In light of the current Coronavirus crisis, we’ve decided to release excerpts from the as-yet-unpublished book Why Do Bad Things Happen? A Devotional for Busy Families. This book will not be released until later this year, but we felt families could use these lessons to talk with their kids about what is happening now. Join the E-Team for updates on Nancy Ruth’s progress in finishing this book.
Unit 3, Lesson 3: God always answers our prayers.
Teaching objective: By the end of this lesson, families should be able to begin praying, expecting God to answer.
Biblical texts: 1 Jn 5:14-15; Lk 22:15, 41-44; 23:46; Rom 1:13, 15; Acts 28:16; Jas (James) 5:17-18; Lk 18:1-8; (Optional: 1 Kings 17-18)
Supplies needed: a Bible (or Bible app), paper, writing utensils
Optional Time-Savers & Helps:
- Bookmark the Bible verses used in today’s lesson (1 Jn 5:14-15, Lk 22:15, 41-44; 23:46; Rom 1:13, 15; Acts 28:16; Jas/James 5:17-18; Lk 18:1-8). The benefit of this is saving the time spent looking them up. The drawback is that family members don’t get to practice their Bible skills. It’s your call.
- Collect pictures illustrating the following concepts: George Müller, George Müller orphanage, Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Paul’s missionary journeys, Elijah praying for rain.
Have you ever tried to talk to somebody who wasn’t listening? (Allow the family to answer.) How did that make you feel? (Allow the family to answer.) God always hears us when we pray. God always answers our prayers. Before we get started, let’s pray.
For younger children: Fold your hands and close your eyes. We’re going to talk to God. Lord, thank You that You are omnipotent, all-powerful. Thank You for loving us. Thank You for hearing us when we pray. Thank You for always answering our prayers. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
For older children: Lord, we love You. Thank You that You are omnibenevolent, wholly-good. Thank You for Your kindness and mercy. Most of all, thank You for Your love. Teach us to love like You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Bible Lesson, Part 1
In this unit, we’re learning that God is omnipotent, all-powerful. Last time we saw glimpses, little peeks, of God’s glory. Our goal today is to begin praying, expecting God to answer.
God always answers our prayers. Read 1 John 5:14-15.
George Müller was a man who lived in the early 1830s. His goal was to let his life and work show tangible evidence, proof anyone could see, that God answers prayer. George Müller asked for specific requests which glorify God. Then he wrote down the ways God specifically answered those prayers. Müller’s journals record God’s specific answers to specific prayers time and time again. If a prayer was not answered right away, Müller kept praying until God answered. Each time, he prayed, believing God would answer. He looked for God’s answers and was never surprised when they came.
Let me give you an example. George Müller felt like God wanted him to do something to help the hundreds of orphan children without good homes in England where he lived. This was before the foster care system and adoptions didn’t happen very often. That means that when a child’s parents died, he or she had to go live on the street with no home. If the child had rich relatives, he or she might get to go live in an orphanage with other parent-less children. Müller wanted to do something to help the kids without wealthy family members.
So, George Müller decided to start his own orphanage where any child could come. The problem was that he didn’t have any money. He decided to only tell God when he needed money. Müller believed that God would answer his prayers and provide everything he needed to help these children. In this way, Müller raised enough money to open a large orphanage. He was even able to build four big buildings that are still standing in England.
For older children: Listen to some of his journal entries from 1838. If you don’t live in England, a pound is an amount of money. The symbol for a pounds is ₤. Shillings (s) and pence (d) are smaller than a pound. A penny is a very small amount of money. Listen to the ways God answered George Müller’s prayers.
August 18, 1838. I have not a penny in hand for the orphans. In a day or two many pounds will be needed. My eyes are up to the Lord.
Evening. Before this day is over, I have received from a sister ₤5. She had some time since put away her trinkets to be sold for the benefit of the orphans. This morning whilst in prayer, it came to her mind, I have this ₤5, and owe no man anything, therefore it would be better to give this money at once, as it may be some time before I can dispose of the trinkets. She therefore brought it, little knowing that there was not a penny in hand, and that I had been able to advance only ₤4 15s 5 d for house-keeping in the Boys’ Orphan House, instead of the usual ₤10.
August 20. The ₤5 which I had received on the 18th had been given for house-keeping, so that today I was again penniless. But my eyes were up to the Lord. I gave myself to prayer this morning, knowing that I should want again this week at least ₤13, if not above ₤20. Today I received ₤12 in answer to prayer from a lady who is staying at Clifton whom I had never seen before.
August 23. Today I was again without one single penny, when ₤3 was sent from Clapham, with a box of new clothes for the orphans.
[Roger Steer, George Müller: Delighted in God (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 1997), 77-78.]
Break: Review with Words
Let’s take a break and get creative. Today we’re going to work together to write a prayer. Let’s come up with at least one thing for each of the categories below. What’s cool is that these categories are an acrostic. Each category begins with a letter in the word Pray: P-R-A-Y. Praise and thanksgiving, Repent and confess, Ask for what you need and others need, Yield and surrender your life to the Lord’s Will. This is how I learned to pray a long time ago. (For an added challenge, write your prayer as a poem or a song.)
NOTE: If you don’t typically care for written out prayers, think of this as teaching your kids about prayer. You’re not writing a prayer to memorize and mindlessly recite. You’re practicing different ways to pray. The act of writing it down just helps the lesson better stick in children’s heads.
- Praise and Thanksgiving – What is something that describes God? Praise God for who He is. What is something God has done? Thank God for what He has done.
- Repent and Confess – Sin is anything we think, say, do, or don’t do that doesn’t measure up to God’s perfect standard (Rom. 3:23). We still sin, even after we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior (Rom. 3:23). Take a moment to think. What is something you’ve done lately that is a sin? Tell God about it. Tell Him you’re sorry and mean it. Ask Him to help you do things differently next time. That is repentance. Confession is telling on yourself to God.
- Ask – Ask God for what you need and what other people need.
- Yield and Surrender – “Yield and surrender” means giving God control of your life. Tell God you love Him. Tell God you know that He wants what’s best for you. Ask Him to show you what He wants. Ask Him to help you to do it. Ask God to change what you want to match what God wants for you. Promise God that you’ll do what He wants, even if it’s different from what you want. Thank God for always knowing what’s best for us.
After you’ve written out your prayer. Take time to say it together. Don’t just read the words out loud. Think about the words as you say them. Say them to God and mean them.
Bible Lesson, Part 2
Today we’re learning that God always answers our prayers. We talked about how George Müller prayed for specific things and expected God to answer. He did. We talked about how to pray using the acrostic P.R.A.Y. – Praise and thanksgiving, Repent and confess, Ask for yourself and other people, Yield and surrender. Now let’s look at three ways God answers prayer.
Sometimes God says, “Yes” when He answers our prayers. Sometimes God says, “No.” Sometimes God says, “Wait.” Let’s look at some examples from the Bible. You tell me if God answered the person’s prayer with “yes,” “no,” or “wait.”
- Read Luke 22:15, 41-44, 23:46. What did Jesus ask for? Did God tell Jesus “yes,” “no,” or “wait”? (Don’t forget to remind kids that Jesus didn’t stay dead. He came back to life on the third day. Luke 24:5-7.)
- Read Romans 1:13, 15, Acts 28:16. What did Paul ask? Did God tell Paul “yes,” “no,” or “wait”?
- Read James 5:17-18. (For the full story, read 1 Kings 17-18.) What did Elijah ask? Did God tell Elijah “yes,” “no,” or “wait”?
God always knows what’s best for us. Sometimes God doesn’t answer the way we want, but God always knows what’s best. Remember our discussion about the ways “good” is different from “happy”? Answering yes to all our prayers would make us happy, but it is not always good. Keep praying. Don’t give up because God hasn’t answered yet. He may be telling you to wait.
For older children: Read Luke 18:1-8. This unrighteous judge didn’t care about the woman. He only answered her request because she kept asking. God is different. He loves us very much and wants to answer our prayers. Even so, we need to be persistent and keep asking. Sometimes God says, “wait” because He wants to teach us something in the process. Keep praying. Keep asking. Keep yielding and surrendering to what God wants for you. He will answer you because He loves you.
Let’s see how well you listened and think about what we’ve learned.
- Explain what we mean when we say, “God is omnipotent, all-powerful”? (Allow the family to answer.) Omnipotent means all-powerful. God is all-powerful. Nothing is too hard for God, but He cannot do the logically impossible. Also, our omnipotent, all-powerful God always acts according to His character. That means He never changes who He is or what’s important to Him.
- Does God answer prayer? (Allow the family to answer.)
- How often does God answer our prayers? (Allow the family to answer.) God always answers our prayers.
- How does expecting God to answer change how we pray? (Allow the family to answer.) HINT: How did George Müller pray?
- Who will pray for us now? (Pray together.)
Review the first of this week’s memory verses together. Job 42:2 (NIV; Feel free to use a different version if you prefer.) “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2. Now let’s start the second verse. Job 42:5 (NIV: Feel free to use a different version if you prefer.) “I have heard of you.” Many people have heard about God. You heard about God in today’s lesson. The rest of this verse goes on to say that knowing about God is not the same as knowing God personally. We can know about God, but not have a relationship with Him. We can know about God, but have never seen God at work in our lives. Our prayer is to see God at work in our lives. One way we see that is noticing when God answers our prayers. Say Job 42:2 one more time. “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2. Now what we’ve learned of Job 42:5. “I have heard of you.” Job 42:5.
What is the very first book in the Bible? Practice finding Genesis without using the Table of Contents. What book is in the middle of the Bible? Practice finding Psalms without using the Table of Contents. What are the first four books in the New Testament called? The Gospels tell us about what? What are the four Gospel books?
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each tell about the life of Jesus. Some people think the Bible can’t be trusted because these four people tell about Jesus a little differently. Think about it this way. Pretend I invited your family to take a trip with me to China. Close your eyes and picture this trip with me. When we leave the airport, we get a rickshaw to take us around. A rickshaw is a little cart with a roof, pulled by a man on a bicycle. We enter the busy traffic on the streets. There are so many people that you wonder how the guy on the bike can find a place to go forward. We pass by lots of little stands by the side of the road that have statues in them with lots of flowers and other things people have left. Then we get to a bigger building. It has a big entry way with thick red columns and a thick red bar across the top with pointy ends. It looks so big as we go under it! Then we stop at a beautiful garden. One section of the garden is just gravel and rocks with some water going through. Adults are practicing martial arts in the park while older people sit on benches and talk. Some kids are playing basketball.
Now open your eyes. Pretend we are all telling about our trip. What do you remember that we pretended to do? (Allow the family to answer.) Did we all talk about the same things? (Allow the family to answer.) Which one of us was right about what we saw? (Allow the family to answer.) We all were. We just emphasized different things. We chose what to talk about and what we left out, but we all experienced and saw the same things in our pretend story. Just because we didn’t talk about the same things does not mean we didn’t agree on what happened. It’s the same thing with the Gospels. Different authors talked about different things, but that doesn’t change the fact that it all really happened.
Which one of us was right about what we saw? (Allow the family to answer.) We all were. We just emphasized different things. We chose what to talk about and what we left out, but we all experienced and saw the same things. Just because we didn’t talk about the same things does not mean we didn’t agree on what happened. It’s the same thing with the Gospels. Different authors talked about different things, but that doesn’t change the fact that it all really happened.
Optional Challenge: What is the first book of the Bible? What are the other books of the Law? Practice finding Genesis without using the Table of Contents. Practice saying the books of Wisdom. Practice finding the book of Psalms without using the Table of Contents. Work on memorizing the Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel. Are the Major Prophets before or after the book of Psalms? Find the book of Lamentations. Close your Bible. Find the book of Isaiah. Close your Bible. Find the book of Daniel. Close your Bible. Find the book of Jeremiah. Close your Bible. Find the book of Ezekiel. Great job!
Quick Summary & Peek At Next Time
In this unit, we’re learning that God is omnipotent. “Omnipotent” means all-powerful. God is all-powerful. Nothing is too hard for God, but He cannot do the logically impossible. Also, our omnipotent, all-powerful God always acts according to His character. That means He never changes who He is or what’s important to Him. Last time we looked at examples of God’s power in the Bible, in nature, and in everyday life. Today we discussed how God always answers our prayers. Next time we’ll talk about why people were killed in the Old Testament.
Optional Further Reading:
Lk 18:1-14; Matt 6:5-15; Jas (James) 4:3; 5:16-18; 1 Ki 17-18
- Bridges, Jerry. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988.
- Grudem, Wayne. 1994. “Prayer.” In Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. 376-396. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
- Hatcher, Lori. “10 Most Important Verses on Prayer in the Bible.” [Online] 2016 8 August. < https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/10-most-important-verses-on-prayer-in-the-bible.html > [Cited 2019 22 March.]
- Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain. New York: HarperOne, 1940.
- Steer, Roger. George Müller: Delighted in God (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 1997).
- Taliaferro, Charles. 2013. “Evil and Prayer: Set Prayers and Other Special Weapons and Tactics in Times of Trouble.” In God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled With Pain. By Chad Meister and James K. Drew Jr. 152-162. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.