Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. We here at “Word For Life Says” want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons. May God bless you!
November 1, 2015
“The Power of Prayer!”
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. You are always encouraged to do your own personal studies as well. Blessings!)
***Due to the amount of writing projects I have before me, I have only written an overall summary on this week’s subject instead of a verse by verse interpretation.
Reading: Acts 12
Acts 12:1-11 (base verses)
- “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
- And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
- And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
- And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
- Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
- And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
- And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
- And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
- And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
- When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
- And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.”
Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Why is that? Because as breath is with the body, with each inhale and exhale one’s life is sustained; so is the prayer line that fosters that interpersonal relationship between God and man. It is not only life-sustaining, but it’s soul-sustaining keeping that glorious love connection betwixt the two opened and flowing.
Prayer is and of itself a discipline where one places themselves at the feet of the Almighty; to draw to Him; to get to know Him more. Yet, prayer is often as well a plea of desperation when the times and trials of this life are too hard to bear. When we are at the end of our rope; or, when we just don’t understand what is happening or the road we should take – we pray.
We pray because deep within ourselves we know that try as we might, we can find no better help. Nor, is there any higher intervention than that which comes from God. Therefore, through prayer we seek the release of His help and power into our problems, our lives, and the lives of those whom we intercede for.
Prayer is, and becomes, that connective key where God and man meet to converse on an intimate level, recognizing His greatness and sovereignty in the midst of our humanness and weaknesses.
And, this is what the church was hoping for when they offered up prayers on behalf of Peter who was now in prison. By this time persecution was not a new thing to the church. Throughout the Book of Acts we study and see uprisings against the faith. The idea of the church enduring hardship was not going away any time soon. As a matter of fact, I plead with you to look at our present world a little more carefully for in it you will see the many struggles of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ appear in one form or another.
In the chapter prior to this, Peter stood before the Jewish Christians giving a defense for why he went to the house of Cornelius. Here in Acts 12, the church stands at the defense of Peter through prayer against the attacks of Herod.
Herod Agrippa I is the enemy they are currently dealing with. And, if his name sounds remotely familiar it may be due to his family background. Following in the horrific footsteps of those who came before him: Herod Antipas (who beheaded John the Baptist; he was also this Herod’s uncle), and Herod the Great (who was responsible for killing the Jewish babies at the time of Jesus’ birth), this Herod was bent on the destruction of this new following; this new church. He, thinking to please the Jews that were against this church as well, went after the founding members thereof.
It was one thing for some to go after and kill the Stephen’s of this world (so to speak), but when one starts taking shots at pivotal leaders, surely they believed this would cause this institution to fail bringing to nothing the new movement of these Christians.
James, one of Jesus’s original disciples, was killed in the process by the sword (beheading, some say). Then, seeking even more favor among men, Herod proceeded further in attacking and imprisoning Peter, intent on bringing him to trial after the Passover (called “Easter” in this text). His hope was for the same devastating results that took James’s life.
But it was not to be so. Although one life was over the movement was not.
The Bible tells us, “Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him,” (Acts 12:5). This is the epitome of what it means when the Psalmist declared, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD. . .” (Psalm 121:1-2a).
Pain was taking place in the church but hope was not lost because their hope was not in the circumstances that surrounded them – their hope was in God who reigned above them.
Therefore, they prayed!
Don’t tell me prayer doesn’t matter; that it doesn’t make a difference. Yes, it does! God will literally make chains fall off and set captives free through the power of prayer (as He did for Peter here).
Unbeknownst to Peter, God heard their prayers and He was working on his case. Peter, shackled and asleep between two soldiers, was about to experience a miraculous breakthrough of a lifetime. He may have been appointed to be kept under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each; but, Peter had just one God that would step in and free him from their midst.
See, it doesn’t matter how bad they have you wrapped up, God can break through it all. It doesn’t matter how many chains and shackles the enemy will try to place on you, prayer to the right Source; to God alone, will free you from their hold.
Peter was getting an up close and personal lesson in this area. God sent an angel to come to Peter in the night. With light filling the prison house the angel stood before Peter and aroused him from his sleep by hitting him on his side.
He spoke, “Arise up quickly,” (Acts 12:7). And, immediately his chains fell off. At this point you’ll have to excuse me because this is when I begin to hear those lyrics ring out by Tasha Cobbs that sings, “Break every chain, break every chain, break every chain!” (Quote Source: Metrolyrics.com).
Through the initial intervention of prayer God was literally breaking chains off of Peter to set him free! You have to get happy about that and feel it in your spirit what God wants to do for His people. God will move and instruct His heavenly hosts to work on your behalf as He did for Peter through the power of prayer.
Remember this, he was bound in such a way so that something like his getting out miraculously couldn’t happen in the first place (according to man anyway). Let me take your mind back to Acts 5. There the apostles were thrown in prison for preaching Jesus when in the night God sent an angel to open the doors to the prison and set them free to go back to His work.
They who arrested Peter this time probably thought that he was securely theirs. There was no way a “miracle” could set him free. But, I am here to tell you never, ever underestimate the power of God. He can do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20).
The church was praying corporately and God was listening attentively, and He was working it out. When the shackles fell from his hands, the angel then instructed Peter to get himself together and put his shoes on and to follow him (Acts 12:8). Peter, not sure what was happening, followed his instructions and went out with the angel in front of him. He thought what he was seeing was a vision (Acts 12:9).
Verse 10 tells us, “When they were past the first, and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.” Amazing!
You have to admire the beauty of it all coming together. God not only freed him, but took him past one enemy, and then another enemy. He took him through the prison and out the huge iron gate unknown to anyone. This blew my mind. None of the enemies had a clue to what God was up to in freeing Peter. I don’t know if they were all in a heavy sleep or not, but God did it. He freed Peter.
Once outside in the street, in the place of proposed safety the angel left. His mission was over. Peter stood and realized, “Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews,” (Acts 12:11). He knew his deliverance couldn’t be attributed to nothing but the hand of God at work in his life.
But, let us not detract from the gist of this lesson. Peter’s freedom was spawned through the prayers of the church. Yes, God could most certainly move without the intervention of anyone. But, here in these verses a special note was made to stand out that when they prayed; when they got together collectively and on one accord to seek for Peter’s freedom, that’s when the miracle happened. God wants us to know the importance and the power of prayer. He said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,” (Psalms 50:15).
Later, Peter arrived at the house where many were gathered together praying and at first they didn’t believe it was him. They thought it was his angel. Needless to say they were more than astonished than ever when they realized it was really him, alive and well and standing before them.
Peter declared to them how God had delivered him, (Acts 12:17). When daybreak came those who bound Peter didn’t know what happened and paid for it with their lives. Herod, too, would soon face an untimely death for refusing to give glory to God (Acts 12:23), but the word of God and the growing of it would not be stopped. “The word of God grew and multiplied,” declares Acts 12:24.
Prayer was a huge key at work in the moving and miracles of the first century church and it should be a huge key at work in our current lives and ministries as well. Paul later teaches, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting,” (1 Timothy 2:8). There is never a wrong time or place to pray. And, when you pray – BELIEVE! Believe that He hears, and believe that He will answer as He sees fit.
Your prayers DO make a difference. There is power in prayer! “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11).
God made the impossible happen for Peter and He can do so in the church today. People can be freed. Chains can be broken. Ministries can flourish through the power of prayer. Prayer never hurts anyone, but it can always help.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit,” (James 5:16-18).
What can you do through your prayer life?
Trust and believe that your prayers are never wasted; that there is power in prayer. Prayer can reach where physically we cannot. Prayer can go behind the veil into the throne room of God. Think about that for a second and let it sink in. Didn’t the book of Hebrews tell us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)? This is done through prayer.
We are not alone in this life. Our way of viewing things and situations can become impaired in our day to day struggles. We may feel like we don’t have power to do anything; as if we are in the dark, but prayer offers a light of hope.
Whether falling on our knees or reverently and silently offering up with the heart pleas and thanksgivings to God, your prayers matter.
We serve a God who wants to hear from us and invites us to pray.
We will never know all the ins and outs of why God answers some prayers immediately, and why with some He chooses a different course. But, I do know this; prayer is never wasted, nor is it a waste of time. God hears each and every petition. He’s paying attention to the cause of His people. Don’t be discouraged if it seems like it’s not coming through for you like you want it to. God may have a greater course of destination in mind. Just hold on, keep the faith, and never stop praying. There is power in prayer!
(Click here for PDF: The Power of Prayer Sunday School Lesson, or click print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: Power of Prayer Draw the Scene
Comic Strip: Power of Prayer Comic Strip
How Many Words?: The Power of Prayer How Many Words
Below are more Activities/Links/Resources for this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Peter Escapes from Prison” (Here you will find lesson helps in this teachers guide to sign language “Pray to God,” “Escape at the Gate” craft, “The Chains Fall Down” game, and more. Enjoy!)
Prayer activities from a previous lesson:
“The Lord’s Prayer Coloring Sheet” (Younger students)
“Prayer Bear” (Cute! Cute! Cute!)
“Bible Lesson: Ask, Seek, Knock” (Wonderful object lesson)
“Knock, Knock. Who’s There?” (Links to printables and group activities. Enjoy!)
“Prayer Chain Craft” (A simple, easy and affordable project to throw together for your students. A prayer chain becomes an easy, take home reminder of different request students can pray for one another about. Example below. Enjoy!)
“Prayer Pocket” from Ehow.com
“Prayer” from Msss (several options to choose from)
“Prayer” from Kids Sunday School (several options to choose from)
“My Prayer Book” from Toddleractivitiesathome.com (This cute prayer book is made in the shape of praying hands – wonderful idea!)
“Prayer Garden” from Two Shades of Pink (Very creative use of paper and popsicle sticks to make a prayer garden!) Mssscrafts also has a printable Flower and Vase that you can use for the same concept. Enjoy!
“The Jelly Bean Prayer” from Church House Collection (Very easy coloring page that also teaches colors. Extra bonus of a treat if you can find real jelly beans this time of year to go with it. Enjoy!)
“How 2 Pray” Coloring Page from Ministry to Children
“Connect the Dots Praying Hands” from Kids Sunday School
“The 5 Ws of Prayer” from Sermons4kids
“God’s Cell Phone” from Sermons4kids
“Prayer Pail” from Lubirdbaby.com (This is a wonderful and easy way to help kids to remember to pray for different family members and situations. Very creative!)
“Prayer Mats” (Students can make their own prayer mats with remnants if carpet or fabric and markers to decorate. Sometimes the local dollar store will have square patches/mats to use. Enjoy!)
“God Can Hear Me” (You’ve got a good, old fashioned game with prayer relevance for today’s lesson. Two cans or cups and long string and you have a wonderful way students can explore their prayer life with God. Enjoy!)
“Prayer Sticks” (Popsicle sticks become inspiration for prayers. Write different prayer request on each sticks and use them as prayer prompts. Visit site for more details. Enjoy!)
“Jesus Pillow Craft” (Decorate a bedtime pillow case in a way that will remind the students to pray for others. Sometimes cheap pillow cases can even be found at your local dollar store. Click here for more details. I would like to try this one with my class. Enjoy!)
“Why Pray?” Object lessons and activities.
“Prayer Jars” (Go to this site and click until you get to slide #4. There you will see this wonderful idea of creating prayers jars titled: “From Me to Jesus” and another one “From Jesus to Me.” I absolutely agree with the sentiments of this site host: how awesome it would be for every Sunday School class to have a row of prayer jars lined up in it. Enjoy!)