Thursday, February 5, 2009



I have been sharing teaching ideas with children's ministers through my monthly Newsletters and on my 'Blog' sites since 2002. In these 'Special Blogs', I have grouped together some of my ideas into some of the major Biblical teaching areas. In this way it is hoped that readers will be able to go directly to a particular subject to view some ideas - object lessons, teaching tips, stories etc., or even to prepare a complete children's lesson (or lessons) on that subject.

Maurice Sweetsur

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Contents - All 'Special Blogs'.

1. Creation.
2. Christmas.
3. Easter.
4. The Bible.
5. Prayer.
6. Hearing from God.
7. The Ten Commandments.
8. John 3.16.
9. Teaching Memory verses.
10. Gospel Illusions.
11. Object Lessons (using natural laws).
12. Lessons involving balloons.
13. Lessons involving fire.

Other Blog sites from Maurice Sweetsur :-

Children's ministry -
All teaching material (All Newsletters) -
Object lessons / Illusions -
Bible lessons and Teaching tips -
Stories, skits and puppet plays -
Bible answers for kids -
Kidzone (Children's site) -
Kidzone - Archives. -
To find out more about my ministry to children, go to my main 'Blog' -

Contents (Prayer).

Teaching Tip - Teaching children to P.R.A.Y.
Teaching Tip - Getting children to pray in public.
Teaching Tip - How we should pray. A lesson from blind Bartimaeus.
Teaching Tip - The Lord's prayer.
Story - God knows best.
Object Lesson - Using your fingers as a prayer reminder.
Object Lesson - Ask and you shall receive.
Object Lesson - Break in communication with God.

T.T. - Teaching children to P.R.A.Y.

Here is a simple prayer pattern that you can teach children so as to help encourage them to get into regular prayer habits.

Preparation. Get a piece of cardboard, and write out the four words as shown below, ensuring that the first letter of each word is larger than the others.


Cut and fold the cardboard in such a way that you can show the word 'PRAY' on its own, and then in turn unfold the remainder of each word as you talk about it.


Prayer is talking to God, and I can't think of anything that God likes better than when we do this. We can talk to God anywhere, anytime, and about anything. The most important thing about prayer, however, is that it should be regular. Set aside a few minutes every day to talk to God. Most people find that the best time of the day to do this is either first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, before they go to bed. These are times which you can easily remember, and you are less likely to be interrupted.

There are basically four different types of prayer, and if you remember the word 'P.R.A.Y.' it will remind you of them. You can use this as your prayer pattern as you talk to God.

'P' stands for 'Praise'. (Unfold the card to reveal the first word). Praise is talking (or singing) to God about God. You could pray something like "God you're good, loving, wonderful, awesome etc." Praise also includes thanksgiving. I am sure you can all think of a lot to thank God for - Your lives, His gift of Jesus, your families, friends, school, etc.

'R' stands for 'Regrets'. Think back to the last time you prayed, and ask yourself if there is anything you regret - anything that you have done, said, or even thought that you are sorry about. If there is, ask God to forgive you, and He well. Then ask Him to help you do better next time.

'A' stands for 'Ask'. We can ask God to help others. We can pray for our family, friends, anybody at all and ask God to be with them and meet their needs. The Bible particularly says that we should pray for those in authority over us, e.g. parents, teachers, those in government. If you don't know their particular needs, you could ask God to help them make good choices.

'Y' stands for 'Yourself'. God encourages us to come to Him and ask for our needs. In fact, Jesus promised that He would give us all our needs. What are some of the things we need? That's right, food, water, clothes, homes, families to look after us, peace (if we are troubled), joy (if we are sad), love (if someone is annoying us), patience (if we are waiting for something). However, God did not promise to give us everything we want - our wants are different from our needs. God likes to bless us, and there is nothing wrong in asking Him for whatever you want. But He knows what is best for you, and will never give you something that would be bad for you. Therefore, His answer to your request might be Yes, wait, or no. (You could do the well known traffic light illustration here).


Let's all say aloud together the four different types of prayer.

P stands for - - - - - Praise.
R stands for - - - - - Regrets.
A stands for - - - - - Ask.
Y stands for - - - - - Yourself.


Following on from this teaching, I often get the children to write out a prayer along the lines I have described. I emphasise that if they do not wish to write a particular type of prayer (e.g. Regrets) that is alright. Finally, I encourage them to conclude by actually praying their prayer.

I will share a few of the children's prayers that have been written in my classes recently. They never cease to bless and/or amuse me.

Children's prayers.


"God, you are really caring about other people, especially me."

"God, you are wonderful and fun. You are the best Dad."

"God, you are an angel for helping other people."


"I am sorry for doing everything bad, but I will try to get good, and make my family go to church."

"I am sorry that I don't like my brother a lot."

"I am sorry for strangling my brothers and stealing my mum's money."

"Sorry for swearing sometimes. I didn't know what I was doing. Do you forgive me?"

"Forgive me for asking for something that I never got."


"Please help the people who live on the street."

'God, I ask you to help my _________. They seem very dim. So please help them."

"God, can you please look after my poor dog 'Racer' in heaven."

"Can you please help my brother to behave better, because he is naughty all the time."


"Please God, can you be with me wherever I am, even when I am in a different country."

"God, I really like to sing. When I am older I want to sing out loud on stage, and live in a big fancy house."

"God, help me make good choices in life, and can I have an air-rifle."

"God, make sure that I will be a professional soccer player."

"Dear Lord, I have nothing to ask for. I have everything I need. Amen."

T.T. - Getting children to pray in public.

I teach children mainly from non-Christian homes, and in the approximate age range 6 to 11. I have found that it is relatively easy to get the younger children to pray out loud in class, but those aged about 8 and above are more self-conscious, and so less inclined to do so. The following is a technique that I have found to be very effective in encouraging older children to pray in public.

With each new class, I start off the same way, by getting the children to go through a simple routine. I say "God is good." The children have to reply "All the time." I then say "All the time," and the children say "God is good."

When the children are used to this (just one or two weeks), I get different children to do the leading instead of myself. Then after one or two more weeks, I get the children who want to lead to think up their own words to describe God, i.e. "God is wonderful, awesome, powerful, marvellous" etc. etc.

When the children are used to this routine, I say "Today, instead of starting by talking about God, I want you to start by talking to God, by saying God, you're good, wonderful, awesome etc. We won't do the 'All the time' part, but as many of you as want to can participate." Usually there is no shortage of volunteers, and the children have actually started to pray in public.

A few weeks later, I invite the children, if they wish, to make their prayers a little longer, by thanking God for something. So they may pray "God, you're wonderful, and I thank you for sending Jesus." "God you're awesome, and thank you for my mum." etc. To encourage the children, I often compliment them on their prayers. "What a great prayer." "That was a wonderful thing to pray for." etc.

Using this procedure, I find that most children are eager to participate in our opening prayer to God. I have had one or two classes where only a few children would volunteer to pray, but this was easily overcome by offering an incentive. I say, "I have a piece of paper in my pocket, with a number on it. If the number is 1, the first person who prays will get a little prize (e.g. a bookmark), if the number is 10, the tenth person to pray will get the prize, etc." I have never needed an incentive for the following week. Once children "take the plunge" and pray out loud for the first time, they are eager to keep doing it. I usually find that after a few weeks, whenever I enter a class, the hands of about half the children shoot up, indicating that they want to participate in the opening prayer!

T.T. - How we should pray. A lesson from blind Bartimaeus.

I find the story of Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10, Luke 18) ideal for teaching children about how we should pray.

After telling the story, I write out the first four letters of the Beggar's name ( B.A.R.T.) on a card, and talk about each one in turn.

B. Stands for Bold and Persistent. Bartimaeus refused to listen to the crowd who tried to put him off, but just kept on calling out until Jesus heard and answered him. If we want something badly from God, we should come boldly before Him, knowing that He loves us and wants to bless us. We should keep on asking until we get an answer, and refuse to listen to those who may try to discourage us.

A. Stands for Ask and be exact. Bartimaeus knew exactly what he wanted Jesus to do for him. He simply said "I want to see." And that is exactly what he got. Don't pray 'General' prayers like "God bless my family," but rather make up your mind exactly what you want God to do for you, and ask for that.

R. Stands for Remember to Believe. Believing is the only way we can receive from God. Even while he was still blind, Bartimaeus really believed he would be healed, and proved it by throwing off his coat. (This would have almost certainly have been a special Beggars coat - given to him by the Authorities, thus showing he was legally allowed to beg.) If Bartimaeus had remained blind, it is extremely unlikely he would have found his coat again. However, he was so convinced Jesus would heal him, he basically threw away his only source of income! Jesus saw Bartimaeus' faith and said, "Then see, your faith has healed you."

T. Stands for Thanksgiving. After the miracle, Bartimaeus followed after Jesus praising God. We already have many things we can thank God for. Perhaps you can think of some of them right now, and thank Him for them?

T.T. - The Lord's prayer.

Many children, whether they go to church or not, know the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6. 9 - 13). In fact in Britain, many schoolchildren have to repeat this prayer every morning before the start of their lessons. I found, however, that although many children could recite the Lord's prayer for me, most of them didn't have much idea of what they were praying for! This, I believe, is because of two main reasons. Firstly, many children are still taught this prayer in old (King James) English using words that they are totally unfamiliar with such as art, hallowed, thy and trespasses. Secondly, although some children are taught the prayer, they are simply not taught what it actually means.

This is the way I teach the Lord's prayer to children. I write out the prayer on the board, or a piece of cardboard, using a modern translation e.g. Contemporary English Version. Then I go through the prayer, explaining each section as I do so as shown below.

Our Father in heaven,

What a great privilege it is for anyone to be able to call God 'Father'. God is the Creator of everyone, but He is only the Father of those who have become part of His family through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Many people, when they pray call God 'Father', but if they are not part of His family, they should really call Him by some other name, like 'my Creator'.

help us to honour your name.

God and His Name are inextricably linked together. That is why we should never use His Name, or the Name of Jesus, in a disrespectful way, such as swearing. If we do so, we are actually disrespecting God. No, we should always use the Name of God in the right way, with respect and honour. And if we really love Him, we should want others to Honour His Name as well.

Come and set up your Kingdom, so that everyone on earth will obey you, as you are obeyed in heaven.

This is the greatest prayer that anyone could ever make. God is, of course, obeyed in heaven, but not everyone obeys Him here on earth. Our greatest desire should be that everyone does obey Him on earth. We know that one day, after Jesus returns, everyone on earth will obey God. The exciting thing is, we can play a part in making this happen. The more we pray this prayer, the sooner Jesus will be able to return and bring in that glorious day.

Give us our food for today.

I think this is my favourite part of the prayer. After teaching us to pray the greatest prayer imaginable (Come and set up your Kingdom - - - - ) Jesus tells us to ask for "our food for today." (That is why many people 'give thanks' to God at mealtimes). This reminds us that God is interested in every little detail of our lives, even the food we eat. It also reminds us that everything we have, food, water, clothes, houses, families, etc., even the air we breathe, comes from God.

Notice also, that Jesus teaches us to ask for our needs for today. Many people worry about the future, "will I pass my exams, will I get a job, will I have enough money, will I get sick, etc., etc." No, Jesus tells us not to worry about the future, because He will take care of that. We are to concentrate on today. Today is the important time.

Forgive us for doing wrong,

There is nothing that you or I could possibly do that God won't forgive if we ask Him to, and we are truly sorry.

as we forgive others.

Much as God wishes to forgive us when we do wrong, He can only do so if we are prepared to forgive others that hurt or harm us. This can be a very hard thing to do, but nevertheless something that we must do, if we wish God to forgive us. The important thing to remember is that you need to choose to forgive others. Don't wait until you feel like forgiving them, because you may wait forever! And when you do forgive them, you are not saying "what they did didn't really matter". No, you are actually handing the situation over to God, for Him to deal with in however way He chooses. So always remember to tell God when you choose to forgive someone. (The Parable of the unmerciful servant - Matthew 18. 21-35 - is a good story to teach to reinforce our need to forgive others).

Keep us from being tempted,

Everyone is tempted to do wrong. And being tempted is not a sin. What is a sin, is when we give in to our temptations. But we can pray and ask God to "keep us from being tempted".

and protect us from evil.

There is a lot of evil in the world, but God is well able to protect us from it, if we ask him to.


That means "so be it" or "I agree" (to what has just been prayed). So by saying "Amen", we are including ourselves in the prayer.

Now, let us all pray this prayer together, and really think of what the words mean as we are saying them.

Story - God knows best.

Many years ago an Irish girl was born with blonde hair and brown eyes. She wished, however, that her eyes were blue like all her brothers and sisters - she just didn't like looking different from them. One day she read in her Bible where Jesus promised to give her whatever she asked for. That night she excitedly prayed, asking God to change the colour of her eyes to blue. The next morning she expectantly looked in the mirror to check the colour of her eyes and, to her great disappointment, found them still to be brown.

Somewhat puzzled the young girl consulted her mother. "Why will God not give me blue eyes like my brothers and sisters?" Her wise mother replied "God knows best. He has given you brown eyes for a reason. God has planned your life out even from before you were born, and perhaps one day you will discover why He chose to give you brown eyes."

The years passed, and that Irish girl became a Missionary to India. To her horror she discovered that young children were working as slaves in a factory near where she now lived. She knew that she must do something about it. Therefore she disguised herself as a native Indian, blackening her blonde hair with boot polish, browning her face and arms with coffee, and putting on a Sari dress.

Boldly the disguised missionary walked past the factory guards and managed to smuggle a number of the smallest children out by hiding them under her loose fitting dress.

Later, when this event was being recounted to some friends, one of them exclaimed "Isn't it lucky that you have brown eyes and not blue eyes like all your brothers and sisters. No-one can disguise the colour of their eyes, so if you had blue eyes you could never have fooled the factory guards by passing yourself off as an Indian!"

Was it "luck" that that Irish girl was born with brown eyes? I don't think so. I believe that God gave her brown eyes for a reason. God "knows the end from the beginning." He knew that she would need to have brown eyes all those years later.

Sometimes we may pray and ask God for something. And although it may appear that there is no good reason why He shouldn't grant our request, we don't get what we asked for. At those times we need to trust God and to remind ourselves that, as with the case of the Irish girl, He sees "The big picture." Whereas we see only a little part of our lives, God sees all of it - past, present, and future. And only He knows what is really best for us.

O.L. - Using your fingers as a prayer reminder.

Here is a finger prayer exercise that has been around for many years.

Get the children to have their hands facing inwards. Then :-

!st. Finger (Thumb).

This one is the nearest to us. We should pray for our families.

2nd. Finger.

This one does the pointing. We should pray for those who 'point the way' for us - our Church leaders and Sunday school teachers.

3rd. Finger.

This one is the tallest. We should pray for the Leaders in National and local Government.

4th. Finger.

The weakest. We should pray for the sick, needy and poor people.

5th. Finger.

The smallest. We should pray for the 'little people' - other children we know.

There are some variations on this theme. For example, The first (Thumb) points to us. We should pray for our own needs. The fourth is the 'ring' finger. We should pray for family and friends. The fifth is the smallest. We should pray for the sick and helpless.

O.L. - Ask and you shall receive.

Jesus told us that some people don't receive anything from God, simply because they don't ask. Here is a simple illustration to help children understand that they should pray for their needs.

Write out on a piece of card or paper "-------------- (your name) wants to give away $1." Place it in a conspicuous place in your room before the lesson starts, but don't refer to it until the appropriate time.

Talk about how much our generous God wants to bless us and give us all our needs, but how some people don't receive from God because they don't ask. Remind them that Jesus said "Ask, and you shall receive" (Luke 11.9). By now one child might have really understood what you are talking about, and asked you for your dollar. If not, ask the children "Is there anyone here who wants to ask me for something?" Eventually someone should understand and ask for your dollar! "It is as simple as that. 'Ask and you shall receive.' "

O.L. - Break in communication with God.

All that is needed for this illustration is a piece of string or rope at least 1 meter long, and a pair of scissors.

Explain that the rope represents a line of communication. Start by stretching it out horizontally, and say that it could represent a telephone line, with your words going along the line to your friend, and their words coming back to you.

Now hold the rope vertically. Explain that this represents a prayer line to God, with your prayers going up the rope to Him, and His answers coming down to you. State that there is only one thing that can stop your prayers getting through to God - your sins (the bad things you do).

State that you are now going to demonstrate this problem by cutting the rope (Prayer line). Hold the top of the rope in one hand, and grasp the centre of it with the other. Bring the centre portion of the rope to the top, but as your bottom hand reaches your top, swap the centre for a piece of rope about 10 to 15 cm. from the top. This will take place behind your top hand, so will not be noticed.

With a little practice you will soon become proficient. It will appear to your group that you are now showing the top and the centre of the rope in your top hand, whereas you will actually be showing the top and a section 10 to 15 cm. below the top.

Cut the rope where it is looped. You have actually cut off just a small top portion, but have appeared to cut it in equal halves. While still concealing the top of the rope behind your hand, tie the small section of rope around the centre, and release for all to see.

Explain that the knot around the centre stands for sin, and prevents your prayers reaching God. Explain that some people try to deal with the problem themselves by reducing their sin. Cut the ends off the knot to make it smaller. Obviously this doesn't work, because the problem (knot) is still there. Explain that some people try to hide their sin. Cover the knot with your hand. This doesn't work either, because we cannot hide anything from God.

Explain that the only way to remove sin is to bring it to God, tell Him you are sorry for it, and ask Him to forgive you. Say, "Imagine my right hand is God, and I am going to bring this sin (knot) to Him." Hold one end of the rope in your right hand, and begin to wrap the rest of the rope around it with your left hand. As you reach the knot - and while still continuing the wrapping - slide off the knot, and keep concealed in your left hand. Unwrap the rope, showing that it has been completely restored! No one will notice that it is now slightly shorter than at first.