How to Pray for Youth
How to Pray for Youth
Young people are our most valuable natural resource. Their energy, creativity, and mission-mindedness are needed if the church is going to realize its potential and perpetuate the apostolic message. This energy must be directed constructively, which can only be done by seeking God. Satan wants to turn youthful energy into a negative, destructive force. We must, however, challenge his desire through focused intercession. As you pray for our youth, pray in these area:
1. An abiding, personal relationship with Christ.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Pray that youth would . . .
- Committ their lives to Christ, be filled with His Spirit, and be baptized in His name.
- Recognize that His name is above every name (Acts 4:12) and confess by a life fully submitted to divine authority that He is Lord of all (Philippians 2:11).
- Learn to communicate with Christ and learn to depend on Him for everything.
- Understand the depth of God’s love for them (I John 3:1).
- Base their self-esteem and identity in Christ and not the standards of the world.
- Know who they are, what they have in Christ, and what they can do through Him (Colossians 1:27). “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: . . . In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; . . . In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your slavation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:4, 7, 11-14).
- Be blessed with the joy that comes from intimately knowing Christ and walking with Him.
- Be filled so completely with the joy of the Lord that they would not pursue worldly pleasure (Romans 14:17; Psalm 16:11; Philippians 4:4;Nehemiah 8:10).
2. Moral purity
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:7-10).
Pray that youth would . . .
- Develop the strength of character to remain morally pure in this permissive society.
- Make right decisions about sex, drugs, and worldly pleasures. Their only true safety is abstinence.
- Defeat negative peer pressure and learn to make the right choices.
- Have a pure heart.
- Not just keep a set of rules, but desire to please God in all they do.
- Be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I have every false way. Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple . . . Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness. They word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever: Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil” (Psalm 119:127-130, 159-162).
- That the Word of God would be instilled in their hearts and that they would choose the obedience of hating sin and loving His holiness.
3. Values and Relationships
Pray that youth would . . .
- Retain the values that have made our nations and churches great. They must learn to live by the biblical principles of integrity and honesty—to be true, especially in relationships. Without these proper values, they cannot develop friendships and marriages that will last a lifetime (Titus 2:11-14).
- Develop friendships based on the drawing of the Holy Spirit to righteous companions.
- Pray that God would give them friends who are true, wholesome, and mutually encouraging.
- Pray that they would have the wisdom to choose relationships that would honor God (Psalm 119:63; John 15:13-14).
- Set their thoughts on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8; John 8:32; Romans 12:2).
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).
Pray that youth would . . .
- Accept their divine mission in life. They were born again to be a witness for Jesus Christ and to disciple others (Acts 1:8).
- Become spiritual leaders and boldly; courageously stand up for what they believe and cherish (I Timothy 4:12).
- Become the catalyst for revival in their churches, schools, and communities and accept roles of responsibility in these areas. They must show others that one can live for God in this ungodly world.
- Take their place in God’s kingdom.
Produced by World Network of Prayer, United Pentecostal Church International
So you want to pray, but you’re not sure where to start? Let me first tell you a story about a monk who almost drowned a seminarian . . .
Table of contents
- 1 How Important is Prayer?
- 2 How to Pray
- 3 Just Go Try!
- 4 Short Prayer for Difficult Times
- 5 Prayer for Peace
- 6 Prayer for the Broken-Hearted
- 7 Prayer for Perseverance
- 8 Prayer for Self Control
- 9 Prayer for Your Children
- 10 Prayer for Loving Like Jesus
- 11 Prayer for God’s Direction
- 12 Prayer for When You Feel Unworthy
- 13 Prayer For Worry
- 14 Prayer for God’s Strength
- 15 Prayer for Control of Tongue
- 16 Prayer When Feeling Inadequate
- 17 Prayer for Being Grateful
- 18 Prayer of God’s Provision
- 19 Prayer for Growing Faith
- 20 Prayer for Confidence
- 21 Prayer for a Heavy Heart
- 22 Prayer for Hope and Trust
- 23 Short Prayer for Thankfulness
- 24 Prayer for Restored Relationships
How Important is Prayer?
There once was a young seminarian starting out on his journey toward the priesthood. He was a bit of a know-it-all, and wanted to be the best at everything he did. He heard about a very holy monk who was considered a spiritual master in regard to prayer and contemplation.
The seminarian sought him out, and asked the old monk to teach him all of his secrets for prayer. The monk sent him away. The seminarian was stubborn and returned again soon, asking again to learn his secrets to prayer. The monk told him to come back in one week.
When he arrived the next week, the monk took him out behind the monastery to a body of water. He still hadn’t said a word. As they entered into the water up just past their waist, the seminarian grew impatient with the monk, who was still silent.
All of a sudden the monk grabbed the seminarian and held his head under the water. The seminarian struggled and thrashed about, but with the strength of an ox the old monk held him under the water. As the monk let go of him, he came up gasping for breath, embarrassed, angry, and confused. The monk looked at him and said, ‘Until you pray with the same desperation that you have for air, you have not prayed.’
Prayer is as important to our soul as air is to our body! We need prayer to stay connected to the God who created us with a plan in mind. Let’s take a look at some ways we can dive deeper into prayer in our everyday lives.
How to Pray
- Say hello! When a friend enters a room, the first thing most people do is say hello or throw up a wave or nod. In many ways, this is the beginning of prayer: an acknowledgement of God’s presence. When we walk into a Church, we genuflect in front of the tabernacle to humble ourselves while we acknowledge and reverence the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist inside. As you begin to pray, whether it’s just walking somewhere during the day, in a chapel or in your room, take a moment to acknowledge whose presence you are in. ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalms 46:11).
- Be yourself. So many people think that holiness is unattainable, and that to pray we need to look like a statue of St. Francis with our hands folded piously. The reality is that we were created to be in communion with God, and He desires to be in a relationship with us. He doesn’t want you to be a carbon copy of a past saint. He created you with your own gifts and passions, and wants to shine through you uniquely in them. Come to him as you are and let Him transform you into the saint He wants you to be!
- “Teach us to pray’ (Luke 11:1). Jesus’ apostles asked Him these words, and that conversation resulted in what we call the ‘Our Father’ prayer. If his own apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, how much more should we ask him to teach us to pray! Ask God to help you and know that He listens. ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you’ (Matthew 7:7).
- Hit the brakes! The world we live in today blasts us with media and noise from every direction all day, from texting to music to tv and internet. These aren’t bad things, but too much can be distracting from our relationship and conversation with God. “Silence is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God” (Pope Benedict XVI). Take 10 minutes every day from the time you spend on facebook or tv, and use that time to pray. Put God back at the center of your heart and mind.
- Keep it alive. A prayer life that isn’t kept up is like a pond with no water flowing in or out. It becomes stagnant. There’s no oxygen coming in, and it becomes uninhabitable. All you’ll find is scum and mosquitos. Nobody likes mosquitos; don’t be that person. Yet a person who cultivates their relationship with God in prayer finds a much different picture. There is fresh water flowing in and out of the pond. It is life giving! There are flowers and trees that grow along the sides. Your prayer life will affect the other areas of your life.
‘Happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, Nor go the way of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers. Rather, the law of the LORD is their joy; God’s law they study day and night. They are like a tree planted near streams of water, that yields its fruit in season; Its leaves never wither; whatever they do prospers’ (Psalms 1:1-3).
- Let it transform you. Practice makes perfect. The entire Christian life, including prayer, is something that we have to work on to become better at it. God can do amazing things in us through our reaching out to him in prayer!
‘Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven’ (St. Ephraem of Syria).
Just Go Try!
As Catholics, we have access to the highest form of prayer every Sunday (and every day if available) in the Mass, ending with receiving Jesus Himself in the Eucharist. Talk about soul food! Enter into it in a deeper way each time and listen for God to speak to you in it.
You could also start by praying the rosary. Our mother Mary is awesome and is the perfect model for how to love her son.
The St. Michael the Archangel prayer is also a great prayer to know. Satan is always trying to separate us from God. St. Mike whips up on Satan. Yeah, you want that guy on your team.
Pray for your family, youth minister, priests, future spouse, and give thanks to God for all the people He has brought into your life to help shape you into who you are.
I’m praying that in your journey into prayer you fall in love with the God who will be there with you through good and bad times and countless adventures throughout the rest of your life. All you holy angels and saints, pray for us!
If I could get in a time machine and go back to teenaged Greg I’d tell him one thing…learn how to pray.
Sadly, it took me about four decades to begin to truly discover the power of prayer. Once I did, it felt like for the majority of my life I’d been throwing dirt clods at Satan only to discover there was a bazooka in the closet.
Now that I’m learning the power of prayer I can scream, “Say hello to my little friend” as I blast away at Satan’s strongholds in my life, church, community and nation! I can worship God and praise him for who he is and what he has done! I can intercede at Jesus’ side for both believers and unbelievers alike!
Oh how I wish I would have learned the art and science of prayer as a teenager! Instead, I followed the model of many of my leaders who used prayer more like holy water to sanctify their white board plans.
Instead it is a secret weapon to be aimed at the enemy of our souls. It is a largely untapped pipeline for both earthly and spiritual provisions straight from heaven’s limitless reservoirs to us!
So how do we teach our teens how to pray? Here are five ideas:
1. Pray often. Pray well. Pray now.
Make 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, proclaim, “teach us to pray!”
2. Maximize desperate times.
There’s nothing like desperation to amp up our prayers of intercession, protection and supplication. If a teenager comes upon a desperate time (break up, parents divorce, bullied or stabbed in the back, etc.) use that time to teach them to pray. Get them journalling 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?” to the Father. And teach them how to pray through the frustration to faith…just like David did again and again throughout the Psalms.
3. Do a series on prayer.
Sometimes teenagers don’t pray because they don’t know how to do it. Purchase or develop a good series on prayer that will show them how to pray with power. At Lead THE Cause we teach teenagers to pray by using the Lord’s prayer as a guideline. We use the acrostic PRAY…Praise, Request, Admit, Yield:
Praise “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name.” These eight words embody who God is (Our Father), how sovereign he is (in heaven) and how holy he is (hallowed by your Name.) Needless to say there’s a lot of potential truth to unpack in this singular sentence that will help teenagers know how to pray to and praise God.
Request “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is done in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.” The first request we bring to God is not our Santa Claus wish list…or even our own personal needs (although these are important to God!) No, the first request is for HIS kingdom to come and HIS will to be done. We teach our teenagers to pray for revival in the youth group and their schools, for God’s kingdom to advance one Gospel conversation at a time until it saturates our campuses and communities and world. Then, of course, we teach them to ask for their “daily bread” of the ongoing provisions we need and want.
Admit “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” This is where we teach teenagers to confess their sins to God, claiming the promise of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This trains our teenagers to refuse to linger in the mud when they fall and to get cleaned up through confession as they relentlessly pursue their relationship with God.
Yield “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” This equips our teenagers to yield themselves to the Holy Spirit as they put on the full armor of God to wage war against Satan. This part of prayer keeps our teenagers alert to the reality of spiritual warfare and the temptations that the world, the flesh and the devil throw their way everyday.
I use the PRAY acrostic with my kids to teach them pray holisitically and give them a simple outline to use when they pray. It comes straight from the Lord’s prayer (and that prayer is kind of hard to beat!)
4. Program prayer into your meetings.
What if you took used the worship time of your weekly meeting to make prayer part of your actual program? I blogged about how to do just that here.
Or, what if you used the last ten minutes of your youth group meeting to allow teenagers to pray?
Or what if the first or last half of your small groups allowed teenagers to pray with and for each other and their unreached friends?
You may be surprised how your teenagers are longing to pray down deep inside. They may just not know it yet. Programmed times of prayer can help this deep, divine desire to surface in powerful ways.
At the Dare 2 Share conferences we program prayer into our rundown and the results have been amazing. There’s something about a room full of teenagers praying at the same time. It brings us back to that elemental root in all of us. After all, at the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of kids talking to their Daddy…their Daddy who happens to rule the universe!
5. Take them out to share the Gospel.
“After they prayed the place where they were meeting was shaken and they went out and spoke the Word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31
There’s nothing like evangelism to shake things up when it comes to prayer.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 we point teenagers upwardly to God as we 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. I’m sure that 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! Take them out to share the Gospel, 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 right away. Why? Because they’re probably very nervous! And outreaches like this create “desperate times” that can trigger teenagers to embrace the “drastic measure” of calling out to God for boldness and strength to proclaim his message.
These are my five ideas to teach teens to pray. What are some other ideas?
Whether you have had a personal relationship with God for years or you are only beginning to discover who Jesus is, we all need guidance sometimes when it comes to prayers. It’s often hard to find the words to pray, that’s why we put together this collection of short prayers. The following short prayers offer guiding words to use for praying over various topics including worry, anxiety, doubt, forgiveness, fear, and other areas of life where we need to ask for God’s help. Please use these prayers and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as you add some of your own words and personalize your petitions to God.
Short Prayer for Difficult Times
~ Jennifer O White
Prayer for Peace
Father God, my heart is filled with chaos and confusion. I feel as if I am drowning in my circumstances and my heart is filled with fear and confusion. I really need the strength and peace that only You can give. Right now, I choose to rest in You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen. ~ Mary Southerland.
Prayer for the Broken-Hearted
Lord, my heart is broken but You are near. My spirit is crushed, but You are my rescuer. Your Word is my hope. It revives me and comforts me in especially now. My soul faints, but you are the breath of life within me. You are my help, the One who sustains me. I am weak but You are strong. You bless those who mourn, and I trust You to bless me and my family with all that we need. You will rescue me from this dark cloud of despair because You delight in me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Jennifer White
Prayer for Perseverance
Holy Lord, Thank You for grace. Please help me move beyond the hurdles that trip me up and give me the strength and wisdom to look up and see the hope I run toward in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Gwen Smith
Prayer for Self Control
Father, today I ask forgiveness of all the negative and harmful words I have spoken about myself. I do not want to abuse myself in such a way again. Transform my thoughts and let me understand how marvelously you made me. Change my habits so I use my tongue to speak hope and favor upon my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen. ~ Sarah Coleman
Prayer for Your Children
~ Dr. Neil T. Anderson
Prayer for Loving Like Jesus
Father, I have to thank You for looking beyond my faults and for loving me unconditionally. Forgive me when I fail to love others in the same way. Give me eyes to see the needs of the difficult people in my life, and show me how to meet those needs in a way that pleases You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Mary Southerland
Prayer for God’s Direction
Lord, help me not to lean on my own understanding but in everything acknowledge You so that You can direct my words, thoughts and actions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Sharon Glasgow
Prayer for When You Feel Unworthy
~ Renee Swope
Prayer For Worry
Father, I am tempted to worry about so many things. Our world is a mess! Forgive me for focusing on anything or anyone but You. Thank You for the Bible that equips and empowers me to live each day. Right now, I declare that You are my only Hope. Please help me remember that You really are in control. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Mary Southerland
Prayer for God’s Strength
Lord, thank you for your greatness. Thank you that when I am weak, you are strong. Lord, the Devil is scheming and I know he desires to keep me from spending time with you. Don’t let him win! Give me a measure of your strength so that I might not give into discouragement, deception and doubt! Help me honor you in all my ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Debbie Przybylski
Prayer for Control of Tongue
~ Debbie Przybylski
Prayer When Feeling Inadequate
Dear Lord, Thank You for fearfully and wonderfully creating each of us. Thank You for giving us worth in Your eyes. Help us live as the one You uniquely intended us to be. Help us abide instead of strive, living peacefully and joyfully as heirs to Your Kingdom and co-heirs with Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Julie Sunne
Prayer for Being Grateful
Father, I am so sorry for the way I complain about my circumstances. Please forgive me for my bad attitude when things don’t go my way. I want to see Your hand in every part of every day – good or bad. Help me learn how to face every storm with confidence, knowing that You really are in control even though I cannot hear Your voice or see Your hand at work. In Jesus Name, Amen. ~ Mary Southerland
Prayer of God’s Provision
Dear Father God, Thank You for Your unfailing love for me, Your blessings, and goodness. Thank You for Your faithfulness to guide me and see me through times of uncertainty, for lifting me up, and setting me on high. Thank You for Scripture that comforts and reminds me of Your promises, plan, and provision. Thank you for taking away my fears and worries, the what-ifs, and reminding me that my help comes from You. Help me be a good steward and to sow wisely. In Christ’s Name, Amen. ~ Renee Davis
Prayer for Growing Faith
Dear Lord, help me – every single morning – to find faith in the midst of the chaos. Give me the desire and ability to see You, hear You, talk to You, and give thanks to You. And as I do, I pray that I will draw nearer and nearer to You, and that my faith will multiply exponentially as I understand in new, deeper ways that You are everything I ever hoped You would be. And so much more. Amen. ~ Kelly O’Dell Stanley
Prayer for Confidence
Lord, help me let go of my fear of failure. I know Satan wants to use my fears to hold me back from living boldly for You. Forgive me for not living in faith, and help me from this moment on to live with bold confidence in You. Lord, help me not compare myself to others around me. I pray instead that I can keep my eye on You and live a life that proclaims Your excellence. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen. ~ Rick Warren
Prayer for a Heavy Heart
Lord, I want to lay before you all that weighs heavy on my heart. Reveal even the sin I am not aware of, Lord. I lay these at your feet and pray your forgiveness on me. I believe you when you say that you wash us whiter than snow. Thank you Lord for your unending love for me! Help me start fresh right now to make choices that honor you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Rick Warren
Prayer for Hope and Trust
Father, sometimes it does feel that you have left us in the battle. We know that you are with us, but so are our feelings of aloneness. The Enemy seems to be taking ground. Our crying out to you seems to go unanswered. We know you are at work, but help us trust you in the midst of our questions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ Ron Moore
Short Prayer for Thankfulness
God, sometimes life gets me down and I find it hard to see things to be thankful for. Open my eyes to see the gifts you’ve given me in my life. I’m going to start by thanking you for loving me enough to come to earth and die so we can live together forever. Amen. ~ Wendy van Eyck
Prayer for Restored Relationships
Father God, open my eyes to see the ways I’m like Cain. What conflicts am I allowing to brew in my family? What anger is bubbling into murderous rage in my relationships? Thank You for the clarity to see how hatred kills relationships. I choose instead the way of love. Love protects. Help me to protect those I love by loving them. Your way is always best, Father. I pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen. ~ James MacDonald
Which one of these short prayers spoke the most to you and how can we be praying for you? Comment below and let us know!
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can’t find the words to pray.
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