Peter Freed from Prison

June 19 & 26 and August 7 & 14, 2005

Antioch Arcade


Scripture:  Acts 12:1-19


Memory Verse: “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.” — Philippians 4:6 CEV


Offering:  PC USA – Aid to Sudan



  1. God wants us to pray, and when we do God answers us.
  2. God provides help to those who serve and love God.
  3. Peter, who once denied knowing Jesus, went on to become an important preacher of the Gospel and an important follower of Christ.
  4. The church community prays for and takes care of its members.



1.     Older children will locate the story of Peter’s prison escape in their Bibles. Younger children will learn that the story is in Acts.

2.     The children will hear the story, and then play a game to review the details of the story.

3.     The class will discuss the story with emphasis on the concepts above.

4.     The children will think about their own prayer concerns, choose someone or something to pray for and make prayer ribbons.



Welcome and Introductions:  (10:00)

1.     Greet the children and introduce yourself.  Wear your name-tag. Make sure the children are wearing name-tags. If not, ask the shepherd to supply a temporary badge. Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week who may not know you.


2.     Open with a brief prayer (optional, as they have just prayed in Great Hall).


3.     Explain the purpose of this workshop. Today we’re going to hear the story of Peter’s escape from prison and then we’re going to play Freedom Bingo.


Scripture/Bible Story: (10:05)

1.     Grades 1-2 will not use Bibles, but do open yours to show them where the story is. For grades 3-5, make sure everybody has a Bible. The shepherds will have extra Bibles.  Help the students to find the book of Acts. (Get the shepherds to go around the room and help with this.)

2.     If necessary, review the organization of the Bible: The Bible is divided into two big parts, the Old and New Testaments. Each part is made up of books, which are divided into chapters and verses. Have them figure out whether Acts is in the Old or New Testament (it’s about events after Jesus’ life so it’s in the NEW Testament). Show them that if they open their Bible in the middle, they’ll usually land in the book of Psalms in the OT. Point out that the book name is at the top of each page. After finding Psalms, if they then take the pages on the right side and divide them in half, they’ll land somewhere near the beginning of the New Testament. Remind them that Acts is the fifth book of the NT, after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.


After they’ve found Acts, help them find chapter 12, then verses 1-19. Some of the children will confuse chapters and verses. Show them that chapter numbers are the big ones, and also are at top of every page.


3.     Read the story from the CEV or review it using the summary below as a guide. Either way, be dramatic! Unless this is the first Sunday of the rotation, let the children help you tell the story. This will give you an idea of how much they already know. Other ideas for reviewing the story in later weeks:


  • Begin the story and let each person in the circle add one line to the story until it is complete. Variation for older kids: Use the timer in the supply bin (or just a watch with a second hand). First child starts telling the story. After 15 seconds, second student picks up the tale, even if in mid-sentence. Keep going around circle until complete story is told.


  • Tell the story back to them with inaccuracies and let them correct you. (Especially fun for the younger ones -- but don’t do this until the later part of the rotation).


  • Older kids: Photocopy the passage (remove verse numbers), cut it up and see if they can put it back together correctly. If you don’t have a copy of the CEV, you can find it online at


Story Summary

Herod Causes Trouble for the Church

Several years after Jesus’ death, Jesus’ followers were spreading the good news and bringing people into the church.  At that time King Herod caused terrible suffering for some members of the church. (This was a different King Herod from the one we know about who reigned during the birth of Jesus.) Herod ordered soldiers to cut off the head of Jesus’ disciple James, the brother of John.


Then, while the Jews were celebrating the Festival of Passover, Herod had Peter arrested. He put Peter in jail and ordered four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to put Peter on trial in public after the festival. While Peter was being kept in jail, the church never stopped praying for him.

Peter Is Rescued

The night before Peter’s trial, he was asleep and bound by two chains. A soldier was guarding him on each side, and two other soldiers were guarding the entrance to the jail. Suddenly an angel from the Lord appeared, and light flashed around in the cell. (An angel is a messenger from God. We picture a winged human-like figure in a robe, but we don’t know what the angel looked like.) The angel poked Peter in the side and woke him up. Then the angel said, "Quick! Get up!"

The chains fell off Peter’s hands, and the angel said, "Get dressed and put on your sandals." Peter did what he was told. Then the angel said, "Now put on your coat and follow me." Peter left with the angel, but he thought everything was only a dream. They went past the two groups of soldiers, and when they came to the iron gate to the city, it opened by itself. They went out and were going along the street, when all at once the angel disappeared.

Peter now realized what had happened, and he said, "I am sure that the Lord sent his angel to rescue me." Then Peter went to the house of a woman named Mary.  Many of Jesus’ followers had gathered there and were praying.

Peter knocked on the gate, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. When Rhoda heard Peter's voice, she was too excited to open the gate. She ran back into the house and told everyone that Peter was standing there.

"You are crazy!" the others told her. But she kept saying that it was Peter. Then they said, "It must be his angel."  But Peter kept on knocking, until finally they opened the gate. They saw him and were completely amazed. Peter motioned for them to keep quiet. Then he told how the Lord had led him out of jail. He also said, "Tell the others what has happened." After that, he left and went somewhere else.

The next morning the soldiers who had been on guard were terribly worried and wondered what had happened to Peter. Herod ordered his own soldiers to search for Peter, but they could not find him. Then he questioned the guards and had them put to death. After this, Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.


Application: (10:10)

1.     Have the shepherd pass out the bingo cards and counters. Every card has a “Get Out of Jail” square— this is a free space, so the kids can cover that one at the start. Then call each question and let the kids call out the answer, then cover the answer on their cards. As in regular bingo, the object is to cover five spaces in a row, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

2.     When a player covers a row, he shouts I’m Free! Don’t stop the game; keep playing until you’ve used all the questions or everyone has covered a row (or you run out of time. Remember you need a bit of extra time at the end of the workshop for hanging prayer ribbons.)


Younger Children: Call out the questions in the order given, unless it’s a later rotation and you are sure they know the sequence of events in the story. Have the shepherd write each answer on the white board, as some of the kids may not be able to read all the words on the card.


Older children:  Mix up the questions, especially in later rotations. OR, instead of playing bingo, put the questions on slips of paper inside balloons. Divide the class into pairs. Let each pair pop a balloon (stomp on it). Retrieve the question, read it out loud and let them answer. (Do in pairs so if one player is afraid of popping the balloon, the other can handle it. Also less chance of child not knowing the answer and being put on the spot. If neither player knows, let the class answer. )


Reflection Time: (10:20)


Gather the class in a circle and discuss:


I wonder why Herod chose Peter to put in prison. Herod was persecuting the leaders of the church — remember he had already had Jesus’ disciple James killed — and Peter was an important preacher and leader of the early church. 


Who remembers the story we learned about Peter a few months ago, before Easter? After Jesus was arrested, Peter lost his courage and denied that he knew Jesus. Even though Peter failed Jesus that time, he learned from his mistake and went on to become one of the most important leaders of the early church, telling people about Christ and bringing new believers into the church.


While Peter was in prison, what were the people of the church doing? Praying. The early church community prayed for and took care of its members, and today in our church community, we still pray for and take care of each other.


I wonder what they were saying in their prayers. Accept all reasonable answers, but note that they were likely praying for Peter’s life to be saved.


If they were praying for Peter to be saved from execution, I wonder why they didn’t believe Rhoda when she told them Peter was at the door? Accept all reasonable answers. Encourage the kids to speculate about why they might be surprised to have their prayer answered so dramatically. Emphasize: God wants us to pray, and when we pray, God answers us. We won’t always get an answer as spectacular as they did, and sometimes we don’t get the answer we want or expect at all, but we can trust that God will be with us and help us no matter what happens.


Recite the Bible memory verse learned in the Great Hall. “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.” (Philippians 4:6)


Journals (10:25):

Pass out the journal pages and ask the shepherds to pass out pencils/markers. Optional: Give the children a scrap of ribbon or some other memento to paste on their journal page as a reminder of the workshop. Read the prompt out loud and offer suggestions if needed. (Prayer concerns can be personal or global —someone they know who is sick or in trouble, people who lack food or homes, a nation at war.) If they don’t know how to spell a word, write it on the white board. Those who finish early can turn the page over and do the activity on the back.


At 10:35, pass out strips of ribbon and markers. Tell the students to write one of their prayer concerns on their ribbon — one or two words to name a person or thing they will pray for.  


Closing: (10:40)


Take the class outside and let them tie their prayer ribbons to a tree near the door. If it is raining, collect the ribbons indoors and tell the class you’ll tie them to the prayer tree later.


Encourage the children to bring an offering next week. Remind them that the offering from this rotation will go to help people in Sudan who have had to leave their homes and have lost everything they own because of the war there. (Suggest that they also pray for the people in Sudan.) 


Close beside the tree with a simple prayer. Suggestion: God, we lift up these prayers to you in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


Tidy and Dismissal (10:45): Bring the children back inside and ask them to help collect Bibles, pencils, etc. When the room is tidy, dismiss the class.


Extra Activity if Time Allows:


Grades 3-5: Have the books of the New Testament posted on the wall. After reviewing the story, play a few rounds of "who can find the passage first." Call out verses for the students to search and read when they find them -- do this in pairs if you wish. Use these passages that refer to prayer:

Ephesians 6:18

Colossians 4:2

I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Philippians 4:6 (this is the memory verse for this rotation)

James 5:13


Teacher preparation in advance:


1.     Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.

2.     Prepare opening and closing prayers. 

3.     Choose a prayer tree outside of the classroom to hang the prayer ribbons.

4.     Optional: Bring a CD or taped music for background music while you are gathering, meditative music for Reflection time. A boom box is located in the Puppet workshop cabinet.

5.     Display the memory verse in the room.

6.     Practice telling the story and become very familiar with it..


Supply List


Extra Bibles

Bingo cards

Dried beans or other items to use as bingo counters

Pencils (in supply bin; the shepherds also have pencils)

Journal pages

Dry-erase marker (in supply bin)

Pieces of ribbon long enough to write on and tie to the tree

Markers for writing on ribbon



Jan Marshall, Lord’s Prayer lesson set, Ideas and Lesson Exchange.


Storytelling ideas:

Freedom Bingo Clues


  1. Bad guy in this story —Herod
  2. Time of year of this story — Passover
  3. Disciple whom Herod had killed — James
  4. Disciple who was arrested — Peter
  5. Who guarded Peter— Soldiers
  6. What Herod planned for Peter —Trial
  7. What fellow Christians did while Peter was in jail — Pray
  8. What was used to tie Peter up —Chains
  9. What Peter was doing when angel came — Sleeping
  10. What was seen when angel appeared — Light
  11. Where the light flashed —Cell
  12. Who came to get Peter out of jail — Angel
  13. Who sent the angel —Lord

14.  What Peter’s chains did — Fell off

15.  What Peter thought was happening when angel woke him up—Dream

16.  What the city gate was made of — Iron

17.  What the city gate did — Open

18.  What the angel did after leading Peter out of city —Disappear

19.  Owner of house that Peter went to —Mary

20.  What Peter did at Mary’s house — Knock

21.  Who answered the door at Mary’s house — Rhoda

22.  What Rhoda did when she heard Peter's voice —Tell others

23.  What the other Christians thought about Rhoda—Crazy

24.  How the Christians felt when they saw Peter — Amazed