Many of us, young and old, can avoid God sometimes when we are in need. We think either that he already knows our problem, so why bother him, or that for some reason he won’t answer our request. Persistence is a great life skill, and students should learn to apply it to their prayer life. God does listen, he wants us to ask for things we want or need, and the dialog can be fun!
Persistent Prayer Doesn’t Annoy God!
A Parable 12 Children’s Sermon: The Unjust Judge and the Helpless Widow
Scripture: Luke 18:2″8
He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Give me justice against my cruel neighbors who yell mean things and steal from me.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily”¦”
3″foot length of clothes line
Index cards, 1 for each child, plus 2 for yourself
Pens or pencils
On one of the index cards write the words SWING SET. On a second, write A+ ON MATH TEST.
Hold out your clothes line using both hands so students can see.
When we talk to God, we can imagine that we have a “line” directly to him. It’s sort of like this clothes line.
Give one end to the child sitting nearest to you. Hold onto the other end yourself.
Tell her: Close your eyes. God holds one end”¦ Our prayers are at the other end.
Shake the rope and ask the student holding the other end with her eyes shut:
Can you feel me at the other end of this rope? Yes. Because I’m alive and active! I’m God! You can’t see me, but you can sense me moving to and fro in your life!
Tell the student to open her eyes, then shake the rope. Close your eyes.
Now I can feel you! When you pray, it’s like you shake God’s rope. There isn’t a prayer that he doesn’t hear, see or feel. If you really, really wanted something from God, how hard would you shake this rope? Let the student shake the rope hard.
And for how long? Until she got an answer.
If we really really want something from God, we have to be like the old widow. We have to be persistent. It’s like we have to “pin ourselves” to God with our prayers and not let go of him until we get an answer.
Using two clothes pins, pin the index card marked SWING SET and to the clothes line followed by the index card marked A+ ON MATH TEST. Shake the clothes line a little so students can witness that the prayer requests stay in place.
When we “pin” ourselves to God with our prayer requests – when we’re really persistent and pray all the time – it’s like our prayers stay constantly before him. He constantly feels, sees, and hears our needs and desires.
When God answers prayer, he goes by these questions:
- What answer to this prayer will work toward creating a very old and wise person someday out of this child?
- What kind of a person would I like to meet at the gates of heaven and welcome into my home forever?”
Point at the swing set.
Sometimes our prayers are really self serving. But they can mean different things, coming from different children.
Let’s say one boy pins himself to God in prayer over a swing set. He’s from a very poor family; no one in his family has ever owned one; he’s grateful for all he has, but this is a huge dream.
Another boy has many friends in the neighborhood who have swing sets. He’s been a little jealous.
He’s rarely focused on the good things he has because he’s too busy thinking of these other kids.
“What would they think if I got a bigger and becer swing set than they have?!”
Two boys, same swing set. Two very different prayers. Which one is God most likely to answer with a “yes”? The poor boy with the huge dream or the average boy who wants to show up his rich neighbors? The poor boy with the big dream and the gratitude.
This isn’t to say that God gets infuriated with the other boy. He might just think that boy needs to learn something more cool than having a swing set. When we ask for things in jealousy or because of our big egos, God has a tendency of holding back. Those prayers generally don’t “stick.”
Gently undo the clothespin and let the SWING SET wish fly off the line.
It’s hard to be persistent when your driving force is vanity or jealousy. Kids who pray that way tend to get distracted easily. They don’t appreciate what they get”¦ Why would God give a swing set to someone who is going to use it to make others jealous or to build his ego?
Point to the A+ ON MATH TEST wish.
Here’s another wish that could stick or fly off, depending on the child. Depending on his motivation.
One child has been jealous of a sister who seems to get straight A’s with hardly trying. It’s just a sort of gift for her. He is a gifted soccer player, but he isn’t thinking of that. Instead of being happy for a person who has a gift, he wants to outdo her so he can say, “Ha ha!”
Another child’s parents have spent a lot of money to have him tutored in math. He wants to show them that their sacrifices and hard earned money are not wasted. He wants to feel that hard work will pay off in his life.
He wants his parents to be proud of him.
Which child is God more likely to reach out with great help to get his wish? The second one.
That child will be able to give God the most persistence.
Shake the rope a little. Note how the prayer doesn’t fall off as you speak.
Hardships come and “shake us up.” Life makes us feel dizzy sometimes, but we’re able to hold on to God in prayer, and be persistent, when our motives are good.
Pass out index cards and pens or pencils to all the students.
Think of something you really want. Write it down quickly.
Give them time to think and write.
Now let’s think about why you want that thing and see if your motivation will give you the persistence of the old widow in the parable.
Lead kids through a discussion of why they want the things they want.
If it looks like their reasons are vain (such as for more clothing or a new bedroom design), help guide them to the thought that the only reason they want this is to impress others.
Try to get students with vainglorious prayers to rethink. Explain to them that they probably won’t be able to
come up with a lot of persistence, and the prayer won’t “stick” if they are trying to outdo others.
If it looks like their reasons are keeping others in mind (to make parents proud or for someone other than themselves to receive a blessing), praise that highly!
If it looks like they’re asking for something personal with an attitude of gratitude and with humility, point that
Pin any prayers on the clothes line that touch everyone’s heart and seem pure in motive.
Once your prayer seems worthy, and once they’re not about building up yourself to look better, that’s when you need to become like the old widow. Pray lots! Beseech god whenever you think of it, which ought to be several times a day at least.
What should you do if you don’t get your answer right away? What did the old widow in the parable do? She persisted and kept after the judge.
Why did the judge finally give her her wish? She came before him a lot! She was annoying him with her persistence.
Why will God give you your wish? Are you actually annoying him with your prayers? No. But through your prayers, you have pinned yourself to him.
Hold up the prayer chain you have created with the rope, pins, and prayer requests.
Let’s remember this week to persist with God until we feel like we have annoyed him. If we stop praying, we didn’t want that thing bad enough, or we wanted it with wrong motives. If we keep praying, we will surely get an answer. The answer will be one that helps us become that older, wiser, spiritually mature person who can meet God in heaven and enjoy a wonderful eternity with him!