Movie Clip Discussions

Meet The Parents (Understanding Prayer)

Dynamic ImageGoal: Students will understand what Jesus taught regarding prayer in His Sermon on the Mount.

Before Your Meeting:

  1. Before your meeting, gather a white board and dry erase markers or flip chart w/bold pens. You will be making a Top 10 List on the chart. You may want to pre-write Reason #1, Reason #2, Reason #3, and so on, allowing space for you to write in student ideas.
  2. Create “Small Group Question Cards” (see sample below). Each student will need a question card and a pencil during Small Group.
  3. Make copies of Matthew 6:1-13 in two versions (printed below).

    I know lots of people who pray well
    1) Never True
    2) Rarely True
    3) Sometimes True
    4) Pretty True
    5) Definitely True

    Praying is important
    1) Never True
    2) Rarely True
    3) Sometimes True
    4) Pretty True
    5) Definitely True

    People can and should pray however they want
    1) Never True
    2) Rarely True
    3) Sometimes True
    4) Pretty True
    5) Definitely True

    I feel good about how I pray
    1) Never True
    2) Rarely True
    3) Sometimes True
    4) Pretty True
    5) Definitely True

    I could use some help with the topic of prayer
    1) Never True
    2) Rarely True
    3) Sometimes True
    4) Pretty True
    5) Definitely True

Opening Statement:
Tonight we’re going to talk a little bit about prayer. Christians often mention prayer or praying. You see people do it at church; some people pray at home; sometimes you even see people pray in restaurants. Prayer can be confusing. Even people who follow Jesus and are committed to obeying God struggle with the subject of prayer. I’m interested to know what students think about prayer and what struggles they may have with the topic of praying.

Just for fun, let’s create our own “Top 10” list including the Top 10 reasons people might struggle with prayer. Think about it for a minute, what makes prayer difficult? Or, why might someone NOT want to pray? I’ll get us started:

(Write on white board or flip chart)

Reason #1 It’s hard to talk to someone who is invisible.

What else? What can make prayer a struggle?

Allow students silent thinking time, 10-15 seconds. If more than one student answers at a time just say, “Hold that idea, I’ll be right back to you…” and then return to students as you complete the Top 10 Chart. Don’t look to adult leaders for answers until you have at least seven student answers, this allows students the time to really think and perhaps dig a little deeper in their own opinions as they consider the topic of prayer.

HINT: You may re-ask the question occasionally to keep students on topic. Simply re-phrase: “What makes prayer hard?” or “Why don’t some people pray?” or “When is it difficult to pray?” or “How do people know what to pray?” You may include a few of your own answers. Be honest, setting an example for students which allows them the freedom and safety of being transparent or vulnerable.

When your list is complete, or even if you only get FIVE answers, wrap up the Top 10 List by saying something like this…

Introduction to Video Clip:
Prayer has been a part of my life for a lot of years. I have read books about prayer and I’ve been in Bible Studies about prayer, but sometimes praying is just hard. I feel like it’s something that I’m supposed to do, but I don’t always know HOW or WHY. Here’s a silly movie clip that I can relate to. It’s from a movie called Meet the Parents with Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro. Ben Stiller’s character is in love with Robert DeNiro’s daughter and they’ve been dating for about ten months. She finally brings him home to “Meet the Parents.” Ben plays Greg; the nervous, in-love house guest who wants to impress the parents of Pam (DeNiro’s daughter) and DeNiro plays a quirky dad who doesn’t automatically like Greg just because his daughter does. In this scene, the four are sitting down to their first family dinner together. Watch this.

If you are going by Scene Selection, chose Scene #5, “Dinner with the Folks.” This scene begins at 24:00. Or this clip is available to download and purchase from WingClips (as seen in the embedded video clip above).

Scene Script:

    Greg: Wow Dena, everything looks fabulous. I’ll tell you something, it’s such a treat for me to have a home-cooked meal like this. Dinner at my house usually consisted of everybody in the kitchen fighting over containers of Chinese food.

    Dena: Oh, you poor thing! What? There wasn’t enough food to go around, Greg?

    Greg: No, there was. We just never sat down like a family.

    Dena: Oh!

    DeNiro: Greg, would you like to say grace?

    Pam: Oh. Well, Greg’s Jewish Dad. You know that.

    DeNiro: Are you telling me that Jews don’t pray Honey? (To Greg) Unless you have some objection…

    Greg: No, no, no. I’d love to. Pam, it’s not like I’m some kind of Rabbi or something. I’ve said grace at many a dinner table. (Greg starts to stumble through a prayer) OK, Oh…Dear God. Thank You. You are such a good God to us; a kind and gentle, accommodating God. And we thank you, oh sweet, sweet Lord of Hosts for the smorgasbord you have so aptly lain at our table this day…and each day…by day…Day by day. Oh, Dear Lord, three things we pray: To love Thee more dearly; To see Thee more clearly, to follow Thee more nearly day by day…by day. Amen.

    Dena: Oh Greg, that was lovely.

    DeNiro: Thank you Greg. That was interesting too.

End the scene at 26.16 on the DVD counter.

Transitional Statement:
Ever heard anyone pray kind of like that? Have you ever felt like that? It can be tricky business praying out loud; especially in front of people who you are just getting to know, or if you feel a little bit intimidated by the people around you. Maybe they seem to know more about prayer than you, or perhaps they’ve been Christians for a long time. I can really identify with Greg at that moment. He wanted to pull it off and impress Pam’s parents.

Divide into Small Groups:
We’re going to take some time in our small groups now to look a little bit closer at this topic of prayer. (NOTE: You will need the pre-printed Small Group Question Cards and pencils for each student.)

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Small Group Opener Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What is your first memory of hearing someone pray?

  2. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Who is someone that you think does a good job with praying? Why?

  3. Discussion Exercise:
    I’m going to pass out to each of you a little self-test. There are just five statements on the card and you rate yourself on a scale of 1-5; 1 being “Never True” and 5 being “Definitely True.” I’ll give you two minutes to complete the card. If you get stuck or feel that more than one answer applies to you, just go with how you MOST OFTEN feel.

    Allow 2-3 minutes for students to complete the card. These are the statements to which students are responding:

    • I know lots of people who pray well.
    • Praying is important.
    • People can and should pray however they want.
    • I feel good about how I pray.
    • I could use some help with the topic of prayer.

  4. A FEW OF YOU: Who do you know who prays well, and what do you like about their style?

  5. SOMEBODY: Would someone share their response to the third statement?

  6. A FEW OF YOU: Two or three of you tell us how you feel about your own prayer styles.

  7. AROUND THE CIRCLE: If someone could offered you help on the subject of prayer, what might you ask them?

Transitional Statement:
The Bible talks about prayer a lot. There are over 400 references to prayer throughout the Old and New Testaments, but today we are going to look at just one of them. It’s in Matthew chapter 6 and I have printed out copies of verses 1-13 (optional) in two different Bible versions. Reading out of two versions of the Bible can give us a broader understanding of what the writer was trying to say when he wrote to his original audience.

(Optional- you can use just one translation if you like.) Two translations are printed below. Print them on separate sheets of paper making enough copies for each student to have their own. Pass out the NIV version first, spend time studying it (directions follow) and then follow the same pattern with The Message.

    Matthew 6:1-13 (New International Version)
    1″Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2″So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 5″And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

      9″This, then, is how you should pray:
      ” 'Our Father in heaven,
      hallowed be your name,
      10your kingdom come,
      your will be done
      on earth as it is in heaven.
      11Give us today our daily bread.
      12Forgive us our debts,
      as we also have forgiven our debtors.
      13And lead us not into temptation,
      but deliver us from the evil one.[a]'

    Matthew 6:1-13 (The Message)
    1 “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. 2-4″When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure—'playactors' I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. 5″And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? 6″Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. 7-13″The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

      Our Father in heaven,
      Reveal who you are.
      Set the world right;
      Do what's best— as above, so below.
      Keep us alive with three square meals.
      Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
      Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
      You're in charge!
      You can do anything you want!
      You're ablaze in beauty!
      Yes. Yes. Yes.
Let’s look at the first version in “NIV”.
  • Read it through and as you find “main ideas” just write them down in the margins of your paper.
  • Circle key words.
  • Circle any words that pop out at you or that don’t make sense.

After a few minutes, I will ask a few of you to share what you think Jesus is saying in these verses.

Small Group Questions:

  1. SOMEBODY: To whom do you think Jesus is talking? (At the beginning of chapter 5 we read that Jesus is addressing crowds of people while he sits up on a mountain side.)

  2. A FEW OF YOU: What are some of the “key” words you found?

  3. A FEW OF YOU: What seem to be his main points? (Give to the needy but don’t make a show of it. Pray, but when you do, go some place quiet, and don’t babble.)

  4. Let’s look at the second version, from The Message.
    • Read it through and as you find “main ideas” just write them down in the margins of your paper.
    • Circle key words.
    • Circle any words that pop out at you or that don’t make sense.

    (Small Group Questions Continued)
  5. A FEW OF YOU: What words pop out at you from this version?

  6. A FEW OF YOU: What do you think Jesus was trying to say?

  7. A FEW OF YOU: How might the people have responded or what would they have been thinking as Jesus taught them these things?

  8. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Name one person who has taught you something about prayer and tell us what you learned from them.

  9. AROUND THE CIRCLE: If you could change something about your prayer life, what would it be? Why would you change it?

  10. SOMEBODY: If Jesus were teaching us here today, what do you think He would want us to know about prayer? If it’s the same as He taught these people, how might He say it to us?

Wrap Up:
Jesus obviously wanted people to pray. In the same way that it was important for people to take care of the needy, it was also important to connect with God through prayer. The Bible talks about many occasions where Jesus went off to quiet places to pray. Even though He was fully God, He was also fully man and He was totally dependant on His intimate relationship with His father. We are meant to be totally connected to our Heavenly Father as well. In fact, Jesus even demonstrates a way to pray to the Father in verses 9-13. He shows us that we should:

  • Thank God for His mighty power.
  • Ask for His help to obey and demonstrate His kind of perfect love here on earth.
  • Ask Him to meet our needs (note, that doesn’t mean give us everything we want!)
  • Ask for His protection and strength to fight against sin and the grace to help us forgive people who hurt us.

People call this “The Lord’s Prayer” because the Lord Jesus prayed it to give us an example. Jesus was teaching us the basics so that we would know how to approach the Holy God. The awesome point in all of this is that the Holy God WANTS us to come to Him with the details of our lives. He wants to have intimate relationships with us and show us that we can depend on Him in every aspect of our lives. It’s not about making it sound good or impressing the people around you like we saw in the movie clip. It’s about a deeply connected loving relationship between you and your Father in Heaven.

Let’s take a minute to close by talking to Him now.

  • Who will start out by thanking God for His awesome character?
  • And will someone else ask for help as we try to love others the way God loves us?
  • Let’s have three different people pray for specific prayer needs that we know of.
  • And then we’ll spend a minute being silent. You can use this time to get right with God, confess if there’s stuff blocking your relationship and ask for help in fighting temptation.
  • I will close when we’re done.

Written by Teddi Pettee. Original video clip idea by Nate Swanson and Brad Jones


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.


  1. Edmane
    July 9, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Very good material about prayer for young people.

  2. Marin
    January 4, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Very useful resource on teaching on the topic of prayer. Thank you.

  3. Frannie
    November 7, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Awesome lesson, questions, and description!

  4. Yvonne
    November 14, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Great site and resourceful. Thanks !!!

  5. Brother Bear
    April 25, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Well thought out questions. A very needed topic for our students. Well presented.

  6. Reyna
    September 22, 2016 at 12:00 am

    So great, I cant wait to share this with the youth tomorrow.

  7. Nadia
    August 26, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Great lesson! Youth group is paying a bit more attention when using the video clip.

  8. Segundo
    January 12, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Thank you for your wonderful work. This is so helpful, may God continue to give you the strength to provide more teaching materials. I will be using this tomorrow.

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