Praying and Asking
God doesn’t always answer prayer in the way that we expect
by Alexandra Palmer
Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools
To explore Christian beliefs about prayer and to consider unexpected answers to prayers.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the YouTube video ‘Pigeons – cute animation cartoon’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 4.28 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIlIVFBBbNw
- Explain to the children that you want them to use their imaginations and think about metaphors.
- Ask the children what a metaphor is.
The word ‘metaphor’ is defined in the dictionary as ‘a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable’ or ‘a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else’.
- Explain that you are going to show the children a video that shows three baby pigeons, or squabs, sitting in their nest, chirping for food and hoping that their parents will feed them. When their parents don’t arrive, the squabs decide to sort out the situation themselves. They leave the nest and things almost go wrong. When they do return to the nest, their parents return and feed them.
- Ask the children to pretend that the squabs chirping for food represent Christians praying to God. Their parents are a metaphor for God.
Show the YouTube video ‘Pigeons – cute animation cartoon’.
- Point out that in the video, the squabs are chirping, but the parents don’t come back, so the squabs try to sort things out themselves. This is a bit like us talking (praying) to God and then going off and trying to sort things out ourselves.
In the video, the parents eventually come back to feed the squabs. In the same way, God might not answer our prayers straightaway, but he will always listen and answer eventually – even if we don’t get the answer that we expect!
- Ask the children to put their thumbs up if they have ever asked their parents for a particular birthday or Christmas present or given their parents a list of presents that they would like.
Ask the children if they have ever asked for food, drink or anything else that has resulted in them receiving something.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Christians believe that God will always take care of the things that they need, but that it’s important to pray and ask God.
There is a verse in the Bible (Mark 11.24) that says, ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’
- Ask the children to put their thumbs up if they have ever thought that they might not get the particular present that they wanted, so they have tried to solve the problem themselves. Perhaps they have dropped big hints or offered to do jobs around the house in the hope of persuading their parents and getting their own way.
- Explain that sometimes, God thinks that it is good for us to wait for an answer to our prayers. However, we can try to work things out ourselves and sometimes get ourselves in a mess doing this – just like the squabs did in the video.
Time for reflection
Ask the children if they have ever hoped for a particular present and then ended up getting something far better than the thing that they had imagined. Suggest that this might have been because the giver knew them very well, so they knew what the receiver would like most and what would be best for them.
Point out that at the end of the video, the squabs look disappointed with the worm that their parents give them. They had been hoping for a cake! However, their parents knew what was best for them. They were just little squabs and they needed a diet that would help them to grow strong and healthy.
Christians believe that sometimes, they pray for things and God doesn’t give them what they have asked for because he knows what’s best for them. Sometimes, just like when we are given a present that we didn’t ask for, God will surprise us with something totally different and it ends up being the best thing ever.
Thank you for all the presents that we receive.
Thank you that we have people who love and care for us and know what we need.
Thank you that we can come to you and ask for things that we need.
Thank you that we can trust you to know what is best for us.
‘Our God is a great big God’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaXPXWBcE3I (3 minutes long)