Do you sometimes feel like you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off? If you’ve never actually seen a chicken who’s just had its head cut off, rest assured that it’s not a pretty sight! There’s blood everywhere, which is why the chicken eventually falls down dead—its vital lifeblood has been pumped dry.
But here’s a radical thought. Maybe you sometimes feel like that headless chicken because you actually are experiencing what it’s like to be cut off from the most essential thing you need for effective ministry—your vital lifeblood that comes from a regular connection to God though prayer.
Try This! ❯
For the next seven days, every single day, find a way to let one or more of your teenagers know that you prayed for them today!
Too Busy for Prayer?
If you are too busy for prayer, then you’re busier than God wants you to be. Think about that for a minute. How many times have you gotten so wrapped up in the work of ministry that prayer is left to the back burner?
We all know how easy it is for prayer to become the caboose of our ministry, instead of the engine. Why is this? What drives us to become so busy that we forget to prioritize praying with passion that our students would grow deep in their relationship with Jesus, and go wide with His message by sharing the hope of the gospel in their circles of influence?
This is not a guilt trip. These are honest, soul-searching questions each of us should ask ourselves if we’re serious about building a Gospel Advancing Ministry that has lasting impact in the lives of our students and their unreached friends.
Gospel Advancing Value #1: Intercessory prayer fuels it.
Intercessory prayer is Value #1 of the seven values of a Gospel Advancing Ministry because it is the fuel that should power every conversation, relationship, lesson, meeting and retreat.
Somehow many of us have been deluded into thinking that ministry activity is more important than prayer. Yet Jesus has told us clearly, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b). Prayer is the portal through which we yield ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit. The act of prayer is an act of dependence. Prayer is us letting God know that we can’t, but we believe He can. It’s how we stay connected to the Vine so that transformational impact actually occurs as a result of our ministry efforts.
Pray Often. Pray Well. Pray Now.
So how do you get started increasingly prioritizing intercessory prayer in your ministry? By making prayer part of the way you live and breathe. Pray with your teenagers. Pray for your teenagers. Pray in private and in public. Spend time pouring your heart out to God in prayer with teenagers. Let them overhear and participate in your intercession. Let them hear you pray so that they, just like the first disciples of Jesus, come to you saying “teach us to pray!” Your prayers don’t have to be long and elaborate; sincere and succinct works just fine. Like Charles Spurgeon put it: “True prayer is measured by weight, not by length.”
But if the goal is to make intercessory prayer an increasing part of the way you roll, you have to build the habit. So here’s your challenge this week: for the next seven days, every single day, find a way to let at least one of your teenagers know that you prayed for them today! This can look like…
- Texting “I prayed for your today.”
- Praying with them over the phone.
- Doing lunch or coffee with a few of your teenagers and praying for them on the spot.
- Praying for them during youth group.
- Praying for them on Sunday morning.
- Praying with them about their struggles and concerns after a one-on-one conversation.
The Many-Layered Benefits of Praying for Your Teens
The intent here is not to publicly broadcast your prayer life so others think “you’re so spiritual….” Rather, it’s to help you make intercessory prayer increasingly routine and instinctive. Just consider the benefits that can flow out of your passionate intercessory prayer:
- Your ministry efforts will be more Spirit-infused.
- Your students will see prayer modeled transparently and authentically, helping them grasp its centrality to all of life. That’s what Jesus did for those He was discipling!
- You’ll bless and encourage your students as your prayers demonstrate that you deeply care about them and their walk with God.
- It will help strengthen a habit of regularly interceding for your students (if you aren’t doing this already). After all, you can’t tell them you prayed for them, unless you actually do it!
- And of course, you’ll move the hand of God on your students’ behalf, because prayer changes things and helps propel the advancement of the gospel both in and through them!
Each day of this challenge, remember Jesus’ words, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b). Take Him at His word and make prayer the engine of your ministry, not the caboose!