Wow! I can’t believe we are about to start the last week of school. What an unpredicted turn this school year has taken! Our family is happy to have a break, but we are already looking forward to returning to school in August! We miss our friends and teachers and want to see them again at school, but another reason is that our elementary school is undergoing extensive renovations right now and they are all supposed to be finished by August. The school is getting additional space, a brand new gym, an outside facelift, and a complete interior renovation too. So, we are very excited to see it in August!
In today’s story, Jesus’ followers are also looking forward to something – they are looking forward to Peter coming back to them. Peter has been imprisoned by King Herod, and the people are anxiously waiting – and praying – for his return.
Step 1: Read the Scripture
Acts 12:1-27 (New Revised Standard Version)
James Killed and Peter Imprisoned
About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.
Peter Delivered from Prison
The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his wrists. The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many had gathered and were praying. When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. On recognizing Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.” Meanwhile Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed. He motioned to them with his hand to be silent, and described for them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he added, “Tell this to James and to the believers.” Then he left and went to another place.
Step 2: Watch the Video
Watch this video together.
Step 3: Discussion
- Why was Peter in prison?
- What were Jesus’ followers doing while waiting for Peter to return?
- What happened in Peter’s prison cell?
- Why didn’t the other people believe Rhoda?
- Many of us are waiting for something right now. We might be waiting until stores are opened, or to get a hair cut; waiting to find out if a trip will be cancelled; waiting to see friends or family again. How does God help us during a season of waiting?
Step 4: Pray Together
Dear God: Thank you for the example of Jesus’ faithful followers. Help us to turn to you in a season of waiting and trust that you will guide us. Amen.
Step 5: Activity Time
Here are several choices for activities for this week’s lesson! Check out the links below for some creative ideas to help children practice prayer. ?
Pray for Others Bucket
Decorate a plastic container (like a large yogurt tub or disposable plastic cup) with words, stickers, and pictures that have to do with prayer. On popsicle sticks (or plastic spoons), have children write the names of people they can pray for. They can then pull different sticks on different days to help them pray for people in their lives. Click here for an example: http://melissasprojects.blogspot.com/2011/10/prayer-sticks.html
Five Finger Prayer
In our story, Jesus’ followers were praying constantly while Peter was imprisoned. Children are often eager to pray, but they sometimes need a little guidance learning how to do it and building their confidence to pray in front of family or friends. The 5-finger prayer can help.
For a fun way to practice praying for others, check out this activity!
Take care! I miss you all!