACT?
You will need accessibility to a funny reaction video such as the Charlie Bit My Finger video.
Say: Nehemiah’s family were in danger because the walls of Jerusalem were built to protect the people inside the city. But the walls had been destroyed, meaning that anyone could come in and attack the people at any time. These were Nehemiah’s friends and family. He must have been devastated to know that they could be hurt at any time.
[Play reaction video here]
Say: Did you see how that person reacted to the situation in that video?! It was so funny! Well, they didn’t get much time to choose their reaction did they?! When Nehemiah is given the word that his family and friends are in distress he doesn’t have much time to choose his reaction either. What will he do? Will he blame his people, their enemies or God? Will he moan or complain? Will he get mad and angry at the bearer of the bad news?
Nehemiah’s reaction might surprise us, surely when you get bad news like that you should have some kind of angry outburst? Yet the Bible says that Nehemiah simply sat down and cried. His reaction was an emotional one, yet it was one that led him to pray. He prayed for and fasted. Instead of turning all his emotion and directing it to one person or people group he gave it over to God. He told God how he was feeling and showed his passion and strong desire to see change by not eating so that he could focus solely on praying. Nehemiah knew how to react to bad news well. Why? Because he knew how to pray. He knew that prayer was the best reaction to anything. He knew that in praying he was asking God to move and he was expecting that he would. Maybe Nehemiah was used to reacting in this way because he had chosen to pray frequently in the past, either way Nehemiah chose to react with prayer.
How do you react when you get bad news? Who do you pour out your feelings to?
2) OBJECT LESSON: PREPARE IN PRAYER
You will need a Powerpoint with the scenarios to provide a visual for the children and so that everyone in the room can see them.
Say: If you were Nehemiah and someone told you your family was in danger what would you do first? Run to them as fast as you can? Try to defend anyone that came near them? Nehemiah prayed before he did anything else. Some people think that Nehemiah was fasting (not eating) an praying for four months! Wow! Nehemiah truly knew he couldn’t do things on his own. He was praying so intently because he knew that the problems his people were going through were far too great for him to solve on his own. He knew that this problem would take God to do something about it!
I have some scenarios here and I want you to think about how you would handle each situation [get feedback].
a) Your friend tells you they don’t want to be friends anymore. Who do you talk to first?
b) You have a test in school tomorrow, when do you pray?
c) You know you should pray, but you don’t really feel like it. What do you do?
Prayer is really important because God can do anything! More than anyone else He is the one who can help us and wants to be involved in our lives! That’s why Nehemiah decided to pray. And in praying he was preparing; whether he knew it or not. As Nehemiah prayed he was preparing his heart for the task ahead of him. How? Because as we pray God works on our heart, praying helps us to understand how God feels about a situation, what He thinks of us and what He wants us to do. It can help us see that God is in control and that He is the one that is needed in a situation. When we pray God responds and He starts to put things into action. Praying says to God that we trust Him to work things out and to prepare a way for things to become right again.
Sometimes it is easy to forget to pray. We think it is more important to do other things.
3) OBJECT LESSON: READY FOR ANYTHING
You will need pictures of the Army on a Powerpoint and an army uniform to wear, if you can get your hands on one.
Say: Can you imagine if our army never prepared for anything? Imagine if they never practiced shooting, they never got fit by climbing walls and they never went over drills on how to react with things get tough in war. Imagine if they had never talked to each other about what positions they would be in or who would be in charge. Imagine then the call to war and all of the army panicking and getting upset because they didn’t know what they were doing. Thankfully that would never happen because they are prepared. They are ready.
If we are going to do something great we need to prepare because that way we are ready for anything! Nehemiah was ready to answer when the king spoke to him. Why? Because he had prepared in prayer and that meant that he was ready. He knew what God had been placing on his heart. He knew what he wanted. So when the king asked him what he wanted and what he would need Nehemiah didn’t need to think quick (although he did ask God to help him have the king’s favor). Instead Nehemiah was quick to answer. He was able to make a decision quickly. He was ready for anything that the king might say.
We can be ready for anything God wants us to do by preparing in prayer and reading God’s Word. When we do these things we are building a relationship with God so that whatever is thrown in our path; good things or bad things, we are ready to deal with them.
SEARCH the Scriptures:
SMALL GROUP ACTIVITY:
Tug-o-War. This army game requires that the children be split into two teams. Create a pile of papers with a bible character written on each one. Split the characters into two, giving each team a pile to defend. Make sure you have a two parallel lines on the floor and a tie in the middle of the rope to make sure the rope starts and ends in the right place. Have the teams compete to pull the rope in their direction. Align the rope tie in the middle of the two parallel lines. This will act as the safe space once they begin tugging. When one team pull the rope and the tie crosses over their line the other team has lost. The losing team must give one of their bible characters away to the winning team. The team that has the most bible characters at the end of the game are the winning team.
Say: Okay soldiers! Your aim is to save as many of the bible characters as you possibly can from your enemy team by winning the tug-o-war to steal the bible characters back.
People who reacted/prepared with prayer:
Job: Job prayed and praised when his whole life began falling apart
Jonah: Jonah prayed in the belly of the big fish
Stephen: prayed before he died by stoning
David: spilled all his feelings to God in prayer in the Psalms
Samson: when he was caught in between the walls he finally prays
Elijah: prayed for God to heal the widows son, for God to burn up the sacrifice and more…
Daniel: was praying even before he knew he was going to the den of lions
Esther: calls the people to fast and pray before she goes to see the King
Jesus: rose early each morning to pray
Paul: even in prison Paul was praying for the church
Once you have finished ask the children why they think each of the bible characters prayed. Was it in response to something? Was it in preparation for something?
SENSE How You Feel:
You will need plenty of old junk for children to invent something interesting.
How would you feel if your family were in a dangerous place and you were too far away to help them? Imagine what it was like for Nehemiah. His family were in a city without any protection. Their enemies could easily kill them if they tried. How would you feel for your family and friends?
Children can either draw their creations or create them out of old junk that you have collected to make a small model to design something that they would want to make to protect their family. Discuss with the children what they have created and why it was important for them to try and protect their families and friends. Then remind them that they can pray for God’s protection.
Who are the people in your life that need you to pray for like Nehemiah prayed?
Using a paper plate and knives and forks set up a dinner table scene and ask the children to write their prayers for them on the paper plates. Remind the children that Nehemiah was far from home and wasn’t able to eat with his family around a table, but he was able to pray for them. Prayer brings us all together, even if we can’t be with one another physically.
Pray with the children to end.