When it comes to teaching young teenagers or young children in the church, it can sometimes be difficult to decide how to teach them or even what to teach them. If this sounds familiar, here are a few free lessons that you could use to teach a Sunday school prayer lesson or even a series of lessons.
Emphasize the Relationship Aspect with a Skit
The main biblical purpose of prayer is that it is our way of talking to God. If you talk to or hear from any relationship expert or counselor, they will tell you that the most important part of any relationship is communication.
Most divorces happen over lack of communication and most friendships dissolve for lack of communication. Once communication is the first thing to go, everything else begins to fall apart in a relationship.
Many of us have heard this idea many times and we know that communication is important within our relationships, but we often don’t take this thought into our relationships with God. We think that we can have a relationship with God without communicating with Him, but that is simply not true when it comes to Christian living.
This is especially true when it comes to younger people. They often haven’t had enough relational experience yet to understand the importance of communication and most, if not all of them, have not thought about that when it comes to God. Many do not yet understand the importance of prayer to the Christian life.
So, you can use a bit of a skit with your young people to illustrate this fact. In any and every aspect of your youth ministry, it is always a good idea to get the kids involved in what you’re teaching in tangible ways when you’re teaching a Sunday school lesson. This can take many forms.
You can ask them questions and get responses, you can have them fill in pieces of paper with notes as you’re teaching, or, if you have some youth leaders to help you, you could even set up prayer stations for them to participate in. These are all good things when it comes to engaging with younger children.
In this teaching on prayer, you’re going to use a mini skit to illustrate your point.
Bring up two kids from the group that you know will cooperate well or have two kids volunteer. Bring the child volunteers in front of the group and have them stand next to each other. Explain to the group that the more you talk to a friend, the closer you get to them.
Explain to them that when you talk to each other about your favorite movies, games, or things to do, you get to know more about your friend and feel closer to them.
However, explain to them that sometimes, you go for a time without talking to that friend and you tend to grow apart. Now have the two volunteers move farther apart. Explain to the group that when you don’t talk with your friends, you don’t know what’s going on in their lives.
Maybe they recently saw an amazing movie, but you don’t know about it because you haven’t spoken with them about it. You aren’t as close to them as you once were.
One thing you could also do here is using the example of a school break. Many of them, especially the older children, have probably experienced having a school break and not seeing or speaking to a friend for a while over a school break.
Explain to them how when this happens, you usually have a lot to catch up on with that friend when you see them again and how as you begin to start talking to each other again, you and that friend grow closer together again. Here you can have the two volunteers move closer together once more.
You can have the volunteers sit down and have the group clap for their ‘performance’. Now, you have a perfect foundation to teach them about how prayer affects their own relationships with God. Explain to them that God is like a close friend to them. He wants to know all about them. He wants to know their favorite things to do and what they like to eat.
However, He also likes to hear about what is going on in your life. When things are good or even bad, God wants to hear about what you’re thinking and feeling through it all. He’s like a best friend that cares about you and loves you no matter what.
Now you can say that since He wants to hear from you, you should talk to Him. He wants to get to know you, but that can’t happen unless you talk to Him. Just like the two friends that go a long time without speaking and grow apart, you can’t get closer to God without speaking to Him.
This is a great time to form your kids’ perspective on prayer. Explain to them that this is what prayer is; it is simply you speaking honestly to God and telling Him what you’re thinking and feeling. You can also explain to them that they can even ask for God’s help when they feel weak or when they are going through difficult situations or times of crisis.
Also, stress to them that they don’t need to say any specific words or anything like that when they pray. They can speak to God as they speak to a friend. I find that many young people don’t pray because they don’t feel like they know how to.
Instead, we need to be teaching young people that God simply wants to hear from them. He wants their honest thoughts and feelings to be communicated and doesn’t desire a formal way of speaking.
If you keep coming back to the analogy of communicating with a friend and how communication brings people closer together, your youth should understand that to get closer to God, they need to talk to Him as well. Use some Bible verses to back it up and you should be set!
Use an Object Lesson
Another way that you could teach young people about prayer is by using object lessons. An object lesson is simply a way of teaching something that uses an illustration of an object that your audience will be familiar with.
This is a great way of creating some familiarity in your audience and catching their attention while also making whatever you’re trying to teach much easier to understand in a creative way.
To teach about the gift of prayer, use a simple cell phone. Everyone has them these days and your youth will know what it is and most likely either have one or have experience with one.
Ask your young people what they use a cell phone for. Most likely, they’ll say to play games or to go on social media but get them to the answer of calling people or communicating with others.
Here, you can speak a bit about how we use cell phones to stay in touch with each other and to communicate with one another at any time and in any place. You can be anywhere in the world that has cell service and call someone else at any time.
Now tell them that prayer is like our cell phone to God. It’s the way that we can communicate with Him at any time and in any place. We don’t even need cell service!
Tell them that no matter where they are or what they are doing, they can always pray to God, and He will hear them. It’s their own personal way of talking to God and telling Him what they’re thinking, feeling, and going through in their daily lives.
Read to them Ephesians 6:18 which says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
Explain to them that Paul writes that we should pray at all times in the Holy Spirit. In other words, we can pray at all times! Many people struggle with the idea that even if they do pray, God won’t hear them or it’s not the right time.
However, here you can explain to them that God wants us to pray at any time. In fact, He wants us to pray at all times. Use this as an opportunity to truly encourage your youth to pray to God and not think too much about the circumstances in which they do it.
Depending on the response that you are getting from your youth, you may even want to take a few minutes of silence and encourage them to reconnect with God and lift up their own prayers during that time. This could kickstart their prayer life by helping them to pray more often and hear God’s voice.
Use the ACTS Method
When teaching about prayer, you must consider that many people don’t know how to pray. With all of the model prayers, like the Lord’s prayer, that go around and with hearing various people pray throughout their lives, your young people may think that you have to say specific words when you pray, or they may not even know what to say at all!
A helpful tool to teach your young people is the ACTS method of praying:
Although these are some big words, you can teach your kids what they mean, and they can be very helpful in teaching your youth how to pray.
Adoration is praising God for who He is and what He has done.
Confession is confessing your sins and honestly talking about your sin with God.
Thanksgiving is thanking God for all that He has given you and what He has done in your life.
Supplication is praying for your own needs and the needs of others. This is where you would pray for any prayer requests.
It may be helpful to go through a sample prayer with your youth as to what this would look like in actual prayer. Here’s one that has all four elements of the ACTS method that you can use in your class:
Dear God, thank you for all that you are in my life. Thank you for who you are and for the love that you have for me. Lord, I praise you for how amazing and wonderful you are. Creation itself speaks of your might and strength. You are an awesome God. (Adoration)
Lord, I confess that I do not always follow you the way that I should. I make mistakes and I sin. However, you are a God that is mighty to save. Lord, I am sorry for all the things that I have done to hurt you and all the times that I have disobeyed you. I ask right now for your forgiveness in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. (Confession)
Heavenly Father, I also just want to thank you for all that you’ve done for me in my life. Lord, thank you for sending your son to die for me on the cross and for bringing me to know him personally in my life. Lord, thank you for all that I have, especially the things that I forget are from you. You always provide what I need, and I thank you for that. (Thanksgiving)
I simply ask that you give me strength in my time of need and wisdom in all the decisions that I make. Dear Lord, give me a greater love for you and for others as I try to live out your will on this earth for the kingdom of God. (Supplication)
I pray all these things in Jesus’ name, amen.
These are just a few ways that you can teach prayer to a younger audience, but just be sure to feel the needs of your specific youth group and talk to them in a way that they would understand while using God’s word. May God bless your ministry and the words that you say.