Exploring the story of Daniel and the Lions gives you a wonderful opportunity to explore the Christian practice of prayer. Daniel prays three times a day and doesn’t stop even when he knows it will have serious consequences for him.
We can explore with the children “What is prayer?” (Talking and listening to God) “Where do Christians pray?” (Anywhere) “When do they pray?” (anytime, every day,) “How do you pray?” (out loud or in your head, you can write prayers or draw prayers or as one boy told me – you can sing prayers, sometimes walking, sometimes sitting quietly, you don’t have to have your eyes shut and hands together) “What do Christians talk about when they pray?” (Anything! I usually suggest an outline of saying thank you, saying sorry and asking for help). And “why do Christians pray?” (Because they know God can help them, because that’s how they get to know God better).
Asking the children to write down everything they think they know about prayer first makes the basis for a great discussion and allows you to gently correct any misconceptions they may have.
Then they can imagine they’re Daniel. What do they think he would have said to God? What we would have said thank you for? What would he have asked God to help him with? With older classes you can encourage them to imagine they’re Daniel at different points in the story – can they empathise with him? What would he have been praying at that point?
As we’ve been exploring this story with several classes this term, it’s struck me that a lovely follow up to this, would be encouraging the children to think about what they’re thankful for in different situations. When life is fun but also when hard things happen. And encouraging them to think – who do they ask for help at different times? Who do they have to support them?