“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’
Then Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’”
Jesus stressed the importance of “go and do” in the parable of the Good Samaritan and continues the lesson with “how” to actually do it in this parable. Jesus demonstrates that being personal with God about our needs when we talk to Him in prayer is the way to receive all things that we need for life and godliness. Prayer “... gets us involved personally in the action of the God who acts personally in our lives. Prayer is action.” (Eugene Peterson, p 50).
A key verse that helps us interpret this parable is “... because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6, ESV)
Jesus’ parable shows that we are dependent on others (and God) for the very basics of life. That’s why it’s so important that we communicate our needs very personally and specifically. In this parable, we learn that Jesus doesn’t expect us to be perfect like Him. Instead, He expects us to be what we are--human--and it is ok to be “needy” before God and others. Our neediness is a key way that Jesus relates everyday life to the kingdom of God, and shows Him as someone who loves to give good gifts to His children. In His teaching on prayer and in telling this parable, Jesus prepares His followers to live faithfully in a world that doesn’t know God, but needs Him, by teaching them to ask God for what they need.
We can look out for the interests of others when we know God is looking out for us.
Ask a child: What are things you couldn’t live without? How do you get those things?
Ask a grown up: Has there ever been a time when you didn’t have something you needed? What did you do/who did you have to ask/how was this need taken care of?
(Hint: Think about Jesus’ teaching on prayer and be age-appropriately specific)
5 Finger Prayer Guide
Sometimes the idea of prayer can feel overwhelming to young children. So making the abstract idea of having a conversation with God into a simple and concrete expression helps put kids at ease knowing that they CAN talk to God!
A great way to start teaching them to pray is using a five finger prayer:
Family & Friends. Since the thumb is the closest finger to you, start off by praying for the people who are closest to you -- your family and friends, neighbors, team members and classmates, to name a few.
Teachers. The next finger is the index finger -- the one you use to point things out, like following the words when you are learning to read or pointing out locations on a map. This should remind you to pray for teachers and anyone else who is helping you learn and grow. Don't forget to include parents, small group leaders, coaches or instructors, doctors and counselors in this group!
Leaders. Your middle finger is the tallest, reminding you to pray for leaders and people who have authority. In addition to your pastor, you can pray for people in government and all other leaders to have wisdom to make good decisions for the people they lead.
Weak & Troubled. The fourth finger -- also known as your "ring finger" -- is the weakest finger. It can remind you to pray for the sick, sad and needy in your community and around the world. Anyone who is facing a problem can use your prayers!
Yourself. The pinky finger may be the smallest, but it's no less important than all the other fingers! Once you have prayed for all of the other groups of people, be sure to take time to pray for your own needs as well.
Use the 5 Finger Prayer Guide, and be sure to pray specifically for someone or something in each category today.