MEETING AIM: To understand that there is opposition to God’s good news, but we are equipped to respond.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Ephesians 6:10-20
BACKGROUND: The letter to the church in Ephesus covers a lot and as it comes to the end Paul turns to an aspect that is very direct and personal but which hints at a much bigger picture. This passage ends with prayer but the first part deals with what is often called ‘spiritual warfare’. There are two dangers when dealing with this. We can either end up seeing the devil, demons and evil everywhere and in every circumstance, or alternatively we can believe that they are nowhere. Different Christian traditions hold to different positions on this spectrum and hopefully your own will offer some guidance as to where your emphasis lies.
Start by inviting the group to share what they have been doing during the past seven days. As they share you might want to ask if they heard anyone outside of the church talk about prayer. You can mention that this session is about how Paul talks about life a Christian using a military metaphor.
You will need: chess sets
Begin by playing a game, or more, of chess. As the game is being played point out that each of the pieces moves in a certain way. They each have different moves and are therefore used in different situations. To win a game of chess you need to know how each piece moves and can be used. You probably wouldn’t be a very good player if you only knew how the pawns moved and not the knights. Explain that in today’s session you’ll be looking at all the different resources, or elements of battle, that Paul says a Christian has at their disposal.
You will need: a belt; a body warmer; a pair of wellies; an umbrella; a hat
Invite someone to be ‘strong in the Lord’ and volunteer to be dressed in the armour of God.
Read Ephesians 6:10-20. As you get to each of the items have the group ‘fit out’ their soldier of God. The body warmer represents the breastplate, the wellies are for the feet, the hat is the helmet and the umbrella is the shield.
Ask the group what they would name these non-military items? The body warmer of…The wellies of…Encourage them to go beyond the mere words and to explain their meaning. What is righteousness? What is the gospel? And so on.
Close by explaining that whatever our belief in the presence of evil, the metaphor of God’s armour is there to help protect us. Paul believed that God provided everything we need to overcome the opposition we face with regard to evil.
Use the following questions to start a discussion about the Bible passage:
- Continuing on from the exploring the Bible passage, discuss what each of the items represent.
- What do all these different things (truth, righteousness etc) look like in your life?
- What about the sword? What does that represent? What is the word of God?
- The very next section of this passage talks about praying in the Spirit. Praying and the Bible are closely linked. How often do you use Bible verses, or passages in your prayers? Is this something you should / can do more often?
You will need: sheets of A4 paper; a stapler; art materials
Explain that praying is important in today’s passage, although it is not described as a specific weapon. Prayer and how it works is something Christians have discussed since the beginning of the Church, and we still don’t really fully understand it. However, we are all encouraged to pray. Essentially, prayer does what we can’t do under our own skill and effort, whilst we still try.
Give everyone some sheets of paper.
Fold the A4 sheets in half and then cut them making two A5 sheets. Do this again so each person has four A6 size sheets. Fold these but don’t cut them this time. Put them inside each other making a little booklet. If you do this with another sheet of A4 you’ll end up with an A7 booklet of 32 pages including the cover.
Use the stapler to hold the booklets together. (You could bind them using a needle and thread. A simple loop will be sufficient at this size.) Encourage the young people to write their name and ‘Prayer journal’ on the front and to decorate the covers using whatever art materials you have provided.
Explain that this is their own private prayer journal. The young people should write what they are praying about at the top of each page and leave space below for them to record an answer or outcome. This will encourage prayer but also show how those prayers are answered.
Make sure you make and keep one too.
You will need: prayer journals from ‘Creative response’
Use the prayer journals you have just made. Give the group some time to add some prayers to their prayer notebooks. These are for their own personal use and will not be seen by others. Encourage the group to use these notebooks each day and refer back to them in future meetings.
Close with a simple prayer of thanks to God for fitting us with the protection we all require.
If you have time, create a large prayer journal for the whole group (make this from A4 paper or buy a scrap book). Use this to record everything you pray for corporately as a group. Come back to the group journal every session to add more prayers and see how God has answered prayers previously written in the book.
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