Daniel and the lions' den is a familiar story for many adults and maybe for your children, too. Daniel is a historical figure and so much in the story of Daniel is supported by sources besides the Bible. Daniel himself serves as an encouragement to us to be faithful in our work on earth and faithful to God and His word. Even when it was risky, Daniel prayed to God and even when he was thrown to the lions because of it, God was with him. The story of Daniel does not promise that God will always rescue us from dangerous situations, but it reminds us God has already rescued us from sin, death, and the devil thru the work of Jesus.
Conversation starters: What keeps you safe while you're riding in a car? What keeps you safe when you're walking down steps? What keeps you safe when you're crossing the street? What keeps you safe when you're jumping on a trampoline? What keeps you safe when you go to the zoo and see lions or tigers?
Who keeps you safe and how? (answers can include parents, fire fighters, police officers, doctors, etc) but encourage the children to also see God as one who always works to keep them safe.
Lions are beautiful creatures, but they are also very dangerous. Have the children name things that are scarier than lions.
Some of the people in the story of Daniel were jealous of his success so they set a trap to get Daniel in trouble. What kinds of things do you get jealous of, what things do you want to have when you see someone else has them? How can you show them kindness and help them enjoy what they have and you don't? How can God help us not be jealous of what others have or help us better share what we have with others?
Reading the story: The story of Daniel isn't one you would find in a children's book. It's a real life story with scary moments. Our Sunday School material has an alternative reading for younger children. You can access that by clicking here if you would rather the story your kids hear now doesn't end with a lion attack. I put possible actions for reading the story in this document as well.
Follow-up questions: Daniel prayed three times every day! What do you think he prayed when he was in the lions' den? What do you pray for when you pray? When Daniel was put in the lions' den a big stone was rolled over the entrance and it was sealed. Can you think of another Bible story when a big stone was rolled in front of the entrance to a cave? What was discovered when the stone was rolled away (Easter!!!) Even if God doesn't promise to save us from every danger like he did Daniel, God saves us from sin, death, and the devil by Jesus rising to life! God sent an angel or messenger to protect Daniel, the Bible says God does the same for you! How does it make you feel knowing God loves you so much He sends angels to watch over you and protect you?
Activities: Using a phone or tablet, go through as many different pictures of animals as you can and have you children make the sounds of that animal. Using playdough or clay, have your child make the shape of something that is scary. All of us have things we are afraid of. In the Bible, God's people were in many scary situations. God is bigger and stronger than everything we're afraid of and He is with us always. Kids can crush the shape they made indicating God's strength over it. Do a joint parent-child scavenger hunt around the house looking for protective items like safety goggles, an oven mitt, a bike helmet etc. Let the kids explain how they keep us safe and remind them that God works through these items to protect us and guard us from danger.