There’s nothing more awkward; yet, exciting than watching a teen pray for the first time. First thought going through their head is, “Why me?” And I’ll admit, it’s an intimidating situation, especially around your peers; however, you can see the expression of satisfaction after this happens. I’m sure most youth ministers would agree that they would like to create a culture of prayer in the lives of their teens. One thing we’ve adopted from many small group models is how we want teens to pray together at the beginning, share life in the middle and pray at the end of a small group session. It’s something we want our leaders to model and then pass on to the teens, you know encourage them in prayer; however, this has been a struggle. I think sometimes our leaders aren’t sure of what they are supposed to model, so this is where we as youth ministers need to step into the situation. We need to create a culture of prayer with our team. Below I have three ways that we are trying to do this in our ministry, I hope it’s something that you can use in yours:
- Praise Prayer: If you want a behavior repeated you need to praise it. One time I was talking to two ministers after service one day and one minister was sharing a hardship with us. After he was able to share what was going on in his life the other minister with us asked if we could pray for him. Afterwards I told this leader how thankful I was that she could lead us in prayer because it shared with the other minister how we are a team and a family and not just a group of individuals who happen to serve together.
- Build In Prayer: This seems to be the most difficult part of a prayerful culture if it’s not built in, so what we need to do is look at opportunities of where we can build in the prayer. Pray with your ministers anytime you start anything or finish anything. Pray right before the night begins, the small groups split off or the pizza is served. Pray after a teaching, at the end of groups, or after worship concludes. It doesn’t matter when, but make it consistent so that people know to expect it. If they see that it’s built into your schedule, they’ll build it into theirs.
- Make Prayer Your Goodbye: I just started doing this but I’m liking it a lot. After a night of ministry there can be some tensions because the music didn’t sound right, some student was being difficult, people were late, numbers were low, etc. Now that I have a good group of ministers I don’t share the burden alone; however, it’s important to make sure that they offer those burdens to God before they go home to see their families. Last thing you want is for your ministers to take out their disappointment or frustration from ministry on family. So grab whoever you can and pray with them.
What will these steps do for the students? Create a culture of prayer in their lives. We don’t have to sit them down and teach them a prayer so they know how to pray we just need to show them by doing it ourselves. But don’t rest that on your shoulders, share it with the team, besides when we pray in numbers our prayer is a little more powerful.
What other opportunities do you see to create a culture of prayer with your team?