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Use this quick lesson to help your youth ministry discover the importance of prayer.
Say: A couple of weeks ago while I was on a business trip, I was talking on my cell phone with my wife (yes, they do more than send text messages!).
I had just received some great news and was excited to share it with her.
Suddenly, I realized that she hadn’t said anything for several seconds.
I looked at my screen and it said that we still had a connection.
I said her name several times and waited for a response but did not get one.
I was frustrated because I was pretty sure that she was still on the line, but for some reason my conversation was only working one-way.
After hanging up and trying again, we were able to resume the conversation, but later I got to thinking about my experience and realized that prayer can sometimes feel the same way.
I know that God can hear me when I pray, but when His voice feels silent in my life, I sometimes wonder if the connection only works one-way.
Read 1 Kings 19:11-13
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain, ” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave…”
Say: In this story, Elijah was searching for God. First, he looked for Him in a windstorm, then a powerful fire, but God was not in either of those things.
This was a very significant experience for Elijah because God had established a pattern of appearing in these ways over hundreds of years when communicating with His people.
God appeared in a burning bush to Moses in Exodus 3 and in billows of smoke on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19 with winds that shook the ground.
Despite these patterns, Elijah does not feel God’s presence until he hears the faintest of whispers.
Do you ever find yourself expecting God’s voice to come in windstorms and explosive fireworks?
I know that when I am desperately seeking God in prayer, I most often want to hear or see His response in very obvious, visible ways.
If I am sick, I pray for healing and want to feel better immediately.
If I need help with a problem, I want a clear solution.
If I am in emotional pain, I want God make the pain go away.
Sometimes, though, I feel the same way I did during my dropped call with my wife.
I talk to God in prayer and feel and see no change.
It is in those moments that I need to remember that God’s voice sometimes comes in a gentle whisper.
He doesn’t always work in dramatic ways.
Sometimes it is in the little things that God moves the most.
I might not feel healthy right away, but He may nudge me toward the help that I need.
A solution may not present itself to fix my problems, but He can use those problems to make me stronger.
The pain may not always go away immediately, but He sometimes uses that pain to remind of all that He has blessed me with.
These are just a few tangible ways that God speaks through a whisper.
How are you looking for God to respond to your prayers?
Maybe the connection hasn’t been lost.
Perhaps you are just not listening carefully enough.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
How has God spoken or moved in your life in a way that seems like a powerful wind or fire?
How has God spoken or moved in your life in a way that seems like a gentle whisper?
What things in your life can make it difficult for you to hear God’s whisper?
Why do you think that God uses a whisper sometimes instead of a dramatic experience?
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If you liked this lesson, you will enjoy this…
Youth Group Game on Prayer
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Overview: To parallel tossing our prayers up to God like we toss a ball or a piece of paper.
- 5 small nerf balls or pieces of paper per group
- 2 clean trash cans or large buckets
Preparation: Crumble 10 pieces of paper if no nerf balls are available
Time Involved: 10-15 minutes
Game Description: Break up the larger group into boys and girls. Line the two groups up with the trash can or large buckets approximately 20 feet away. Have the students compete to see which group can successfully make 5 baskets before the other group. The group who makes 5 baskets first wins gender bragging rights for the day.
Bible Verse Emphasis: Matthew 6: 5-6 (MSG)
“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
Goal: For the students to realize they don’t have to have the right words or the right style to pray. To talk to God like they would a friend instead of tossing up a prayer, hoping to “make a basket”.
Discussion Questions (in small groups)
- Go around say your name, your school, and your favorite sport or hobby.
- Do they ever find it difficult to pray? Why or why not?
- Have they ever found themselves just throwing a prayer up to God? Why?
- What do you think prayer accomplishes?
- Go around and say something you need prayer for. Then have someone pray for those request.
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Liked this game? View this Youth Group Lesson on Prayer
These ideas use visual or activity prompts to encourage individual and group prayer. Several can be used together to develop extended times of creative prayer with your group.
‘I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.’ 1 Timothy 2: 1-4
BIRTHDAY PRAYER BOARD
Put up a wall calendar and ask the young people and leaders to write their names beside their date of birth. Include other members from the church if you wish and any significant dates from the church and youth group calendar. Each week use this visual prompt to stimulate small group prayer for individuals and activities.
PRAYERS IN A HAT
Ask everyone in the group to put their name on a piece of paper. Place the pieces of paper into a hat or another convenient container. Then pass the hat around the group and ask each young person to take out a piece of paper. Encourage them to pray for that person during the coming week.
NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST
Ask the group to face each of these directions in turn and then pray together in silence, or out loud, for any specific needs, personal, individual, local, national, global in that direction. Find out where the missionaries from your church, or those you support, are working and pray for them as you face the direction of their mission field. Bring a compass to the meeting!
Invite someone from your church or local community i.e. police officer, health worker, businessman, educator, local politician, to talk a little about their role and share prayer requests for the needs of the community related to their work and role. These can be developed for personal or group prayer.
Invite the young people to go for a walk around your neighbourhood or town. If you have a large youth group divide into smaller groups, each accompanied by a leader. As you walk make notes of the things you see i.e. particular homes, schools, shops, people. Consider and discuss possible prayer needs for each of these situations, and make a note. You could pray right there and then, or perhaps go away and write up your list of locations and prayer topics.
Collect together some of the TV news headlines (local, national, global) from the previous week as a short video or PowerPoint presentation. Alternatively, select 3-4 headlines from newspapers and stick them to a piece of card. Ask the members of the group to write a prayer about one of the subjects, and then in turn, to read them out. Or, give out copies of the day’s newspapers and ask the young people to cut out or highlight stories they wish to pray for.
PRAYER MAPS (1)
Place a large map of your nation at the centre of the room. Read 1 Timothy 2: 1-4 and invite the young people to get into small groups of 3 or 4 and encourage them to pray for those in authority. Pray for your government and leaders. Pray for wisdom as they govern.
Ask the young people to form new small groups to pray for the church in your nation. Pray for the church to be bold in ‘speaking the truth in love’ and pray for revival. Pray for your church to have a greater impact and witness in your community.
PRAYER MAPS (2)
Place a large map or globe of the world in the centre of the room. Around the map place photographs and newspaper articles of situations around the world which need prayer and intercession. Highlight nations where you know missionaries and Christian ministries working to reach people with the Gospel. If you wish, ask members of the group to research certain nations and bring prayer requests from the information they have gathered.
Article by Grahame Knox from Insight. Used with permission.
It’s here. 2016 is calling out to us. Every new year inspires us to be who God has created us to be in a more committed and faithful way. We all hope to rise above our failures and to enjoy even the smallest victories throughout the new year. I do believe in New Year’s resolutions. I believe they focus us and give us something to aim for.
Kurt’s post from last week inspired me. Immediately, I connected to three of the things he listed:
Be a more open listener to criticism.
Spend more time at the feet of Jesus.
Be a more intentional mentor to others.
I will commit to these three things and every time I remember them I will also remember three prayers. The truth in my life is that resolutions without devotion to prayer are as useless as a car without tires. Year after year I’ve committed to resolutions like I commit to a new diet. I will myself to reach new goals. Here’s the problem-I’m not that good. I’m undisciplined and better at starting things than finishing things. If I don’t reach a goal I will live, try again next year. But I can not live without prayer. So I resolve to pray. I will keep my list of resolutions on the wall and these prayers in my heart: 3 prayers to pray over and over again in 2016…
Lord, give me eyes to see the unloved. With your sight I will see and serve the one who feels invisible. With your sight I will see and love the person who feels unseen and unloved. Take off my blindfolds and fill me with the courage to love.
Loving God, help me see you in the face and heart of every student, every parent, every person you place in front of me today. When I see you I will embrace you and serve you. Humble me Lord so that my pride will not keep me from recognizing you.
Holy Spirit guide me. Speak to me in every moment. Love through me in every moment. In every moment draw me closer to you and let me know your love that I might love others as you love me.
May our prayers give us the strength and courage to reach our resolutions and may our resolutions keep us more committed than ever to go to God in prayer.