How do you help teenagers develop a passion for prayer that moves it beyond a “wish list” or a “duty” to a passionate connection with God? Here are three ways.
1. Fall In Love with Jesus
Try This! ❯
Connect with a student this week who’s dealing with tough stuff. Sit and listen, then PRAY with them and gently point them to the Psalms that cry out “How long, O Lord?” and “Why?” Model how to pray through fear and frustration to faith.
The more deeply your students fall in love with Jesus, the more passionately they’ll connect with Him on a regular basis through prayer. Mountain top experiences like retreats, weekend conferences or summer camps are good settings for taking students to the next level in their prayer lives.
What stirs our hearts deeply about Jesus? That He loves us passionately, deeply, sacrificially and unconditionally. In other words, it’s the very message of the gospel, understood deep in one’s soul that unleashes the floodgates of emotional to connection to our God. So helping your students understand the profound theology of the gospel and the depth of Jesus’ love for them are critical elements in helping them cultivate a passion for connecting with God in prayer. This is what we mean here at Dare 2 Share when we talk about building a Gospel Advancing Ministry where the gospel is advancing BOTH deep into the souls of your students AND out into their world as they share the gospel with their friends who need Jesus.
And like the Apostle Paul before you, the depth of Jesus’ love is something you can be actively praying into the souls of your students. Consider Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:17b-19 and use them as a prayer prompt to lay the foundation for taking your students to the next level in prayer,
And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God (The Message).
2. Lean In to Desperate Times
While mountain top experiences are an awesome, powerful means for taking students to a deeper level of prayer, hard as it may be to hear, so are desperate times. Quite honestly, there’s nothing like desperation to amp up our prayers lives and help us learn how to storm the throne room of heaven. We learn some of the deepest truths about life with God in the toughest times—including the truth that we can’t make it through without clinging to Jesus.
During their time under your spiritual care, sadly, tough stuff will slam into the lives of many of your teenagers—their parents’ divorce, bullying, a romantic break up, being stabbed in the back, etc. Look for ways to gently use those personal crises as an opportunity to teach them how to pray with passion. Get them journaling their prayers to God. Point them to the Psalms and show them how to cry out their prayers of “How long, O Lord?” or “Why?” Come alongside and teach them how to pray through the fear and frustration to faith…just like David did again and again throughout the Psalms.
On a community-wide level, desperate times are also triggered by tragic events like a car accident, suicide or overdose. While these are incredibly painful times, God can redeem the suffering they bring by using them to draw students’ attention toward Him and the eternal realities of life and death. These can be significant Gospel Advancing times that get teenagers praying passionately—including praying for the souls of their unreached friends. At Dare 2 Share, we saw this happen firsthand when the Columbine school shooting tragedy occurred a few minutes down the road from our office.
While no one wants to see tragedy strike, when it does, joining God in His process of bringing good out of what was intended for evil can provide a powerful prayer training ground. Remember, the Gospel Advancing spiritual vibrancy of the early believers was borne out of suffering.
3. Get Them Outside Their Comfort Zone
Purposefully getting your students outside their comfort zone is another effective catalyst for nurturing a more passionate prayer life. And there’s nothing like evangelism to shake things up. The prospect of going out and engaging others in gospel conversations creates holy tension that can burst out in the form of worry or prayer. But if you point teenagers upwardly to God, as you are taking them outwardly to engage others with the gospel, it can transform them inwardly in powerful ways.
When Jesus unleashed His disciples on an evangelistic mission (Matthew 10), He told them not to depend on their provisions, but to depend on the Spirit. Surely the prospect of going town to town to preach the message of the gospel to potentially antagonistic crowds caused them to pray like never before!
The same is true of your teenagers! Get them outside their comfort zone, challenge them to begin a texting gospel conversation with their friends, or mobilize them to go on an evangelistic mission trip and you will see an opportunity to get them praying more passionately.
Peaks, valleys and faith-sharing—these are three impactful ways to help your teenagers prayer life move from a wish list to a passionate connection to the God of the universe.