RELENTLESS: Pursuing Christ At All Costs

Session 3: Bold In Prayer

 

PREP

What We Want Students to Learn: That prayer is the key to staying motivated to be on mission with God, especially in the midst of persecution.

 

Main Scripture: Acts 4:23-31

 

Session Snapshot: Your In the face of persecution, Peter, John, and their community of Christian friends prayed bold prayers. They didn’t shrink away from the people who were persecuting them. They didn’t talk about how unfair it was, or proclaim their innocence. They rejoiced in prayer, asking God to give them continued boldness in the face of those who were opposed to God and His ways. They prayed that God’s plan would be accomplished in their city, and that they would be a part of it. And God honored their prayers! This lesson will help remind your students that prayer is the key to staying motivated to be on mission with God, especially in the midst of persecution.

 

 

 

The Details

Who wrote Acts?

Acts has long been held to be a letter from Luke, a Gentile physician, to a man named Theophilus, possibly a benefactor of some sort.

 

When was Acts written?

There is some debate over when Acts was written. The suggested dates are between 70 AD and 80 AD.

 

What was the purpose for its writing?

The Book of Acts is a second letter to Theophilus that tells the story of the early Church following Jesus’ resurrection. The book begins with Jesus’ ascension and His command of His followers to proclaim the Gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The rest of the book traces this journey as the early church leaders proclaim the Gospel and plant churches.

 

The Main Point

The main point for this session is to focus on the response of the Jerusalem Christ-followers as expressed in their prayer. First, when faced with persecution, their first response is prayer. They prayed for Peter and John, and for what this newfound persecution would mean for their movement. But the heart of the passage is really verses 29-30. Here we see this community of Christ-followers living out a relentless faith. In the face of persecution, they stand firm. They did not ask God to take away the persecution, or to help make things easier. They asked God to give them boldness in the face of the persecution they knew would come. They recognized God’s mission at work and prayed that they would be a part of it.

 

The Takeaway

Your goal in this lesson is to really challenge your students to embrace a bold faith. Persecution will come. If they’re publicly identifying as Christ-followers it’s almost a given. And when it does, they have a decision. Do they shrink away? Or stand strong? Living a relentless faith is about standing strong. This kind of boldness is empowered by prayer. Seeking God’s strength and guidance through prayer is foundational to living a bold faith. This is the truth you’ll challenge students with.

 

Lesson Plan

The Lesson Plan contains three elements: an introductory activity called Getting Started; the Bible study section called Digging In; and an application-focused segment called Wrapping Up.

 

Getting Started

  • Student Book Pages
    • This lesson will utilize pages 21-25 in the RELENTLESS Student Book.
    • This activity will use pages 21 and 22.
      • To access the leader’s version of the Student Book, see the download section of your RELENTLESS lesson 3 web page.

 

Start

FIRST, read or have a student read the Session 3 Small Group intro on page 21. Ask if students have any questions, then direct students’ attention to the activity on page 22, and instruct a student to read the instructions. Explain that you’re going to play a game where students will see who can come up with the most unique answers for a few various categories.

 

THEN, explain the rules to your group. For each category, the goal will be to see how many truly unique answers you can come up with. (Answers only one student has.) There are three categories listed on page 21. (You can come up with a fourth on your own if you have time.) For each category, you’ll say “go,” and students will have 15 seconds to come up with as many different answers in a specific category as they can. (For example, for Athletic shoes, they may respond, Nike, Under Armour, etc.)

 

Once their 15 seconds is up, you get to see who has the most unique objects. Do this by calling on a volunteer to read his/her list out. If anyone else has one of the items listed, both the volunteer and the person who also listed the item must cross it out. Once the volunteer has read all of his/hers, call on a different reader and proceed in the same way. The winner is the person who has the most unique items in a category once everyone has read their list off. Move to the next category and proceed in the same way.

 

NEXT, once you’re finished, award a winner and ask some questions. Ask something like:

  • If you had more time for each category, say four or five minutes, how hard would this game be? How long could we go on?
    • Answers will vary.
  • What if you could use Google to come up with your answers? How difficult would it make it to have the most unique answers?
    • Answers will vary.

 

FINALLY, explain that the reason it would be so challenging if time weren’t an issue is that there are virtually limitless responses to some of these categories. How many kinds of cars are there in the world? You could go on forever! Begin to transition into the end of the activity by saying something like this:

  • As we continue to talk about living out a relentless faith, we have to talk about the idea of prayer. Some people can tend to think of prayer as one-dimensional. They ask God for stuff. And that’s about it. Others have a little bit more diversity to their prayer life. They may thank God for stuff in addition to asking. For lots of folks, this is the extent of their prayer life. This is a shame. There are a lot of different ways to approach God in prayer. (Kind of like there are a variety of different answers to the categories we just looked at.) What we’re going to learn today is that when it comes to living a relentless faith, prayer is essential. Let’s look at the role prayer plays in living a relentless faith.

 

If there are no more questions or thoughts, transition into Digging In.

 

 

Digging In

  • Student Book Pages
    • This activity will utilize pages 23 and 24 in the RELENTLESS Student Book.

 

  • Additional Instructions
    • You’ll want to make sure students have something to write with, and a Bible or Bible app.

 

FIRST, have your students turn to page 23. Explain that you’re going to look at another moment from Peter’s life, this one in response to persecution he and John experienced at the hands of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. Instruct students to turn to Acts 4:23-31. While they’re finding the passage, give the context for what’s happening in the story up to this point. Use the following bullet points if you choose:

  • Peter and John had been preaching about Jesus in the Temple. They had also healed a man. This caused a great commotion.
  • The Sadducees, the religious rulers of the time, had Peter and John imprisoned overnight.
  • The next day, there was a trial of sorts, where Peter and John were asked to stop talking about Jesus and/or performing healings in Jesus’ name.
  • Peter and John didn’t back down. They were released, but not before given warnings that more threats would come to them if they continued to preach about Jesus.

 

THEN, read or have a student read Acts 4:23-31. Once you’ve finished, direct students’ attention to the questions on page 23 and 24. Work together as a group to work through the questions, filling in the blanks as you go.

 

Part 1: Expect Persecution (vs. 23)

  • Why are we sometimes surprised when we face persecution due to our faith?
    • Answers will vary.

·      In John 16:33, Jesus says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”(ESV). In your own words, what does this mean?o   Help students see that Jesus told us to expect trials because of our faith. He didn’t say, “You might have tribulation.” He said, “you will.” Persecution shouldn’t be a surprise to us. In fact, if we’re living the kind of relentless faith Jesus called us to, it’s almost a guarantee.

 

Part 2: Respond In Prayer (vs. 24)

  • What kind of prayers did they pray in verse 24?
    • They acknowledge the threat (vs. 27)
    • They acknowledged God’s sovereignty over the threat (vs. 28)
  • Why do you think it is important to acknowledge persecution for what it is, especially among your friends who follow Christ?
    • Answer: First, as you’ve learned earlier in this study, persecution identifies us with Jesus. It’s something we can take heart in. Second, it’s easier to deal with something when you acknowledge what it is that’s going on.
  • What does verse 28 do to your understanding of the persecution you experience?
    • Answers will vary. Help them see that persecution doesn’t catch God off guard. God allows us to experience persecution because He knows that A) it strengthens our faith, and B) actually emboldens our witness.
  • What does this do to your ability to move forward in the face of persecution?
    • Answers will vary.

 

Part 3: Seek Boldness (vs. 29)

  • Why is it human nature to oftentimes shrink in the face of persecution?
    • Answers will vary.
  • Define what it means to be bold in general.
    • Answers will vary. Help students see that being bold means knowing the challenges and the risks facing you, but staying strong in the face of them, regardless.
  • Now, define what it means to be bold in your faith. What are some examples?
    • Answers will vary. Help students contextualize what it means to be bold in their faith by brainstorming 21st century examples.

 

Part 4: Don’t Lose Sight of the Mission (vs. 30)

  • The Christ-followers in this passage kept God’s mission in full view. Where do you see evidence of this in their prayer?
    • Answer: In verse 30, they acknowledge the miraculous work God was doing in the world. They are asking for boldness to play their role in God’s ongoing mission, the mission that was happening all around them.
  • How is it easy to lose sight of God’s mission when we’re being treated unfairly because of our faith?
    • Answers will vary.
  • Do you actively pray and ask God to give you boldness to be a part of His mission? Explain your answer.
    • Answers will vary.
  • What does being part of God’s mission look like in your everyday life?
    • Answers will vary.

 

Part 5: Look For God To Move (vs. 31)

  • Describe what happened as a result of this prayer.
    • Answer: The place they were gathered in physically shook; they felt an increased presence of God’s Spirit within them; God answered their prayer for boldness.
  • Why are we surprised sometimes when God answers our prayers? Shouldn’t we expect Him to answer?
    • Answers will vary.
  • How does living in expectation that God will make you bold impact your life and faith?
    • Answers will vary.

 

FINALLY, help students understand that in spite of persecution they experience, God is at work all around them. His mission is ongoing. And prayer is our power source enabling us to stay on mission with God. Say something like:

  • The prayer the Believers prayed in this passage is a powerful one. “Lord, give us boldness in the face of all this persecution so we can continue to play a role in your mission.” What would happen if you began to seriously pray this prayer? It’s a challenge I want you to consider as part of living out a relentless faith.

 

Make sure no one has anything else to add. Then transition to Wrapping Up.

 

 Home Stretch

  • Student Book Pages
    • This activity will utilize page 25 in the RELENTLESS Student Book.

 

  • Additional Instructions
    • None

 

FIRST, direct your students’ attention to page 25. Explain that you’re going to give them some dedicated time to pray the kind of prayer they just studied. Have them look at the three categories listed on the page. Remind them that prayer is the language of their relationship with God. Encourage them to have a time to pray dedicated prayers of boldness where it comes to these three categories.

 

THEN, instruct them to go find a quiet space to be alone. Encourage them to pray this prayer for each of these categories: “God, I pray that you would give me the strength to boldly impact

[insert category] for your name.” Encourage them to talk to God about what this looks like in their lives, and how they might struggle in these areas. Also, encourage them to listen to what God may be trying to tell them.

 

FINALLY, once kids are done, allow them time to come back together and talk about anything that is on their minds. If you don’t have any more questions, wrap up your time together with prayer.

 

Ask students if they have any questions or additional comments. Inform students of the devotions located on pages 35-42 in their Relentless Student Books. Provide them with a schedule or some structure as to when you would like for them to work through them.

  • The third devotion is on page 39 and works in concert with this lesson.

 

 Printable PDF 

Lesson_3_Leaders_Guide