TEXT: Matthew 26:36-46
The students will be able to explain that God answers some of our prayers with a No.
BIBLE LESSON OUTLINE
Introduction: Make a large "Road Closed" sign from construction paper. Open your class session by asking your group to pretend with you that you are driving through a mountainous region when you see this sign on a barrier stretched across the road in front of you. Discuss what you should do, and why. Then liken this to times when God answers No to our prayers.
- Jesus knew that the time was at hand when He would be taken and crucified. He went to a place called Gethsemane to pray.
- Taking three disciples with Him, He prayed in great sorrow and heaviness, asking His Father if this cup could pass from Him, but adding that it should be according to His Father's will.
- He came back and found His disciples asleep, so went a second time and prayed the same prayer.
- Again He found them asleep, and went the third time and prayed the same prayer.
Climax: God answered Jesus' prayer with a No, and Jesus was taken and eventually nailed to a cross where He died for us.
Conclusion: God said No to His own Son for the blessing and benefit of the entire human race. If He had said Yes, there would have been no way we could be saved. Sometimes God must also say No to our prayers, either for our good or for the good of others.
Response: Your students will be able to describe Jesus' prayer and tell how that prayer was answered. They will recognize that sometimes God must answer No to our prayers, and will tell some of the reasons why this might occur.
There are very few recorded instances in the Bible where God said No when one of His children made a request in sincere, earnest prayer. The sinner cannot be assured of answered prayer unless it is a prayer of repentance. Those who are lukewarm or backslidden may hear God say: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3).
We might wonder, though, why God would ever say No to His own child, especially if it was a good thing that was being requested. The No is the result of God's wisdom. He who knows the end from the beginning and knows the individual better than that one knows himself, sees that the desired thing would not be for His child's good. A wise parent knows that many times he must say No to his child in order for that child to learn certain lessons, or to develop maturity; and God knows His children better than we know ours. Often it is difficult for the parent to say No; it may really pain him, but he knows it is necessary.
Think how it must have pained the heart of God to have to say No to His only beloved Son. It certainly was not for disciplinary measures—another reason for God's saying No. But there is yet a further reason why God may say No to those who are wholly committed to Christ and wholly submitted to Him: for the blessing and benefit of another. God said No to His own Son for the blessing and benefit of the entire human race. Had He quickly responded to the cry of His beloved Son to "Let this cup pass from me," there would have been no redemption possible for fallen man. Aren't we glad God said No?
- Prepare enough of the MOM WOULD SAY NO cards for your whole class (see Patterns). Have the students fill in the blank spaces with their answers. Write some of their answers on a chalkboard. Discuss a few of the things to which God might say No, and why.
- Pretend to be driving down a beautiful road when suddenly you have to detour because of a "Road Closed" sign. The sign doesn't say why the road is closed but you must obey anyway. Up ahead there may be a rock slide or perhaps the road is washed out. Compare this to our lives in that only God knows what is ahead. So, if He says No to any of our prayers we should obey Him and not try to get our own way.
- To help the children understand why God said No to Jesus' prayer, give each of them a copy of the YES, NO, WAIT coloring sheet (see Patterns). Supply the crayons, and have the children color Green in all the YES spaces, Yellow in all the WAIT spaces, and Red in all the NO spaces. When they have finished they will see a red cross in the middle of the page. Explain to the children that Jesus obeyed God because He loves us.
- For a fun reminder of this lesson, make a Twist-N-See for each of your students (see Patterns). Copy the patterns onto the front and back of 3-inch circles cut from tagboard. (Be careful to center the starburst on one side and to center the NO on the other side.) Punch holes at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions of the circles where indicated. Insert one 8-inch length of string in each hole and tie a knot. Twist the strings between your thumbs and forefingers while holding the strings taut. The Twist-N-See will twirl rapidly and the word NO will appear to be inside the starburst.
- Bring pictures from magazines of things that God says No to: cigarettes, beer, liquor, drugs, stolen goods, etc.
- What does it mean to "pray for God's will"?
- Give some reasons you think Jesus prayed this way.
- How do you think Jesus was feeling at this time?
- How did God choose to answer Jesus' prayers?
- What was Jesus' response to God's answer to His prayer?
- What would have been the result if God had not said No to Jesus?
- How should we respond when God says No?
- Do your parents ever tell you No when you ask for something? Why?
- Think about a time Jesus told you something that He wanted you to do (i.e., take a stand, make a restitution, etc.). Even though it was hard to do, do you think Jesus would change His mind about your doing it? What would He do to help you go through with it?
- What are some reasons why God might say No to one of our prayers? Is He being unjust? Why or why not? Explain.
- Make a paper-bag Prayer Puppet for each child (see Patterns). Cut out a copy of the pattern, fold on the lines as indicated, and attach to the bottom of a lunch-sized paper bag. Impress upon the children that even if God answers No to one of their prayers they can still be happy. They can know that God gives the answers that are best for them.
- Prepare a NO Apple for each student (see Patterns). Cut the leaf from dark green paper and the apple from red (or light green) paper. Put the tab of the leaf through a slit just below the stem and attach it in the back. This covers the worm so the children can't see it until they lift the leaf. Help them to read the front of the apple. Explain to them that many times they may pray and ask God for something without knowing that it really is not good for them to have, just like the apple. But God knows and when He answers No, they can believe that there was a very good reason, like the worm.
- The thought on this lesson to emphasize to preschoolers is how much Jesus loves them. He doesn't want anything to happen to them that would hurt them. Give each child a picture of Jesus and the children and let them color their copy as you teach the lesson (see Patterns). Compare Jesus' love to the love of protective parents who watch out for their children. Mommy must sometimes say No—no, you can't play in the street, no, you can't play with matches, etc. She tells us this because she loves us. Jesus does the same thing if we ask for something that is not good for us.
Use the overhead to show some things that we might want that wouldn't be good for us: a mountain of candy, five puppies, to stay up all night, Christmas every day, etc. Just as we can recognize the wisdom of saying No to these things, God knows when it is best to tell us No.
Have a skit of a child who is asking his parents if he can go on a trip with a friend. His parents say No. The child prays and asks God to have the parents change their minds and let him go but they don't change. After his friend is gone he gets the chance to work with a favorite uncle and earn extra money for a bike he has been wanting. He is now glad that he didn't go on the trip with his friend. An alternate skit could have the child wanting to go to a friend's house and is denied, but later learns that the friend has the chicken pox. This shows that God knows the end from the beginning.