Key Scriptures: Matthew 6:9-13, John 17:1-23, Philippians 4:6. I Thessalonians 5:17, Romans 8:26, I Timothy 2:1-5, Matthew 26:41, Colossians 4:2, Luke 6:27-28, James 5:13-18, I John 5:14-15, Psalms 100:1-5, Luke 22:42, John 1413, James 4:3, Hebrews 5:7, Luke 18:1, Hebrews 4:16, I Thessalonians 5:17, Mark 11:24, Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26, John 9:31, Proverbs 28:9.
Guiding Questions: What is the purpose of prayer and how important should it be in the life of a Christian?
Optional Introductory Activity: Print off copies of various historical petitions to royalty. (1st Continental Congress Petition to King George III, Olive Branch Petition by 2nd Continental Congress, Parisian Petition to Dethrone the King – August 3, 1792, etc.) Have the students examine the petitions to see what they have in common. Ask them why they believe petitions usually include those elements. Ask if the next time they asked their parents for something, they used a formal petition language.
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics) We actually know quite a bit about the life of Paul, even though the details are scattered throughout the New Testament. Paul was born into a strict Jewish family that had somehow also been able to get Roman citizenship. (Acts 16:37 and 22:25-29). He was from Tarsus, now the forth-largest city in Turkey. He was in the tribe of Benjamin and his Hebrew name was Saul. (Paul was his Latin or Roman name.) He was originally a Pharisee who had studied under the famous teacher, Gamaliel. He persecuted the first Christians but later had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and a few days later became a Christian. Paul’s background is important because as a faithful Jew, prayer was already an important part of his life. He would have prayed daily at sunrise, in the afternoon, at sunset, at meals, at the temple, at the synagogue and probably shorter, more informal prayers throughout the day.
If you read about Paul’s life after he became a Christian in the book of Acts and the letters he wrote (about 14 New Testament books), he had a lot of things for which to pray. In fact prayer is woven throughout his writings and really throughout the entire Bible. God talks to us in the Bible. In prayer we have a chance to communicate with God in our personal world. Just like reading the Bible, praying is as necessary for a Christian’s spiritual health as breathing is to our physical health.
Before we look at what Paul and others wrote about prayer let’s read two recorded prayers of Jesus: Matthew 6:9-13 and John 17:1-26. What do you think we can learn about praying and prayers from those two examples?
You may have heard Christians talk about A.C.T.S or P.R.A.Y. prayers. These aren’t in the Bible but people use these acronyms to help them remember the basic types of things they notice people prayed in the Bible. Read the Bible verses with each and then look back at the two prayers of Jesus we read. Are there any other things you see that we should include in our prayers?
- Adoration and Praise – Psalm 100:1-5 and Matthew 6:9. We acknowledge how awesome and powerful God is.
- Confession and Repentance – James 5:16, Matthew 26:41 and 6:12-13. We confess our sins and ask for forgiveness.
- Thanksgiving – Colossians 4:2 and Philippians 4:6. We thank God for His many blessings.
- Supplication and Access – Luke 6:27-28, James 5:13-18, I Timothy 2:1-4 and Matthew 6:11. We ask God for His help in specific ways.
- Yield – Luke 22:42 and Romans 1:9-11. We acknowledge that w will accept God’s will and His timing even if it is different from what we would like.
Paul had wrote about different types of prayers above, but he also realized our hearts are an important part of our prayer life. What does he write about how we should pray in the following verses? What else did James, John, Mark and Luke add?
- Hebrews 5:7 with reverence
- Hebrews 4:16 with confidence
- I Thessalonians 5:17 without ceasing
- I Timothy 2:15 through Jesus
- Ephesians 6:18 in the Spirit
- John 14:13 in the name of Jesus
- James 4:3 not to spend on passions
- Luke 18:9-14 humbly
Paul also realizes that sometimes life is so confusing and difficult, we aren’t even really sure what to pray. Instead of not praying though, what does Paul tell us happens in those situations in Romans 8:26?
There is one other thing though, that we rarely discuss. God does refuse to even listen to certain prayers. Read John 9:31 and Proverbs 28:9. Which prayers does God not answer? Notice carefully though. God is not saying He will only answer prayers of people who never sin. He refuses to hear prayers of people who totally reject Him and absolutely refuse to obey His commands.
When you put all of these scriptures together, what do you think God wants our prayer lives to look like? What kinds of prayers does He want to hear? How close is your prayer life to these scriptures? What do you need to change about your prayer life?
Skills Activity: Review the main points of the lesson. Continue discussing the last two questions in the lesson about the current prayer lives of your students and what they need to change. Depending upon their responses, choose one or more of the following activities to encourage students in their prayer lives.
- Watch the movie War Room (or sections from it) and discuss it.
- Help students create highly personalized prayer journals.
- Brainstorm ways for students to encourage each other to pray. Consider apps, texts, visual reminders, etc.
- Provide materials for students to create attractive prayer reminders for their homes, lockers, cars, etc.
- Bring in several adult Christians to share how their prayer life has changed, anything they did to grow in that area and how they have seen God answer prayers (especially times when God said “no” or “wait” and they were later thankful He did.
Application Challenge: Read all of the recorded prayers of Jesus in the Bible. How can you make positive changes in your prayer life? Focus on at least one of those changes this week?
Author: Thereasa Winnett