Teaching Kids About Prayer

The Sunday School teacher for the 3rd and 4th graders at my local church has had to take some time off this summer to deal with a medical issue.  While I wish she didn't have the medical difficulty, I'm finding tremendous joy substitute teaching the class.  We use a curriculum developed by Group. There's a pre-planed weekly lesson, a box of visual aids, and a bunch of matching NLT bibles. The material is okay, but I think my students are smarter than Group's target class.  Therefore, this week I added some additional information to the class and I think it went well.

Teaching this class has been good for me because I'm having to take the communication from a level I'm accustomed to in seminary down to a level that a 3rd grader can understand and find application.  That being said, I think this is the case even for teaching adults.

Here's my basic outline of last Sunday's class: 

The week's verse from the curriculum is "Never stop praying" --  1 Thessalonians 5:17

Illustration: "Who here has ever spoke to the President of the United States? How about any leader or king of any other country?  Well, I once met a former president and do you know what; I had to go through security, and I was assigned a time when I would meet him, and I could only talk with him for a second, and I probably won't every get to talk with him again.  What do you think it takes to get to talk to the President in the White House?  But did you know you can talk to the King of Kings, God?"

Bible chase game to find the scriptures that answer the following questions.

When should we (or can we) talk with God?
1. Psalm 5:3 (Morning)
2. Psalm 71:7-8 (All day)
3. Psalm 119:55 (Night)
4. Psalm 55:17 (Morning, Noon, and Night)
5. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (Always be praying)

How should we pray? 
1. (The previous week's lesson was to come boldly before God. Use this time to review last week's lesson than offer some more scriptures for the class to race to find.)
2. Matthew 6:9-13 (This is how he showed us to pray, discuss elements of prayer and remind the class that these are not requirements or rules, but Jesus teaching us.)
3. Colossians 4:2 (Alert mind and thankful heart)

How should we NOT pray?
1.  Matthew 6:5 (Is Jesus telling us that we shouldn't pray on street corners?  I opened our class in prayer and you saw me, is Jesus saying that I was wrong?  Maybe is Jesus talking about using prayer to show off and make it more about ourselves instead of talking with God?)

Where should we pray?
1. Daniel 6:10 (In our homes)
2. Matthew 6:6 (In private)
3. Acts 16:23-25 (In prison, hard times)
4. Jonah 2:1 (In the belly of a fish)

(Pause to explain the seriousness of stoning.  Give a background of Stephen's evangelism that got him into trouble.)
5. Acts 7:59-60 (Even when we are dying)
6. Luke 23:34 (Jesus prayed on the cross for the people putting him there)

When should we pray? How should we pray? (How should we not pray?) Where should we pray?

Prayer Walk
1. Explain what a prayer walk is and that prayer walking is not something that holds more or special power or anything like that because God hears us anytime, from wherever we are.  However, sometimes we are reminded to pray for people or things because we see them on our walk. And sometimes we'll even be able to pray with other people. (Also, this will reinforce the idea that we should always be praying and that we can pray anywhere.)
2. Go for a pray walk through the church building, stopping to pray as people feel led to do so.

Pray and Watch Reminder Cards
Hand out reminder cards and have the kids write 5 names of people they want to remember to pray for.  Tell them to put the card on the fridge or someplace they will see it often.  Every time they see the card, they should be reminded to pray for those five people. Then they should also watch for opportunities to serve those five people.

Give out weekly home fun and Bible memory verse handout.  Also give out coloring sheet with map and remind the kids that they can pray in all those places and anywhere, anytime.