Note to the Teacher
The scripture we read today is from the Book of James, and it talks about the power of prayer. The opening activity get students thinking about prayer by tossing paper into a trash can. The discussion questions encourage students to think about the power of prayer and the part faith plays. The activity allows students to experience the power of prayer by designing their own prayer stations. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: Tossing Up Prayer (10 minutes)
In this game, students will compete individually or as a group against one another to see who can make the most shots. If you are playing this game with a smaller group or online, have each student gather ten pieces of paper and crumble them into little balls. Place a trash can about ten feet away from each person (socially distanced if playing together in the same room) and tell the students that they are to make as many shots as possible with the ten pieces of crumbled-up paper. They get only ten shots, so once they’ve tossed the paper, it is either a point or not. At the end, tally the scores; then ask the recap questions below. If playing virtually, players at home are on the honor system.
If you’re playing this game as a larger group, you may choose to play in competitive groups such as high school versus middle school. Give each person a piece of paper (or more depending on how many shots you’d like each student to have). Make sure to put a cone or a chair ten feet from the trash can so each group knows where it must shoot from. When you say “Go,” students have two to three minutes to make as many baskets as possible. You may choose to give each group as many or as few shots as you’d like. At the end, tally each team’s score and ask the recap questions below.
- How hard or easy was it to toss a piece of paper into the trash can?
- Did you feel a sense of urgency to this game?
- Do you ever find it difficult to pray? Why or why not?
- Have you ever felt like you are just tossing prayers up to God? Why?
- What do you think is the purpose of prayer?
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today talks about the power and effectiveness of prayer. While we read our scripture verses today, listen to how James encourages us to pray and why we should dedicate our lives to prayer.
Read James 5:13-20.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- If you were to sum up James 5:13-20 in the length of a Twitter message, what would you say?
- How does James define prayer in these verses? How would you define prayer?
- What you think hinders people from praying more? What encourages them?
- Have you ever thought you had to say the right “Christian” words when praying? Is there anything you can’t say during prayer?
- James says that prayer will save the sick, meaning inclusion into the kingdom of God. How does this understanding vary from how we normally understand prayer?
- When is the last time you prayed deeply for something? What was it? (Note – be ready to listen to some powerful stories of prayer. Encourage students to share and listen to one another.)
- The first part of verse 16 says, “therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another.” Do you find this easy or hard to do? Why?
- Our scripture reading talks about a man named Elijah in verse 17. How long did he pray for it not to rain? Have you ever prayed for something for a long time? If so, what?
- Verses 19 and 20 talk about praying for our brothers and sisters. How often do you pray for your friends? Family members? Teachers? Pastors? Coaches? Others?
- In verse 20, how are we meant to understand the power of prayer? What does it mean to “save the sinner’s soul from death”?
- How can having a better understanding of the power of prayer change the way you interact and communicate with God and other people?
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
“Create your own prayer stations.” Depending on the size of your group and/or if you’re doing this online, you may want to put your group into teams to work on different prayer stations. The goal of this activity is for each student or group of students to create their very own prayer station. Here’s how it works:
- Ask students to think about who, what, where, why, or when does someone or something need prayer. (For example, you may have a group choose to do a prayer station for the start of the school year or the school. You may have a group decide to do a prayer station for teachers, or bullying, and so on.)
- Once your groups have their themes, have them find Bible verses or stories that could speak to their prayer station. Offer help as needed or allow them to use the tools around your space or internet searches.
- Have students gather any supplies they’ll need for their station. (For example, a picture of their school, book bag, cross, Bible, etc.)
- Have each group/student write a brief prayer that can be re-read by other students who come to the prayer station.
- After students have completed their prayer stations, turn on some soft music and invite students to walk around to experience and pray at each station.
After everyone has had the time to go through each station, encourage students to continue in a mindset of prayer as they conclude today’s lesson.
Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.
Total time: 50 minutes
- 1 to 10 pieces of paper per person
- Trash can or bucket (1 per person or group)
- Pen or pencils
- Whiteboard or posterboard
- Prayer station supplies will vary.