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Meditating in the Wilderness (Temptation of Jesus 3)

August 27, 2010

This is a bonus lesson on the Temptation of Jesus.  If I were you, I would use it instead of In the Wilderness.  I like it more and it requires less computer time and printing.  But do as you will…

The lesson introduces students to the idea of meditation, particularly in the context of Lent.

Things to know about this lesson:

  • You might be skeptical about your students’ capacity for meditation. You might be surprised. I have found that children are often very receptive to structured silence – perhaps because quiet is so rare in their lives and they lack the ability to create it on their own.

Meditating in the Wilderness

Materials (optional)

  • plain paper and crayons/markers

Open with prayer.

Introduce the Story

If this is your first Lenten lesson, you may want to refer to the introduction of Staying Focused. If not, you may still want to refresh students’ memories with something like the following:

Who knows/remembers what church season we are in? (Lent)

What is Lent for? (Getting ready for Easter, thinking about God, thinking about temptation, trying to live right)

In today’s story, Jesus goes to the wilderness to pray and think about what God wants from him. He spends 40 days and nights there – did you know that Lent is 40 days long, too? We should use Lent the same way Jesus used his 40 days in the wilderness .

Read the Story

After Jesus was baptized, the Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus spent forty days praying and fasting – he didn’t eat or drink anything – and he was very hungry. The devil came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread so you can eat”.

But Jesus said to the devil, “The scriptures tell us that we do not only need bread to live; we also need every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem and stood him on the top of the temple and said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. After all, the scriptures tells us that ‘God will command the angels to care for you’ and ‘they will lift you up in their hands so that you do not hit your foot on a stone’”.

But Jesus said to the devil, “It also says, ‘Do not test the Lord your God’”.

Then the devil took him to the top of a very high mountain and showed him all the countries of the world with all their riches and said, “If you worship me, I will give the whole world to you”.

But Jesus answered, “Go away from me, Satan! The scriptures tell us, ‘Worship the Lord your God. Serve only God.’”.

Then the devil went away and angels came to take care of Jesus.

(Matthew 4:1-11)

Discussion

Who took Jesus to the wilderness?

What did he do there? (fasting and praying)

Does anyone know what fasting is? (giving something up for a period of time, like Lent – sometimes people choose to give up eating for a little while)

Why do people do it? (as a way to pray and to focus, to get ready for the work God has for them)

But why would Jesus go to the wilderness to do that? (to be alone and away from distractions)

Do you like to be alone sometimes? Why or why not?

Being alone and quiet sometimes is good for you because it gives you a chance to pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings and to God.

Introduce the Activity

What do we do when we pray? (talk to God)

Talking to God is very important but so is listening to God. Listening can be harder than talking, though, since God doesn’t usually speak to us in the same way as we speak to God. With practice, though, we can learn how to listen to what God tells us in our hearts.

For thousands of years, people have practised different ways to make themselves be really quiet so they could really hear God. This listening prayer is called meditation and it is what Jesus was doing in the wilderness to prepare to face temptation and begin his work.

We are going to try some meditating today. Ready?

Sit comfortably, in a position that you can stay in for a while without moving. You can close your eyes, if you want to, or you can keep them open.

Once we get settled, I will say a short prayer and then we will sit, still and silent, for a few minutes. If you get distracted with other thoughts, don’t worry. Just let the thoughts go and quiet your mind again, as many times as you need to. Meditating takes practice!

Meditation

Say the following slowly with lots of pauses (you may want to change the wilderness you describe to something that your students are likely to be familiar with):

Make your body still and quiet.

Make your mind still and quiet.

Breath deeply and slowly (model the breathing). Feel the air coming in and leaving your body.

(wait a couple of breaths)

Lord God, in this season of Lent we turn to you. We are sorry for all the things we have done that we should not have done. We are sorry for all the things we have not done that we should have done. Make us strong enough to resist temptation. Make us strong enough to stay focused on You. We know you listen to us – help us listen to you.

(keep silence for about five minutes)

Lord God, in this season of Lent we turn to you. Amen.

Regrouping

Invite students to stand and stretch. Congratulate them on their efforts, acknowledging that keeping quiet for that long is very difficult.

How did it feel? Did you like it? Why or why not?

Do you have any questions?

If you have time, you could hand out paper and crayons for people to draw their experience.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for silence.  Help us practice listening as well as talking to You.  Amen.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2010 9:14 am

    I got this.
    Pastor Roberts

  2. August 11, 2011 11:32 am

    I love this lesson plan! I’ve printed it out and made a few changes here and there (aimed specifically as my group of children’s ministry students), and I cannot wait to give it a shot within the next couple of weeks. I’m so happy that you delved into meditation as a way to teach about Jesus. Thank you so much for sharing!

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