Family Devotion Idea: Answers to Prayer
*About twice a month, we try to post the outline of a family devotion that you and your kids can do together. Carve out some time with your kids for a fun and creative discussion this week!
God always answers our prayers, though not always as we expect.
YES: Acts 12:1-10 (story of Peter being released from jail while friends prayed)
NO: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (the story of Paul asking God to remove his thorn in the flesh but God didn’t)
WAIT: Daniel 10:1-14 (story of Daniel praying for help and it was delayed)
CHANGE: Job 13:21, 42:10,12 (Job asks God to withdraw His hand far from Him, later God blesses him far more than ever before)
A family favorite dessert mix, such as a cake or brownies (box mix that will need to be prepared and baked)
Package of Lifesavers or similar candy
In Advance: Several times during the day, mention how you are craving whatever dessert you plan to make. Say this enough times that the kids are having the same craving. As they ask you to make it throughout the day, keep telling them "no," or "You will have to wait."
Just before you meet, put the dessert ingredients in a container but do not mix. It should be unappetizing with an egg sitting on top of the dry ingredients and liquid spread over it.
Lesson and Discussion:
*Words that are written in bold are when you, the parent, are speaking. Feel free to use your own words.
Before beginning, read each of the scripture examples and be familiar enough with them to tell them in your own words. As you begin this lesson, take out the lifesavers and pop one in your mouth. As the others see you do this and ask for one, freely and immediately give to whoever asks for one. (If one of the children doesn’t ask for a Lifesaver, offer one, using the example of "no, I don’t want one" to also reinforce getting an immediate answer by not getting something we don’t want.)
Today we are going to learn about answers to prayer. Have you ever asked for something and didn’t receive the answer for which you asked? Can you tell me some things you asked for and didn’t get? (Allow time for responses and give an example from your own experience.) Sometimes, in our human way of thinking, we think that a God who loves us will always say yes to our prayers and give us just what we ask for. When it doesn’t work out that way we don’t quite understand why.
ACTIVITY #1: Yes. When we first started today’s Family Time, you asked for a Lifesaver and I freely gave you one. It’s always nice when we immediately get what we ask for. God does that sometimes too. It’s very exciting to have God answer our pray for us right away, especially in just the way we want. It helps build our faith and shows us that God hears us. Let’s look at a time when God immediately answered a prayer for Peter and his friends. Tell the account from Acts 12:1-10 where Peter was miraculously released from jail while his friends prayed for him. God answered their prayers even as they were praying for them. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was always that way? Wouldn’t you love to always get what you asked for? Would the world be different if we all got what we asked for all the time? If so how? (Allow discussion but spark more discussion by asking questions like: What if someone wanted something that belonged to you? What if what you wanted hurt you or someone else?) Maybe getting what we ask for all the time isn’t such a good idea.
ACTIVITY #2: No. Earlier today we were hungry for brownies (this lesson will refer to brownies but use whatever dessert you plan to make). Who still wants some? I do! I do! Bring out the container of unmixed and uncooked brownies with raw egg sitting on top. No, you still may not have a brownie. I’m going to tell you why although sometimes when God tells us no, we don’t always know the reason why. These brownies haven’t been cooked yet and if you were to eat them now, you could get very sick because raw eggs can cause food poisoning. Aren’t you glad I said no? Let’s mix this up and put it in the oven to cook. Have the children help you finish preparing the brownies.
As the brownies cook, tell the children about Paul from I Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul asked God three times to have his "thorn in the flesh" removed. God told him no, that His grace would be sufficient for him. Paul didn’t get a yes to his prayer but he understood that God knows more than he ever could and was willing to accept God’s "no" answer. Sometimes we don’t get what we want, just like you didn’t get the brownies earlier, because God knows more than we know. I knew that the brownies weren’t cooked and wouldn’t be good for you so I said no.
ACTIVITY #3: Wait. Who still wants brownies? I do, I do! (Brownies will not have cooked long enough yet.) Let’s go get some. (Take brownies out of the oven.) Do these look ready? They don’t look very good to me. Maybe we should wait and let them cook a while longer. (Put them back into the oven to finish baking.) NoSometimes God tells us to wait too. If we ate the brownies now would they be as good as they will be if we wait?. No. Even when they are done completely, we will need to wait for them to cool. Why? They will be too hot to eat and we could burn ourselves. God wants to give us His best. When we are patient and wait for His timing, the result is often better than what we would have gotten. Sometimes there are different reasons for why we must wait. Let me tell you about Daniel having to wait for his answer. Tell story from Daniel 10:1-14 where Daniel prayed for help and had to wait for 3 weeks.
ACTIVITY #4: Change. I have one more Bible story to tell you about someone else who prayed. Tell story about Job and everything he lost and all the bad things that were happening to him. From Job 13:21 and 42:10,12 point out that Job finally asks God to just completely remove His hand from him. If God had answered Job’s request just the way Job wanted, Job would have missed out on the blessings that God had for him later. God changed the answer in order to give Job something better. (Brownies should be done and cooling by now.) Let’s eat our brownies. Aren’t you glad that I changed what you asked for (the raw brownies) to what you are getting now? God is like that too. He knows what we don’t, just like I knew the brownies were uncooked when you asked for them. I changed your earlier request, which would have gotten you uncooked brownies, to this: warm freshly baked brownies and I’m even going to add ice cream to put on the top! (Eat brownies with ice cream as you finish the activity.)
God doesn’t always answer our prayers just the way we expect. Sometimes we get a yes answer right away. Sometimes He says no because he knows it would not be good for us, or maybe for another reason we may never know. Other times, He tells us to wait. Still other times He gives us something completely different from what we asked for because He knows what He has planned is better. But He always answers our prayers, one way or another!
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