It’s a truth widely acknowledged. When life gets uncomfortable, we get more serious about prayer.
For many teenagers, adolescence is uncomfortable. What do others think of me? I don’t like the way I look. I’m stressed about… If you work with teenagers, you know the kinds of self-image and relational issues they struggle with.
So it comes as no surprise that a 2010 Barna poll reported that 71% of teenagers pray.
Expanding the Scope of Teenagers’ Prayer Life
But how far do you think your teenagers’ prayer scope extends? Are they mostly praying about their own personal stuff? Help me pass this test. Help me make the team. Help me get that guy/girl to like me.
Now don’t get me wrong. Those are important requests to bring to God. Jesus taught us to bring our personal needs to the Father in the Lord’s Prayer.
But He also taught us to do more than that. That’s why it’s critical that we teach our students how to move beyond their list of personal needs and wants and see prayer as a part of their “God-given gear” designed to help them reach their friends for Jesus and impact souls for all eternity.
Prayer Aligns Us With God’s Kingdom
Are your students consistently praying for God’s kingdom to come in the hearts of those around them who need Jesus? Isn’t that what “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” is about?
As they ask God to bring His rule and reign to their own corner of the world it should prompt them to think about how they can actively join Him in the spiritual work He’s about. We catch a glimpse of this in Jesus’ words found in John 17:20-21:
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
We must help our teenagers see prayer as a time to focus their desire on God and get with His program. Praying for the souls of their friends who need Jesus gets them connected to God’s heart for the lost. But prayer does even more than that!
Prayer Opens Doors for the Gospel
Prayer builds our spiritual connection with others and opens doors for the gospel. Scripture tells us that even the great Apostle Paul asked that others be praying alongside him for open doors for Christ’s message:
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains (Colossians 4:2-3).
It is God who creates opportunities to share the gospel with others every single day. We must help our students learn to pray that God gives their friends open hearts and receptive minds. The power of prayer cannot be stopped.
I heard this quote when I was 15 years old and have never forgotten it: “Satan laughs at our labor. He mocks all our plans. But he trembles when we pray.” When your teenagers start praying, it has a supernatural, eternal impact on the hearts of their friends. Through prayers the Spirit of God does His work. His job is to convict and convince. Jesus reassures us in John 16:8 that when the Spirit of God comes, “he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” Prayers unleash His power to convince and convict and bring souls into the kingdom.
Prayer Keeps Us in the Zone!
So train your teens to deepen their prayer lives both together in the midst of your youth group’s corporate prayer time, but also privately in the secret corners of their hearts. Praying for God’s kingdom to come will keep them in the zone, calling on God’s power to touch hearts and lives and challenging them to join God in His mission to reach the lost and hurting in their world.