“Sharing Time: Prayer,” Friend, Sept. 1998, 12
When you need to know an answer to a question, whom do you ask? When you are hurt, who can help you? When you are sad, who can comfort you? In the scriptures, we read of men, women, and children who prayed to Heavenly Father when they had questions or needed help.
Joseph Smith was fourteen years old when he wanted to know which church to join. He prayed one morning in a grove of trees near his family farm (see JS—H 1:5–20).
Moses wondered about all of God’s marvelous creations. He asked questions about them on “an exceedingly high mountain” (see Moses 1:1, 30).
Enos had gone to the woods to hunt when he recognized that he needed forgiveness for his sins (see Enos 1).
Daniel lived in a busy city near the king’s palace. He prayed daily for guidance even though the law said that people who prayed would be thrown into a den of hungry lions (see Dan. 6).
Esther fasted and prayed because she was afraid to go to the king’s court to plead for her people (see Esth. 4–5).
Each of these people prayed for help. They believed that no matter where you are or what time of day it is, Heavenly Father can hear your prayer. The scriptures show us that Heavenly Father did hear their prayers and that He answered them.
One day after watching Jesus Christ pray, one of His disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus gave them the Lord’s Prayer (see Matt. 6:9–13; Luke 11:2–4). This prayer is a pattern for us to follow too. Jesus not only taught the disciples how to pray, He gave them a promise that their prayers would be answered. He said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7).
We can pray to Heavenly Father anytime, anywhere. Just as Heavenly Father heard the prayers of the people in the scriptures, Heavenly Father hears our prayers today, and He answers them in ways that will be for the best.
Use the following key to color-by-number the picture on page 13:
1 = flesh
2 = red
3 = black
4 = pink
5 = blue
6 = purple
7 = green
8 = light green
9 = yellow
10 = light blue
11 = brown
(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook)
1. Before you help the children memorize James 1:5, share with them the story of Joseph Smith’s First Vision (see JS—H 1:15–20; Primary 5 manual, Lesson 1, pp. 1–6). Point out the importance of James 1:5 in helping Joseph realize that Heavenly Father answers the prayers of His faithful children (see JS—H 1:11). Tell them that one of the first things missionaries learn when they prepare to teach the gospel is the story of Joseph Smith’s prayer. Missionaries teach investigators that they, too, can receive answers to their prayers about the truthfulness of the gospel. Invite a recently returned missionary to bear testimony of the importance of the Joseph Smith story in teaching the gospel. To help the children memorize James 1:5, invite five helpers to hold up items representing sections of the scripture: “If any of you lack wisdom, [large question mark] / let him ask of God, [picture of someone praying] / that giveth to all men liberally, [two hands outstretched in giving or a picture of the Christus statue] / and upbraideth not [picture representing scolding, such as a pointing finger with motion marks around it in a circle with a slash mark through it, like a no-turn traffic symbol] / and it shall be given him” [a gift, with wisdom written on it]. Use the items to help the children recite the scripture, then remove each item, one at a time, as they repeat it. Sing “On a Golden Springtime” (CS, p. 88, v. 3).
2. Tell the story of Daniel, emphasizing that he knew the importance of prayer (see Dan. 6). Use pictures from the ward library and sound effects of lions growling (often available in public libraries) in appropriate places. Bring some large sandals and ask a child to stand in “Daniel’s shoes” and tell how he/she would feel if he/she were Daniel and about to be cast into the lions’ den. Who would help him/her? Beforehand, write on separate pieces of paper some situations your Primary children might face that would require them to have courage to resist and choose the right (teasing newcomers, taking candy without paying, using bad language, cheating on a test, breaking someone’s toy, etc.). Select children to come up and stand in the sandals, choose a paper, and tell what a modern-day Daniel would do. Sing “Follow the Prophet” (CS, p. 110, v. 8) and/or “Choose the Right” (Hymns, no. 239).
3. Write each letter of the word prayer on a separate sheet of paper and post the sheets around the room. Have the children look for them, bring them forward, and stand with them in the correct order. Collect the letters. Read the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9–13). Explain that it is a pattern for how we pray. Help them understand the principles taught in Matthew 6:5–8, 14–15 [Matt. 6:5–8, 14–15]. Bear your own testimony of the importance of prayer. Ask for volunteers to tell about a time in the scriptures when prayer was important, or about an answer to prayer that has come to them or someone close to them. Have the pianist play a few notes of a song about prayer (see CS Topics Index), ask the children to guess what song it is; then sing it. Teach the younger children about how we pray by using the Lord’s Prayer and/or “I Pray in Faith” (CS, p. 14). Beforehand, prepare a piece of paper for each child, as follows: Divide it into four equal sections and print “Dear Heavenly Father” in the upper left quadrant, “I thank thee …” at the top of the upper right quadrant, “Please bless …” at the top of the lower left quadrant, and “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” in the lower right quadrant. Ask them to draw pictures of things they are thankful for and what they ask the Lord’s blessings for in the appropriate places. (Note: This activity could also be done on the chalkboard.)
4. Moses received great strength and wisdom when he called upon the Lord (see Moses 1). He saw the world and all the creations of God. Play a game of “categories” to hint at what Moses saw. List the following categories on the chalkboard: dogs, trees, flowers, birds, bodies of water. Give one person in each class a piece of paper and pencil and assign her/him to be the class scribe. Pick a category and for one minute have each class list words that fit in that category. Ask one class to read its list. Invite the other classes to add any items they listed that haven’t been mentioned. Do as many categories as time permits. Show the most important thing Moses saw by holding up a mirror and explaining that he saw each of us. The reason God created the world and everything in it is found in Moses 1:39—read and explain it to the children. Sing “My Heavenly Father Loves Me” (CS, pp. 228–229).
5. Ask the children, “Why would someone pray for a long time?” Tell them you need some help to teach about one of the longest prayers told about in the scriptures. Call on them to pull out of a large bag the following items, which you have collected in advance: a bow and arrow and a name sign—ENOS—to wear; a wordstrip—Words of my father; a picture of a large yellow sun; a black or dark blue paper with a moon and stars; a wordstrip—Sins are forgiven; a picture of Christ; a name sign—NEPHITE—to wear; a name sign—LAMANITE; a picture or model of the gold plates, or a Book of Mormon. Tell the helpers to stand at the side. Explain to the Primary that the helpers will form a tableau, or silent picture, as you read the story from the scriptures. Direct the helpers to step “on stage” as they hear their part read. Read Enos 1:1–19. The final “scene” should show that Enos was forgiven of his sins because of his faith in Christ, that he in turn prayed for both Nephites and Lamanites, and that the records were preserved. To finish the chapter, have the older children read along with you (summarize it for the younger children). Bear your witness that Enos’s prayer was answered. The records were preserved and revealed centuries later. Sing “For Thy Bounteous Blessings” (CS, p. 21).
6. Assign two adults to each tell one of these stories: the people of Limhi (see Mosiah 21), and the people of Alma (see Mosiah 24). Explain that Heavenly Father doesn’t always answer our prayers immediately or as we desire, and that they are going to hear an example from the Book of Mormon. Divide the Primary into two groups and have each storyteller tell his/her story to one group. Ask the storyteller to emphasize that although the people prayed earnestly, time elapsed before their prayers were answered. Choose a panel of “experts” (about 3 children from each side) to sit in the front of the room. Write “People of Limhi” and “People of Alma” on the chalkboard. Randomly pass out clues that have been previously prepared: For Limhi—(1) Fought the Lamanites and lost three times; (2) Cried to God; (3) The Lord softened the hearts of the Lamanites to ease their burdens; (4) Ammon arrived and taught the gospel; (5) Gideon advised the king to give the guards wine; (6) The people slipped out through a secret pass in the night. For Alma—(1) The people cried to God; (2) Those who prayed aloud were threatened with death; (3) The people prayed in their hearts; (4) The Lord made their burdens light; (5) A wicked priest of King Noah ruled over the people; (6) The Lord warned the people to get ready and caused the guards to sleep deeply. Have the children read the clues and let the panel decide which story is represented. Post the clues in the appropriate column; some clues fit both stories, so post them in the middle. Conclude by asking all the children how they can apply the principles taught in their story to their lives. Then sing “I Need My Heavenly Father” (CS, p. 18) or “If with All Your Hearts” (CS, p. 15).
7. For additional resources on prayer, see the following from the Friend: “Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” Apr. 1995, pp. 34–35; “Joseph Smith Asked Heavenly Father to Help Him Choose the Right,” Jan. 1997, pp. 12–13; “The Answer,” Feb. 1997, pp. 44–46; “The Lord’s Wind,” June 1997, IFC; “Choosing the Right Through Study and Prayer,” June 1997, pp. 4–5; “Kelly’s Prayer,” and “Prayer Puppets,” June 1997, pp. 18–19. See also Aug. 1996, IFC, pp. 14–15, 24–25, 28–29, 38–39.