Admit it. We’ve all been there. There are times when all you can muster in your intercessory prayer efforts for your youth ministry are a “holy water sprinkling” ritual at the beginning of a meeting and the good intentions whisper inside your head at the end that says, “Oh yeah, we should do that…but we just don’t have time tonight.”
Try This! ❯
Choose one of these 8 creative ideas to help you build a fresh, intentional intercessory prayer rhythm into your ministry this week. Or come up with one of your own!
Still, in your better moments, you know you want to deepen your ministry prayer life. The humbling reality is that your private prayer life will inevitably be reflected in your public ministry. As humbling as this reality is, it serves as an objective barometer for how you are doing both personally and as a leader of the youth God has placed under your spiritual care. That’s why it’s so important that you understand deep in your own soul how critical prioritizing prayer really is. So let’s dig a little deeper into the “apart from me you can do nothing” Bible verse we touched on briefly last week.
Staying Connected to the Vine
Did you realize that on Jesus’ very last night with His disciples, as they walked from the room where they’d shared their final Passover meal together (The Last Supper) to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus made time to give them a final lesson? It was a lesson about dependency on Him and reliance on the Holy Spirit. Along that walking route—with Jesus very possibly pausing by a roadside vineyard to give them a clear visual illustration—He drove home this vital lesson:
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-5).
Think about it! The absolute priority of prayerful dependence on God is what Jesus chose to talk about on that momentous night! In fact, His teaching throughout John 14-17 contains some of the most powerful lessons on prayer, faith and the Holy Spirit in the whole of Scripture.
Developing an Intentional Prayer Rhythm
But how do you actually begin to build intercessory prayer into the DNA of your youth ministry? For some of you, prayer is natural and a go-to in just about any situation, but for others, incorporating it into your daily schedule takes more intentionality and creativity. Wherever you land on this continuum, it’s important to develop your own personal rhythm of prayer and keep it fresh and vibrant.
So here are a few creative ideas to help you become increasingly intentional about praying for your ministry and your students. Or feel free to use your own. Just remember Charles Spurgeon’s wise words: “True prayer is measured by weight, not by length.”
- Do you have a youth group contact list on your phone? Pray through the list on a regular basis.
- Put a photo wall up in your office and pray through the faces.
- Write your students’ names on note cards, then go for a walk each day and talk to God about them.
- Set up a daily appointment on your calendar that’s blocked off to connect with God about your students, their unreached friends, your weekly program, annual calendar and leadership team.
- Keep a prayer journal.
- If you need help being accountable, find a prayer partner and pray together for your students and ministry—in person or over the phone on a regular basis.
- Pray through selected Psalms for your students—that their hearts will increasingly hunger and thirst after God:
- Psalm 27: Pray that they would seek the Lord as their “One Thing” and share Him with others.
- Psalm 42: In trouble or joy, pray they would thirst deeply for the Living God and share His Living Water with their friends who need Jesus.
- Psalm 63: Pray they would grasp the deep truth that God’s love is better than life itself, and that this truth would be the driving force in their lives.
- Psalm 119: Pray they would embrace God’s principles for the “good life” and advance His Kingdom everywhere they go.
- Pray for one or two students per day. As you pray, jot down a Bible verse and some personal encouragements on a post card and mail it to them.
Pick one idea this week and try it out. Purposeful, regular prayer will empower your ministry efforts for Gospel Advancement like nothing else! Prayer will keep you connected to the branch and will move the hand of God on behalf of your students and your ministry.
The stakes couldn’t be higher!