Peter Escapes from Prison, Acts 12


Summary of Workshops

Drama Workshop: Children will act out the story. "Still photographs" will be taken and printed out to create a photo storybook.

Prayer Workshop: Children will learn about the different types of prayer, then go on an "Intercessory Prayer Walk" around the church.

Video Workshop: moderator added a video suggestion - "Paul & Silas" (Superbook Series) , see post for video summary.


Scripture References:

Acts 12:1-19
“An Angel Helps Peter Escape from Prison” (page 377-378 Little Kids’ Adventure Bible)
"Angel - Open Gate" (pages 711-713 The Picture Bible)

Bible Notes:
NIV Adventure Bible: Did you Know: How did Peter escape from prison? Page 1214
Little Kids' Adventure Bible: Did you know: How did Peter escape from prison? Page 377

Memory Verse:
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

Theme:
God wants us to pray. God hears and answers ALL prayers. God takes care of us.

Objectives and Life Application:

  • Children will locate the story in the Bible.
  • Children will define Acts as a New Testament book of history.
  • Children will retell the story in their own words.
  • Children will recall some of the major events of Peter's life.
  • Children will discuss the types of prayer: praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, petition and listening.
  • Children will discuss ways God answers prayers.
  • Children will discuss how God takes care of each of us and meets our needs.
  • Children will memorize 1 Peter 5:7.

Background Information:

Our Study so Far: Highlights from previous rotations…

What's in a Name?
When Peter first appears in the gospels, his name is Simon bar Jonah (Simon, son of Jonah). Jesus changes Simon's name to Cephas (Aramaic) or Petros (Peter - Greek). Jona means dove, while Cephas and Peter mean rock. Jesus is essentially saying to Peter, "Once you were just a flitting, fluttering dove. If you will trust me as your Lord, I will make you into a rock." As we have seen in our last two rotations (Peter's Denial and Peter's Restoration), Peter has not always acted "rock-like." Peter's name change is a reflection of who he would become, not who he already was. Each of us has a "next step" in our discipleship. As with Peter, God sees our potential and yearns for us to fulfill it.

Who is Peter?
We know a great deal about the disciple, Peter primarily due to his close relationship with Mark, the writer of the gospel. In fact, many Bible scholars believe Mark's gospel to be composed of a compilation of Peter's preaching and personality. The word "euthus" means immediately or straight-away and is used throughout Mark's gospel. Peter was a man of action, with a quick temper and impulsive nature, typical of Galileans. One who acts without thinking is prone to make mistakes. To Peter's credit, he does not hold back his many mistakes and blunders. Peter wants everyone to experience, as he has, the forgiveness and grace of Jesus and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter was a fisherman, in partnership with James and John. He was married and lived in Capernaum in Galilee. Peter quickly became a leader among the disciples. Matthew begins the list of disciples with "the first, (protos) Simon." Protos means first, but it also means chief. Peter was in fact the chief among the disciples. Peter also was part of the inner circle of three (Peter, James and John) who were closest to Jesus.

In our previous rotations, we have seen Peter experience a whirlwind of emotions…. from boasting about his faithfulness to Jesus ("Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." Matthew 26:35) to his denial in the courtyard of the high priest, to his restoration by Jesus on the beach…. then, with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we see a new and transformed Peter. Peter received power and courage – gifts of the Holy Spirit. Peter bravely proclaims the gospel and heals many in Jesus’ name.

What is Pentecost?
Jewish people celebrate a series of feasts or festivals throughout the year. At the Feast of Harvest, Feast of Weeks or Pentecost Jewish people were instructed to bring two loaves made from the wheat harvest and the harvest was dedicated to God as its giver. (Lev. 23:15-16) It is held exactly fifty days after First Fruits (Easter). Pentecost means 50 days. On this day the Holy Spirit came to the disciples bringing them the power of the Holy Spirit to give them strength to share Jesus’ message with the world.

Who is the Holy Spirit? What is the Trinity?
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), our "three-in-one” God. He is God. Like God, the Holy Spirit is eternal, present everywhere, and equal with God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit does exactly the things that Jesus did, for the Holy Spirit is Jesus, now with us. "We believe in one God. God has entered human history as Jesus. God's Spirit, the same Spirit that filled Jesus is in the hearts and minds of believers."

The Holy Spirit brings God closer, nearer to us, truly “God with us,” in a very intimate way. The Holy Spirit did not just suddenly appear on Pentecost. He has existed since the beginning with Father and Son. The Old Testament refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of the Lord.” (Other expressions used are the "Holy Spirit" and the "Spirit of Jesus.") In Old Testament writings the Spirit’s activity is more selective, descending specifically upon certain individuals to accomplish God’s work for a finite time. 

But the prophet Joel foresaw a day when God would say, 

“I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.”
(Joel 2:28-29)

In Acts 2, we see the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Jews at Pentecost. But God has a much bigger plan. In Acts 10, we see God’s ultimate plan of salvation unfolding. Peter's vision of unclean animals and his subsequent visit to the centurion, Cornelius is sometimes referred to as the Gentile Pentecost, as God pours out his Spirit upon the Gentiles. The early church was astounded to see the Holy Spirit come to the Gentiles. It was a radical reorientation of their understanding of God and themselves as God's chosen people. In the book of Acts we see the birth of the Christian church and its expansion to:
Jerusalem - Acts 1-7
Judea and Samaria - Acts 8-12
Gentile converts - Acts 10
The whole world - Acts 13-18

Our Story continues…
This month we see the increasing persecution of the Christian church. Luke (author of Acts) reports that the believers stayed in Jerusalem in spite of escalated pressure against the Christians (Acts 8:1). Life could not have been easy for them. With the martyrdom of Stephen a strong initiative to destroy the group known as "the Way" began in earnest (see Acts 24:14). The early church recognized that suffering is a part of the Christian life. Jesus does not promise that we will never suffer, only that he will be with us through it all.

Political Background
Palestine in the days of the apostles was ruled by Rome. The Romans assigned procurators or governors to maintain order in Palestine. They also used client-kings. A client-king had authority only as Rome dictated, but if the king was governing efficiently in the eyes of Rome, then he had freedom to govern as he wished.

The Herodians were client-kings. Herod the Great ruled during the time of Jesus' birth and was responsible for the slaughter of young boys. After his death, his kingdom was divided among his sons, Herod Archelaus (Matthew 2:22), Herod Philip (Luke 3:1) and Herod Antipas (Matthew 14:1, 2). (Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee at the time of Jesus' death.) Another of Herod's sons, Aristobulus, was killed for plotting against his father. Aristobulus had a son named Agrippa I, the ruler at the time of our story. Agrippa I ruled over the domain of Herod the Great from A.D. 40 until his death in A.D. 44. Just like his notorious family, he opposed the Christians, and engaged in numerous murderous plots and executions.

The Death of James
Our story opens with the death of James (the brother of John). Herod Agrippa orders James killed by the sword (possibly beheaded). This type of execution was used when someone was accused of leading people to follow false gods (Deut. 13:12-15).

The death of James pleased the Jewish leaders and boosted Herod's popularity with them. Emboldened by this and perhaps to further increase his popularity, Herod then determined to execute Peter as well. But it was near Passover and Herod knew he would offend the Jewish leaders if he executed Peter during this time. So, Peter was placed in prison under the guard of four squads of soldiers. (A squad consisted of four soldiers each.) Sixteen soldiers rotated in groups of 4 to watch Peter, who was also bound in chains. Two guards were chained to him in his cell while the other two stood guard outside the cell door. Obviously Herod wanted to make sure Peter could not escape. However, King Herod did not consider what God had in mind!

Peter in Prison - The Church Prays
Meanwhile, the church was earnestly praying. The death of James was a terrible tragedy. These were dark days indeed for the believers. Now Peter, the leader of the early church, was imprisoned and about to meet the same fate. The believers prayed earnestly and without ceasing. What did they pray? Perhaps they prayed for Peter's strength to endure, or for him to stay strong in the faith, and surely they prayed fervently for his release.

In the prison cell, Peter slept, chained between the two soldiers. An angel of the Lord appeared in the prison bringing a divine light, the presence of God's power, in the midst of darkness. Significantly, neither the light nor the words of the angel awakened the soldiers chained to Peter. The angel awakened Peter, telling him to get up quickly. As Peter obeyed, his chains fell off.

The angel led him outside. Peter followed, believing he was experiencing another vision or perhaps dreaming. They walked past the guards, who saw and heard nothing. They walked through an iron gate, opened again by divine power. Once Peter was safely on the street, the angel departed, his mission completed.

As Peter walked, he had time to focus on the events of the night. He realized his deliverance from the hands of Herod was no dream. It was very real. God had rescued him from the hands of Herod, bringing him from the brink of death to life!

Peter at the Gate
Peter walked to the house of Mary, mother of John Mark. Inside the house, the people were gathered together praying for Peter, oblivious to the fact that God had already answered their prayers! Peter knocked on the door and a girl named Rhoda heard and went to the door. Although Rhoda recognized Peter's voice, she did not open the door to let him in. Instead, overwhelmed with joy, she ran back to tell the others that Peter was outside, leaving Peter standing in the dark!

Now interestingly, the believers, who had been praying fervently for just this very thing, did not believe Rhoda. In fact they told her she was crazy. Or maybe it was an angel outside. Despite their earnest prayers, they showed no signs of believing that God had heard and answered! Peter remained outside the gate, knocking… Finally they must have heard him and opened the gate. And they are astonished to see Peter, safe and sound standing outside the door.


Note For Teachers About Prayer:
Prayer in its simplest definition is communication with God. When we pray, we spend time with God, learning more about Him and drawing closer to Him. When we share our needs and the desires of our hearts God hears. God hears all our prayers! God wants us to talk about anything at all! If it is important to you, it is important to God! Praying is like talking to your best friend, someone you love and trust. God will always listen to you when you pray.

Communication involves both talking and listening. Prayer also includes listening. God speaks to us in a variety of ways -- through Scripture, through circumstances, through the words of Christian friends and through our spirits -- as a quiet word or sense of peace or conviction. To hear God, we have to be still and listen… not an easy thing to do in our fast-paced world.

Types of Prayer
There are six types of prayer: praise, thanks, forgiveness (or confession), for others (intercession), for me (petition) and listening! (We teach this by using a visual of a hand with one finger for each type of prayer and a heart in the middle of the hand.)

  1. Praise (thumb) means to tell God how wonderful and awesome he is.
  2. Thanks (index finger) means to thank God.
  3. Forgiveness (confession - middle finger) means to confess (admit) the wrong things we have done and ask God for forgiveness.
  4. Intercession (For others) means to pray for the needs of others.
  5. Petition (for ourselves - pinkie) means to pray about our own needs.
  6. Listening (heart in center of palm) reminds us to be quiet and still and listen to what God might want to say.


Does God hear and answer prayer?
YES! The Bible is clear that God hears and answers ALL prayers. Does this mean that God gives us everything we ask for? NO! God loves us and wants what is best for us always. Sometimes God allows the consequences of our choices to teach us. Sometimes God answers with a "yes," sometimes a "no," and sometimes "wait." Always God has the "big plan" in mind, something that we cannot always understand with our limited human vision.

Through prayer we seek to know God's will and to position ourselves in a way to participate in what God is doing in the world. Then we must be willing to move when we hear from God. When God says, "go" the way is prepared! Peter listened and obeyed. And he was set free from the chains that bound him.
The church prayed for Peter's safety and their prayers were answered (although they didn't believe it at first!) It seems apparent that the church was not expecting this answer to their prayers… or at least not that quickly! How often do we pray for a miracle, then doubt that God can truly answer that prayer? We don't know what Peter's friends were praying, but surely his release and safety was foremost in their minds. Yet when Peter stood outside at the door knocking, they refused to believe it! What are the lessons for us here? Pray… fervently, earnestly and without ceasing. Believe that there is nothing God cannot do. Expect that God will answer. Be ready to move when God responds.

Prayer is the key…
Sometimes prayer is like a key that opens the way for God's help. God always has a way out of trouble, but we must ask him to lead us out. If we faced a locked door in the midst of darkness, we would reach for the key to unlock the door. Our part is to put the key in the lock. We cannot make the key, but we can use it. In John Bunyan's classic story Pilgrim's Progress he tells a story of two men, Christian and Hopeful, on their way to the King's country. They are caught on the grounds of Giant Despair and placed in a dungeon and threatened with death. Just before they are killed, Christian remembers his key, called Promise that will unlock any door. When he uses the key, the dungeon door and iron gate are unlocked and the prisoners went free.
Jesus has given us his promise, the key for any lock, but we must put the key in the lock. We do this by prayer. Prayer takes God's promise and fits it into the lock of our prisons -- our hardships, our troubles, our trials. God is able to release us without prayer, but he chooses this way, asking us to pray for the very things he has promised us.

Why does God allow suffering?
Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares for you. That is our memory verse for this month. God promises that he loves us and will take care of us always. Does that mean that God will never let us be hurt? No. We live in a fallen world. Accidents happen. People choose to do evil. Innocent people suffer. But through it all, God is sovereign. God, in ways we cannot always understand, uses these hard times and tragedies to bring about his plan for ultimate good. We may not always be able to see or understand the details, but we trust God to always know what is best.

Beth Moore, in her study Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy, writes that God always delivers us when we face fiery trials. Sometimes God delivers us FROM the trial. Peter was delivered from his prison cell and certain death. When we are delivered from a trial, our faith is built. Sometimes God delivers us THROUGH the trial. Peter's hardships included imprisonment and flogging and the death of his fellow believers. Through these sorts of trials, our faith is refined. It is proven and the "fake" parts of our faith are burned away. And sometimes God delivers us BY the trial and into his loving arms. Here our faith is perfected and made complete. As humans, we cling tenaciously to this life, to what we can see and hear and feel. It's difficult to remember this life is just a moment in the grand scheme of eternity.

Peter's Letters
Although we will not spend much time discussing them, we want the children to know that Peter was the author of two of the New Testament books, I and 2 Peter. These letters were written toward the end of Peter's life (probably around AD64) while he was in Rome and during a period of intense persecution of Christians under Emperor Nero. In his letters Peter encourages the persecuted believers to stand firm in their faith and to respond in love rather than anger when persecuted, especially when we are persecuted for doing what is right. He reminds us of Jesus' suffering and to recall how God used that suffering to bring about our great hope and salvation.

The rest of the story…
Although Peter escaped death in our story this month, eventually he was martyred in Rome. Church tradition holds that Peter was in Rome during Emperor Nero's reign, a time of intense Christian persecution. Fellow believers urged him to flee. While leaving the city, Peter had a vision of Jesus entering the city. Peter asked Jesus where he was going and was told he was going to be crucified. "Again," Peter asked. "Yes," Jesus replied. Peter turned around, going back to Rome, unwilling to let Christ be crucified again. He returned to Rome where he was arrested and forced to watch his wife crucified. Then Peter was crucified, upside down, as he did not feel worthy to die in the same way his Savior had.

Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:12-19 that "those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." We are to persevere, trusting that God is in control and is working everything out.. Victory for God's truth is assured. Evil may try to silence God's messengers, but the Lord will break the chains and spring open the doors so that the truth can run free. God requires us to understand that no matter what we face and how challenging the circumstances, God will make a way somehow! We may not understand when, or where or how, but we are assured that God will always work things out according to his good plan, his very GOOD plan.

Discussion Suggestions:

  • What happened to the apostle James? (he was killed by Herod)
  • What did King Herod do to Peter? (put him in prison, planned to kill him)
  • What did the believers do when Peter was in prison? (prayed)
  • How was Peter guarded? (16 soldiers, two chained to him)
  • What happened in the middle of the night? (angel came and set Peter free)
  • Where did Peter go? (Mary's house, where people were gathered praying)
  • What happened when Peter knocked on the door? (Rhoda answered, left him outside)
  • Why do you think Rhoda didn't let Peter in?
  • Why do you think the people didn't believe Rhoda? (didn't think it could be true, thought she was imagining things)
  • How do you think Peter felt being left outside?
  • What are the six types of prayer? (praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, petition, listening)
  • What types of prayers do you think Peter prayed while in prison?
  • What types of prayers do you think the believers prayed when Peter was in prison? After he was released?
  • Why do you think the people in the church felt the need to pray?
  • How do you think they learned that God answers prayers?
  • Do you believe that God hears and answers all our prayers?
  • How did God answer the prayers of the church while Peter was in prison?
  • How have you experienced God answering your prayers?
  • Why does God not always answer our prayers the way we want?
  • Have you experienced a sudden answer to prayer?
  • Have you experienced a time when God's answer was "wait?"
  • When was a time you suffered for doing the right thing?
  • How can we respond when we suffer unjustly?
  • When do you pray?
  • What makes it easier for you to pray? Harder?
  • How has prayer changed you?
  • What have you learned about God from this story?


Sources:

  • The IVP Bible Background Commentary - New Testament by Craig S. Keener,
  • Smith’s Bible Dictionary by William Smith, Christian Believer.
  • Knowing God with Heart and Mind Study Manual by J. Ellsworth Kalas
  • I Want to Know About the Holy Spirit, Rick Osborne and K. Christie Bowler, Zonderkidz, 1998
  • A Commentary on Acts of Apostles, 1863, J. W. McGarvey
  • Cleveland Bible Commentary on Acts 3, Sydney M. Cleveland
  • The Master's Men, William Barclay, Abingdon Press, 1959
  • Disciple II Into the Word, Into the World, Study Manual, Cokesbury, 1991
  • The 13 Apostles, J. Ellsworth Kalas, Abingdon Press 2002
  • Bible Teacher's Commentary, Lawrence O. Richards, Cook Communications Ministries, 2002
  • Richard's complete Bible Dictionary, Lawrence O. Richards, World Bible Publishers, Inc., Iowa, 1984
  • Acts for our Time, Charles Yrigoyen, Jr. Peter & Cornelius Lives Intersect - Acts 10:17-48
  • Christian Courier: Six Great Truths Cornelius Can Teach Us,
    http://www.christiancourier.co...nelius-can-teach-us;
  • "Why did God release Peter from Prison? 3-19-06,"Peter in Prison," 10-26-05, www.jesusisall.com
  • "Peter delivered from Prison, Lesson VL, "Peter Escapes Prison," Christian Standard Sunday School Lesson, October 30, 2005 by George S. Dillard III.
  • Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy by Beth Moore, Lifeway Press, 2006.

 

A Rotation from State Street UMC, Bristol, VA

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Original Post

Peter Escapes from Prison

Drama Workshop

For scripture, objectives, and background - see above.


Supplies:

  • Write the names of the characters on individual slips of paper.
  • lace in a basket.
  • Digital Camera
  • Copy of script (for older age group -- teacher will serve as narrator for younger age group)
  • Signs for each scene -- see below
  • Adventures with Peter storybook (from previous rotations)


Advanced Preparation:

  • Copy the script for the older age group.
  • Make signs for each scene (The Church is persecuted, Peter is thrown into prison, Escape, Mary's House, The Next Morning)


Lesson Plan


Early Arrival Activity:


Directions:
As children arrive, have them choose a slip of paper for their role in the skit. Next have them select costumes and props.

Opening:

Welcome the children and take time for introductions. Tell the children that today you will be learning about another of Peter's adventures -- when was thrown into prison and saved by an angel!

Opening Prayer
Please open with prayer. “Dear God, Thank you for this day and for the amazing stories in the Bible that teach us about you. AMEN.”

Important Teacher Notes:
Each workshop includes the Bible story. One of our primary goals is to improve the children’s Bible literacy! If children did not bring their Bibles from home, use the classroom Bibles. Shepherds should help the children locate the stories. Use the handout “Helping Children Learn to Use their Bibles” and the Background Information to help you introduce the story.

Remember that as the rotation progresses; the children will become more familiar with the story. When this happens, allow the children to tell you what they know. The children should still locate the story in their Bibles every week. Use the bold headings in their Bibles to guide your discussion. You may want to review some of the Bible notes as well. Be sure to fill in any missing information and add additional details using the Background Information to help you. One of the greatest advantages of this model is that children who come regularly learn the story in great depth.

Each lesson contains more Background Information and discussion questions than can be used in one session. Remember, children are studying this story for four weeks! Be sure to follow the time guidelines and leave ample time for the activity.

Dig:

Introduce the Story:
Last month we learned that God sent the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people. A soldier named Cornelius became a believer and the church spread to many more people.

This month we will learn about a very sad time for the early church. The Jewish religious leaders were not happy about the followers of Jesus. They did not believe that Jesus was truly the Son of God and they tried to stop the believers from worshiping and telling others about Jesus. Peter had already been in prison once (with John after healing the lame man), but now things are much worse. Let's see what happens….

Bible Study - Grades 1-3
Ask: Where in the Bible would we find a story about Peter and the early church? (Acts, New Testament)
Pass out The Picture Bible to each pair of children. Help them locate page 711. Read "Angel - Open Gate" on pages 711-713. (The Picture Bible is written in comic book form. The pictures should help the children visualize the story.)

Next help them find "An Angel Helps Peter Escape from Prison" on page 377-378 of the Little Kids' Adventure Bible. Read and discuss:
Did you know: How did Peter escape from prison? Page 377

Bible Study - Grades 4-6
Ask: Where in the Bible would we find a story about Peter and the early church? (Acts, New Testament)
Today’s story is found in the book of Acts. Acts is the only book of history in the New Testament.

Have the children locate Acts 12: Peter's Miraculous Escape from Prison in their Bibles. Assign volunteers to read as the other children follow along in their Bibles:

Review the following Bible note with the children:
Did you Know? How did Peter escape from prison? Page 1214

Discussion:

  • What happened to the apostle James? (he was killed by Herod)
  • What did King Herod do to Peter? (put him in prison, planned to kill him)
  • What did the believers do when Peter was in prison? (prayed)
  • How was Peter guarded? (16 soldiers, two chained to him)
  • What happened in the middle of the night? (angel came and set Peter free)
  • Where did Peter go? (Mary's house, where people were gathered praying)
  • What happened when Peter knocked on the door? (Rhoda answered, left him outside)
  • Why do you think Rhoda didn't let Peter in?
  • Why do you think the people didn't believe Rhoda? (didn't think it could be true, thought she was imagining things)
  • How do you think Peter felt being left outside?
  • What are the six types of prayer? (praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, petition, listening)
  • What types of prayers do you think Peter prayed while in prison?
  • What types of prayers do you think the believers prayed when Peter was in prison? After he was released?
  • Why do you think the people in the church felt the need to pray?
  • How do you think they learned that God answers prayers?
  • Do you believe that God hears and answers all our prayers?
  • How did God answer the prayers of the church while Peter was in prison?
  • How have you experienced God answering your prayers?
  • Why does God not always answer our prayers the way we want?
  • Have you experienced a sudden answer to prayer?
  • Have you experienced a time when God's answer was "wait?"
  • When was a time you suffered for doing the right thing?
  • How can we respond when we suffer unjustly?
  • When do you pray?
  • What makes it easier for you to pray? Harder?
  • How has prayer changed you?
  • What have you learned about God from this story?


Memory Verse
Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize the Rotation Memory Verse. Review it with the children at this time. Children will be recognized at the conclusion of each rotation for memorizing these verses. Children with their own Bibles should highlight the verse using the Bible highlighters provided. Please do not mark in the classroom Bibles.

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

Tell the children that Peter wrote two books in the New Testament, 1 and 2 Peter. These letters were written toward the end of Peter's life during a time of very intense persecution of Christians.
What does it mean to cast our anxieties on him?
Why do you think Peter wrote this?
How did God care for Peter?
How does God care for us?

(Older children might be interested in hearing the rest of Peter's story. See background information for additional details.)
Eventually Peter was killed. He was crucified (after being forced to watch his own wife be crucified first). Tradition says Peter asked to be crucified upside down as he didn't feel worthy to die in the same way Jesus had.

Drama - Prison Break!
Characters:
Narrator, Peter, King Herod, Rhoda, Believers, Prison Guards.

Props:
Costumes: basic biblical costumes, angel costume and soldier's costumes
Peter - chains
King Herod - crown
Guards - swords, helmets
Black foam core board cut to resemble prison bars
Spotlight

Directions:

  1. Quickly assign parts and get into costume.
  2. Children who do not wish to have speaking parts can move props and hold signs.
  3. Read through the script pausing to allow children to act it out. The script follows the text of Acts 12 very closely. Feel free to pause for discussion or to answer questions. The goal is deeper understanding of the story, not a polished performance.
  4. At the end of each scene, pause and take a still photograph that includes the prepared Scene Sign for the Adventures with Peter storybook.


Option for Younger Children:
Narrate the entire script allowing the children to act out in between the narration. Encourage them to repeat some of the shorter lines in the script.

Reflection:

The last 10 minutes should be reserved for Journal and Reflection time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what the children have learned. Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals and pencils/pens and the journal sticker for the day. (Note: Journal questions are color-coded for each age group – purple for 1-3 and blue for 4-6.) Workshop leaders and shepherds should sit down with children in small groups to facilitate discussion and writing in Faith Journals. Memory verse stickers are also included for each lesson. Children may also copy the memory verse and illustrate.

Journal Questions:
Grades 1-3: Draw a picture of Peter in prison.
Grades 4-6: What did you learn about God from this story?

Closing Prayer
Encourage the children to come back next week for another workshop, and to invite their friends. Remind the children of one word or concept from today’s session. Faith, prayer, trust, trials, persecution, angels are some possibilities. Ask for prayer requests and pray together.

Clean-up
Help Shepherd collect Journals and nametags and put away. Gather all the props and costumes and put them away. Please turn off air conditioner and turn out lights before leaving classroom.

Release children only to parents, older siblings, or by prior arrangement with parents.

After your rotation is completed, please:

  1. Remember to return all supplies to the storage areas in the classroom or the supply closet in the hallway. Please help us keep our rooms neat!
  2. Do you have suggestions on how to improve our lessons? Email Jaymie at jderden@chartertn.net.
  3. Return un-used journal questions and lesson materials (you may leave them in the classroom).
  4. If you need to be reimbursed, turn in your receipts to DCE office.
  5. Thanks for being part of our G.R.E.A.T. Adventure Team!
  6. Let us know if you would like to teach again or check the yearly schedule posted at the top of the stairs and sign up for the Rotation and workshop of your choice.

Script: Prison Break!

Scene 1: The Church is Persecuted, Death of James

Narrator: It was about this time that the church and followers of Jesus began to be persecuted. The Jewish leaders hated the believers and did everything they could to stop them. Now there was also at this time an evil king, called Herod Agrippa. He wanted the Jewish leaders to like him. What better way to become popular with the Jewish leaders than to arrest and persecute the Christians!

King Herod: Arrest and kill the apostle James with your sword.

Narrator: And just as Herod ordered, it was done. James, the brother of John, was killed. The believers felt terrible as you can imagine. How could something so terrible happen to James? But through their sadness, they continued to meet together, to worship God and to pray.

Not everyone was sad about James' death. The Jewish leaders were happy to see him gone. And King Herod was happy that the Jewish leaders were happy. He was getting more popular by the minute! If killing James made him popular, what would happen if he had Peter killed? After all, Peter was the leader of the church! Killing Peter would definitely make King Herod VERY popular with the Jewish leaders. But he also knew that it was Passover, the time of a very special feast for the Jews. The Jewish leaders would be angry if a killing took place at Passover. He would have to wait until after Passover.

Scene 2: Peter is Thrown into Prison

King Herod: Arrest Peter! Put him in prison!

Soldiers: Yes Sir! (walk off stage and drag Peter onto stage and into "prison")

Narrator: King Herod assigned four sets of guards to Peter. Two guards stayed inside the cell with him, chained on either side of him. Two were outside. The sets of guards rotated their watch. King Herod wanted to make sure Peter didn't escape!

(Soldiers chained to Peter and sitting on stage floor)

Narrator: Now the church was very upset about the news. They began praying very hard to God for Peter. They continued to pray….

The night before Peter's trial, while Peter was sleeping between the two guards suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a bright light shone in the darkness.

(Angel stands beside Peter and guards. Turn on spotlight.)
The angel touched Peter on the side and woke him up.

Angel: Peter, quick! Get up!

Narrator: Peter obeyed the angel. He stood up and the chains fell away.

(Peter stands up and the chains fall away. Rubs eyes as if trying to wake up.)

Angel: Quick! Get dressed and follow me.

(Peter puts cloak on himself and follows angel out of prison)

Scene 3: Escape!

Narrator: Amazingly, the two guards who were chained to Peter didn't wake up. The guards outside the cell didn't notice anything either. Peter and the angel walked right past them! Peter did not know what was really happening. He thought he must be dreaming.

Peter: This must be a dream… like the dream I had of the sheet with animals before.

(Peter and angel link arms and pretend to walk away)

Narrator: Peter and the angel walked out of the prison past the guards. They came to the iron gate that led to the city. It opened up for them and they passed through. They walked down one more street and suddenly the angel was gone.

Then Peter realized that he was not dreaming after all! God had sent the angel to save him!

Peter: Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel to rescue me! Praise God!

(Peter looks around for angel, then raises his hands to praise God)

Narrator: Peter hurried to Mary's house, where he knew the people would be gathered praying.

Scene 4: Mary's House

Narrator: Peter arrived at the house and knocked at the outer door. A girl named Rhoda heard the knock and came to answer the door.

(Believers kneeling on stage praying hard. Peter knocks on side of prop box and calls out in a loud voice)

Peter: It's me, Peter. Let me in.

Narrator: Rhoda recognized Peter's voice and she was overjoyed to hear him….but instead of opening the door to let him in, she ran back to the group.

(Rhoda moves to side of stage by prop box, holds hand to ear as if listening, then acts excited and runs back to church people who are still praying)

Rhoda: Peter is at the door!

Narrator: But the people did not believe Rhoda. They thought she was crazy!

Believers: What! You must be out of your mind!

Rhoda: No, really! It's true! Peter is at the door! I heard him. I would know his voice anywhere!

Believers: It must be his angel.

Narrator: But Peter kept knocking. Finally they opened the door and saw him. They were astonished!

(People act surprised, hugging Peter and bring him in to the center stage)

Peter: God sent an angel to rescue me. He filled my prison cell with bright light and the chains fell right off me. Then we walked right out of the prison and no one stopped us!

Scene 5: The next morning…

Narrator: Now the next morning, there was a huge commotion! The soldiers could not believe that Peter was gone!

Soldiers: How can this be? We were chained to him! It's impossible that he escaped.

Narrator: Herod was furious. He ordered a search for Peter but no one could find him. He was so angry, he ordered all the guards to be executed!

But the believers rejoiced that God had saved Peter. And they continued to worship God and to pray prayers of thanksgiving and praise!


The End….


 

A lesson from State Street UMC,
Bristol, VA, 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Peter Escapes from Prison

Prayer Workshop


Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will explore the different types of prayer and participate in a Prayer Walk.

For scripture, objectives, and background - see above.


Preparation and Room Set Up:

  • Review the background information sheets and lesson materials.
  • Gather necessary supplies.
  • Determine the stops for the Prayer Walk. Make note of any specific prayer requests at each stop.
  • Copy one handout for each child.
  • Cut apart the types of prayer into strips that will fit on the fingers on the handout.
  • Set out glue.
  • Display the Hand Prayer Poster where children can see easily.
  • Write out the six types of prayer, one per index card: Praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession (for others), petition (for me), listening.
  • Write a brief description of each type of prayer, one per index card.
    • Honoring God for who He is (Praise)
    • Thanking God for what He has done (Thanks)
    • Telling God we are sorry for wrong things we do, asking forgiveness (Confession)
    • Praying for others (Intercession)
    • Praying for myself (Petition)
    • Being quiet and still so I can hear God (Listening)
    4. Hide the cards around the classroom.


Supplies List:

  • Index cards
  • Markers
  • Hand Prayer handout (I have a Word document with this... but not sure how to attach here. Basically this is an outline of a hand with a heart in the center of the palm. The different types of prayers are printed out and can be cut out and glued to the fingers of the hand, or just written on them).
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Flip chart or white board
  • Markers


Please start on time!

Time Guidelines:
Introductions/Opening Prayer: 10 minutes
Bible Study: 15 minutes
Hand Prayers: 5 minutes
Prayer Walk: 15 minutes
Reflection/Closing Prayer: 5 minutes



Lesson Plan

Early Arrival Activity
As children arrive, invite them to play a prayer match game.

Directions:
1. As children arrive, invite them to search for the hidden cards.
2. Show the poster, then encourage them to match the types of prayer with their descriptions.
3. Explain that today they will learn how God answered the prayers of Peter and the early church.

Opening:

Welcome the children and take time for introductions. Please include the shepherd in introductions. Tell the children that today they will be learning about a time when Peter was in prison and God sent an angel to rescue him.

Opening Prayer
Dear God, Thank you for bringing us all here together. We thank you for the stories in the Bible that teach us about you. Help us to learn and understand more about you and your love for us. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Important Teacher Notes:
Each workshop begins with the Bible story. One of our primary goals is to improve the children’s Bible literacy! If children did not bring their Bibles from home, use the classroom Bibles. Shepherds should help the children locate the stories. Use the handout “Helping Children Learn to Use their Bibles” and the Background Information to help you introduce the story.

Remember that as the rotation progresses, the children will become more familiar with the story. When this happens, allow the children to tell you what they know. The children should still locate the story in their Bibles every week. Use the bold headings in their Bibles to guide your discussion. You may want to review some of the Bible notes as well. Be sure to fill in any missing information and add additional details using the Background Information to help you. One of the greatest advantages of this model is that children who come regularly learn the story in great depth.

Each lesson contains more Background Information and discussion questions than can be used in one session. Remember, children are studying this story for four weeks! Be sure to follow the time guidelines and leave ample time for the activity.

Dig:

Introduce the Story:
We've been learning about Peter for several months now. We've learned how Peter and the early believers helped spread the good news about Jesus to others. We learned that the good news was for everyone -- not just for the Jews, but also for the non-Jews. What are non-Jews called? (Gentiles)

But not everyone was excited to hear about Jesus. Not everyone believed his good news. The Jewish leaders tried to stop Peter and the believers from spreading the word. We already learned that Peter had been thrown into prison and beaten after he healed the lame man at the Temple gate. He was told to stop talking about Jesus. Did Peter stop? (No!) No, he kept on preaching about Jesus. The Holy Spirit gave him courage and power to share Jesus' love with others, everywhere he went.

This month we are going to learn about another time Peter was put into prison…. This time Peter was going to be killed. Let's see what happens….

Where would we find a story about Jesus' followers in the Bible? (New Testament) Today’s story is found in the only book of History in the New Testament. This book is called Acts or Acts of the Apostles. This book tells about what happened to Jesus’ followers after Jesus went to heaven. It is found right after the four gospels.

Bible Study - Grades 1-3
Ask: Where in the Bible would we find a story about Peter and the early church? (Acts, New Testament)
Pass out The Picture Bible to each pair of children. Help them locate page 711. Read "Angel - Open Gate" on pages 711-713. (The Picture Bible is written in comic book form. The pictures should help the children visualize the story.)

Next help them find "An Angel Helps Peter Escape from Prison" on page 377-378 of the Little Kids' Adventure Bible. Read and discuss:
Did you know: How did Peter escape from prison? Page 377

Bible Study - Grades 4-6
Ask: Where in the Bible would we find a story about Peter and the early church? (Acts, New Testament)
Today’s story is found in the book of Acts. Acts is the only book of history in the New Testament.

Have the children locate Acts 12: Peter's Miraculous Escape from Prison in their Bibles. Assign volunteers to read as the other children follow along in their Bibles:

Review the following Bible note with the children:
Did you Know? How did Peter escape from prison? Page 1214

Discussion:

  • What did the believers do when Peter was in prison? (prayed)
  • How was Peter guarded? (16 soldiers, two chained to him)
  • What happened in the middle of the night? (angel came and set Peter free)
  • Where did Peter go? (Mary's house, where people were gathered praying)
  • What happened when Peter knocked on the door? (Rhoda answered, left him outside)
  • Why do you think Rhoda didn't let Peter in?
  • Why do you think the people didn't believe Rhoda? (didn't think it could be true, thought she was imagining things)


Memory Verse
Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize the Rotation Memory Verse. Review it with the children at this time. Children will be recognized at the conclusion of each rotation for memorizing these verses. Children with their own Bibles should highlight the verse using the Bible highlighters provided. Please do not mark in the classroom Bibles.

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

Tell the children that Peter wrote two books in the New Testament, 1 and 2 Peter. These letters were written toward the end of Peter's life during a time of very intense persecution of Christians.

  • What does it mean to cast our anxieties on him?
  • Why do you think Peter wrote this?
  • How did God care for Peter?
  • How does God care for us?


(Older children may want to hear the rest of Peter's story. See background information for additional details)

Eventually Peter was killed. He was crucified (after being forced to watch his own wife be crucified first). Tradition says Peter asked to be crucified upside down as he didn't feel worthy to die in the same way Jesus had.

Hand Prayers
Introduce the Activity:
Brainstorm with the children:
What is prayer? (communicating with God, talking AND listening) Write down their answers on the board.
Why do we pray? (to tell God our feelings, express our needs, ask for help, praise God, say thanks, say I'm sorry, to get close to God, to learn more about God).

Sometimes we think that prayer is sort of like giving our "wishlist" to God. But prayer is more than just talking and asking for what we want or need.

Imagine your best friend. Now imagine that you never talked to him/her, never called on the phone, texted or talked on the computer. How long do you think you would stay friends?
Prayer is our way of staying connected with God. God loves us and wants more than anything to be close to us. Prayer is the way we get close to God.

Directions:

  1. Display the Hand Prayer poster. If children participated in the early arrival activity, use the cards to explain the six different types of prayer.
  2. Review the Hand Prayer Poster with the children.
  3. Pass out one Prayer Hand handout to each child.
  4. Have them glue the prayer strips to the fingers on the hand, using the poster as a guide:
    • Thumb - praise
    • Index finger - thanks
    • Middle finger - confession
    • Ring finger - intercession (for others)
    • Pinkie - petition (for ourselves)
    • Heart - listening


Note: Gluing the types of prayer in this order helps to reinforce that praying for our needs is not the only type of prayer we should offer.
Tell the children to keep the handout to remind them how to pray.

As children work, discuss:

  • What types of prayers do you think Peter prayed while in prison?
  • What types of prayers do you think the believers prayed when Peter was in prison? After he was released?
  • Why do you think the people in the church felt the need to pray?
  • How do you think they learned that God answers prayers?
  • Do you believe that God hears and answers all our prayers?
  • How did God answer the prayers of the church while Peter was in prison?
  • How have you experienced God answering your prayers?
  • Why does God not always answer our prayers the way we want?
  • Have you experienced a sudden answer to prayer?
  • Have you experienced a time when God's answer was "wait?"
  • When do you pray?
  • What makes it easier for you to pray? Harder?
  • How has prayer changed you?
  • What have you learned about God from this story?


Prayer Walk
(Adapted from an idea from Worship KidStyle, LifeWay Christian Resources, 2009. Additional information about Prayer Walks available at imbresources.org)

Supplies:

  • Post it notes
  • Markers


Advanced Preparations:
Choose several areas in the church for the Prayer Walk. Suggestions include:

  • Church Office - Ms. Renee
  • Crossroads Medical Mission office - Leslie, Cindy, Katie, Dr. Tim, Dr. Paul
  • Custodian's office (boiler room) - Peanut
  • Custodian's office (closet bulletin board) - Jackie
  • Senior Pastor's office - Pastor Mike
  • Associate Pastor's office - Pastor Sharon
  • Spring Garden Preschool Office - Mrs. Wilma and Mrs. Cindy
  • Nursery - Mrs. Doris, Ms. Bethany, Ms. Jocelyn, Ms. Rebecca
  • Youth Director Office - Paige
  • DCE Office - Mrs. Jaymie
  • Organist Office - Mr. Bob
  • Choir room - Mr. Steve


On a post-it note, write, "We prayed for you today" and sign it "G.R.E.A.T. Adventure 1-3 graders" or "4-6 graders."

Introduce the Activity
There are many people who work here in the church. Can you think of people here at the church for whom you would like to pray? Some have special prayer needs. Others would appreciate our prayers for their work, their families or friends. These types of prayers are prayers of intercession -- prayers for others. We can also pray to God, thanking him for the work that these different people do. What type of prayer would that be? (thanks)

We are going to go on a Prayer Walk and visit some of the offices and other places in the church. At each stop, we will take turns praying for the person or persons who work there or are presently there. Because there are many classes taking place, we will need to move through the halls quietly. When we stop to pray, we will need to whisper our prayers. Then we will leave a note that says, "We prayed for you."

Directions:

  1. Be sure to leave a note on the classroom door explaining that the class is on a Prayer Walk and will return at 10:50 a.m.
  2. Escort the children to the various areas you have selected. At each stop, encourage one child to pray out loud (quietly) for that individual. If children are reluctant to pray on their own, have them repeat a simple prayer after you.
  3. Return to the classroom no later than 10:50 a.m.


Reflection:

The last 10 minutes should be reserved for Journals and Reflection time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what the children have learned. Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals and pencils/pens and the journal sticker for the day. (Note: Journal questions are color-coded for each age group – purple for 1-3 and blue for 4-6.) Workshop leaders and shepherds should sit down with children in small groups to facilitate discussion and writing in Faith Journals. Memory verse stickers are also included for each lesson. Children may also copy the memory verse and illustrate.

Journal Questions:
Grades 1-3: Draw a picture of the early church praying for Peter.
Grades 4-6: When is a time you have experienced an answered prayer. Write a prayer, thanking God for that time.

Closing Prayer
Gather the children together in the center of the room. Review with them one word or concept that they learned in the lesson today. Prayer, faith, trust, prison, help, angel are some suggestions. Encourage the children to come back next week and bring their Bibles. Remind them to share the love of Jesus with others by bringing a friend to Sunday school, especially a friend who doesn’t have a church. Ask for prayer requests and pray together.

Clean-up
Help the Shepherd collect Journals and nametags and put away. Encourage children to help you clean up.

Release children only to parents or by prior arrangement with parents. Make sure parents sign their children out on class clipboards.
After your rotation is completed, please:

  1. Remember to return all supplies to the storage areas in the classroom or the supply closet in the hallway. Please help us keep our rooms neat!
  2. Do you have suggestions on how to improve our lessons? Email Jaymie at jderden@chartertn.net.
  3. Return un-used journal questions and lesson materials (you may leave them in the classroom).
  4. If you need to be reimbursed, turn in your receipts to DCE office.
  5. Thanks for being part of our G.R.E.A.T. Adventure Team!
  6. Let us know if you would like to teach again or check the yearly schedule posted at the top of the stairs and sign up for the Rotation and workshop of your choice.

 

A lesson by State Street UMC,
Bristol, VA,

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

I'm adding this video suggestion here under Jaymie's lessons as it ties nicely to her prayer focus for this story.

DVD - “Peter's Escape” (Superbook Series)petersescape

Chris and Gizmo send Joy on a round-the-world Holo-9 Virtual tour to 'help' her with her school geography project. As Joy sees scenes of hardship, she is overwhelmed by the state of the human condition. Joy wonders how anyone can help and make a difference.

In response, Superbook transports her, Chris and Gizmo back in time to meet Peter, Rhoda, Mary and other followers of Jesus, so that they may witness how the power of prayer can lead to miraculous changes. Acts 12:5

Lesson:

Prayer can have amazing power.

See Rotation.org reviews of the "Superbook" DVD Series for more details on this series link.

Luanne

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