For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3.16)
John 3.16 is a popular verse in the Bible. For many Christians it is one of the first Bible verses that one commits to memory. This verse is embedded in a larger story of when Nicodemus sneaks in the middle of the night to ask Jesus a question. John 3.16 is Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus’ questions. This is a wonderful verse to reflect on, but can be challenging to find creative ways to engage in the message of this story.
Below are ideas for interactive prayer stations focusing on the story of Nicodemus and Jesus and more specifically John 3.16. It was also the second Sunday of Lent, so some of the prayer stations incorporate Lenten themes as well. The interactive prayer stations are meant to be intergenerational. There are also stations designed for ages 2-4. (For more specific instructions on layout, purpose, design, and more ideas, you can view previous posts: Interactive Prayer Stations and Interactive Prayer Stations on Leadership.) You can see more pictures of these prayer stations here.
Interactive Prayer Station #1: Finding a Source
Materials: Candle, Pencils, Paper
I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121.1-2)
Read this several times. Are they words you can or wish to affirm in your own life? Where do you tend to seek your help; self, vocation, possessions, self-medicating, etc. How do they fail you, though you continue to rely on that source? How might you be reminded daily of God as your help?
Adaptation for kids: Read this several times. Write how you need God to help you. Make this your prayer.
take time to let this settle into you now . . . invite God to place this in your faith journey.
Interactive Prayer Station #2: Ending Dead-Ends
Materials: Heat resistant bowl, Candle, Pencils or wooden skewers, Note cards
Write down your regrets or disappointments about the way you lived your life of faith this past year. Burn the paper in the bowl. Use the ash of the burned paper to draw a symbol on the card to remind you of a new pattern of living you’d like to begin in this Lenten season. Close with this prayer . . . God . . . forgive in me what has gone wrong, repair in me what is wasted, reveal in me what is you.
Adaptation for kids: Think of ways you could do better or when you have done wrong. Write them down. Have an adult help you burn the paper in the bowl. Use the ash to draw a symbol of love.
all this to become part of you now . . . invite God to add this to your faith journey.
Interactive Prayer Station #3: Starting on Empty
Materials: Colored Sharpies, Candle, Paper
Blank page – if you could start with a clean slate what would you draw? Using words, shapes or symbols .. .
Where would you like to begin?
Who would you invite along for your journey?
How might the Spirit give birth to your spirit?
What comforts will you accept and which will you lose?
What do you see in this city that Jesus would weep for and where you might respond?
As you take note of the world, where have you been silent about which you may now choose to speak?
no adaptations for kids needed
reflect on the significance of this now . . . invite God to add this to your faith journey.
Interactive Prayer Stations for Toddlers: Nic at Night
Activity one: Those who can’t see use Braille to read. Braille are raised bumps that stand for letters of the alphabet. To read Braille, run your fingers along the bumps. Using your fingers, read John 3.16.
Materials: Using a braille font, I printed out John 3.16. I posted it on corkboard and poked in each dot a “dipped head applique pin” that you can find at any fabric store. This gave a raised braille effect.
Activity two: Nicodemus came at night to ask Jesus a question. He didn’t understand Jesus’ message. When Jesus talked about love, a light came on in Nicodemus. He finally understood. Have a parent read the story. Every time you hear the word LOVE click the light on. When you read a word in BLUE click the light off.
Materials: I printed out “Nic at Night for Preschoolers (John 3.1-17)” by Carol Hulbert. I provided a couple circular battery operated lights that easily click on and off. You can purchase them at any hardware store.
Activity three: Make a special Valentine for someone, reminding them that God loves them.
Materials: Markers or crayons. I also printed out this coloring sheet.