Opening prayer for youth ministry

I mentioned awhile back that one of the special evening events at our church camp this summer was “The Night of Silence” in which the youth spent time in complete silence experiencing a variety of camper-created prayer stations. I thought I’d share a few of the ideas they came up with, all of which would work at camp or youth group or many other ministry settings. These activities can be adapted as you see fit to your particular prayer traditions. Each offers a template and taps into various ways of engaging the senses in the experience of prayer. If we are to take seriously Paul’s encouragement to “Pray without ceasing” then it’s possible that everything we do is prayer, provided we do it with awareness of communion with God and openness to God’s spirit.

Prayer Path – Create a simple circular path out of tape on the floor or chairs and rope. Design the path to wind in on itself and reach an open center space that is equipped with pillows on the floor and written instructions for participants to sit and offer silent prayers for those people who have been important to their own prayer journey and to offer thanks to God for their guidance.

Play-Do Prayers – Provide a variety of play-do colors and invite worshippers to create a mini-sculpture to represent a particular prayer need, joy, or concern. As participants finish, they can add their creation to those of others and contemplate and lift up all the other prayers that have been depicted.

Water Prayers – Provide a large glass bowl and pitcher of water. Provide instructions for participants to offer a silent prayer and pour a small amount of water into the bowl. As each person prays, his or her water prayers are mixed with those of others as the bowl fills.

Mural Prayers – Tape a large sheet of paper to a wall and provide markers and crayons. Worshippers can use this canvas to create a mural of prayers on a particular topic (such as “the world” or “peace” or “hurt”) or it could be used graffiti-style, allowing for individual creativity to represent words, pictures, symbols, poetry, etc. to offer up prayers to God.

Braided prayers – Set out colorful strips of cloth and a length of clothesline tied between to trees or posts. Invite worshippers to take three cloth strips to represent three people or things they want to pray about. Tie the ends of the three strips to the clothesline and then braid the three together, all the while meditating and praying on the selected pray concerns. Encourage participants to take note of the braided cloths left by others and to consider their prayers as well.

Prayer Stones – Assemble a collection of smooth stones and ask participants to choose one and hold it firmly in their hands, focusing on and praying for a particular joy or concern. When ready, worshippers should take a sharpie and write a word on phrase on the stone to represent their prayer and then add it to the growing pile left by others.

Candle Shape Prayers – Set out a number of votive candles and a lighter. Instruct a small group to work together, in silence, to form together a shape or symbol to represent a prayer need of the world. When the group senses the image is complete, have them work together to light each candle, hold hands, and pray in silence.

Pipe Cleaner Prayers – Invite worshippers to take several pipe cleaners and form a shape or design that communicates a prayer concern. Ask them to add their creation to those of others and to spend time contemplating all the prayer concerns represented.

Stick Sculpture Prayers – I must admit the exact focus of this one alludes me but I’m sure you could creatively adapt it. Found sticks were provided and the group worked together to form a sculpture. Perhaps each added stick represents an individual prayer and the sculpture represents our prayers connected to each other, or perhaps the entire sculpture represents a prayer.

Of course, any of these prayer experiences could be enhanced by providing scriptures to read, sacred music, written questions to encourage thought and meditation, or icons such as images of Jesus or biblical stories in art. You can find other creative worship ideas, including more suggestions for interactive prayer stations, here.

— Brian

www.rethinkingyouthministry.com
FOCUS: To help students examine their understanding of prayer as a spiritual practice.

OPENING UP: Invite the group to pray with you and say:

“Dear God, we come before you and give thanks for everything we have. We ask that you continue to bless us. Give us the things that we need and the things that we want. Help us get the best MP3 players, the best video game systems, the coolest clothes, the hottest sports car. Help us make good grades on all our tests and homework, and help us to win and be number one at whatever we try. Most especially, bless our country so that we continue to be more powerful and more wealthy than any other country in the world. Thanks God. Amen.”

Ask: If you heard this prayer in a worship service, how do you think you would react/feel? How is this prayer different/same as your idea of prayer?

REFLECTION: Go around the circle and invite each person to finish the phrase “Prayer is…” with one word. Do this three times, encouraging them to use a different word each time. Encourage them to consider action words, descriptive words, symbols, emotions, etc. Keep a written list of their responses.

Alternative: Pass out a handout with a variety of images on it related to prayer. The images might include folded hands, a person singing, someone walking in the woods, a lit candle, worshippers holding hands in a circle. Invite youth to share which pictures say something to them about how they understand prayer.

DIGGING INTO THE TEXT: Read Matthew 6: 5-17 together. Ask: How could the text help shape our prayer practice? How might we pray differently than we do now in church/in private?

Read

Luke 18: 9-14 (The Pharisee & the Tax Collector). Ask: How do you think the Pharisee would define prayer? How do you think the tax collector would define prayer?

Read Luke 5:16. Ask: What do you think about Jesus’ practice of praying alone? What do you imagine he prayed about? What does your own prayer practice look like or what would you like it to look like?

BRINGING TOGETHER SCRIPTURE & OUR STORY: Pose “The Big Question”: Do you think God answers prayer? If so, how? What does a prayer sound like if it’s not about asking for stuff? What part, if any, do we play in helping God to answer prayers (or own or those of others)?

Encourage the group to reflect on the different ideas and images of prayer that you have discussed. Invite them to create (perhaps in silence, as an act of prayer) a group mural that illustrates, without words, different ways of understanding prayer.

TAKING ACTION: Invite youth to take up a prayer practice in the coming weeks that involves “emptying” oneself of those me-centered desires and distractions that get in the way of a more meaningful prayer practice. Encourage students, like Jesus, to find a “secluded place” to pray, whether that be in their bedroom or outside in the woods or locked in the bathroom! Invite youth to use a prayer box or bowl as a way to begin their time of person prayer. This vessel could be used in two ways. One: place into the receptacle things or symbols of things that might distract you in your time of prayer or draw you into yourself instead of into God. These might include a cell phone, watch, TV remote, homework, money, etc. Two: place into the receptacle slips of paper on which you have written the names of people or places for which you want to focus your prayer time.

www.rethinkingyouthministry.com

There are thousands of sites, books and ideas for prayer stations out there. Just a quick google search for “prayer stations” will bring up some great ideas. There are also Pinterest boards with ideas.

Last week I decided to create a prayer station experience for our youth. I tried to focus on creating stations based on things we had around the youth center and church.

Once I set them up, I blocked off the area so no youth could go in early. I dimmed the lights, and created a

spotify playlist of worship songs

to have going in the background. The youth were free to go to any station, in any order. They spent about 45 minutes going around to each one.

Below I have included each of the stations. The “Set-Up” is what I used to physically create the space. The “Instructions” are what I printed and had posted at each station. The “Verse” was also printed and placed at the corresponding station.

Here they are:

opening prayer for youth ministry

Godly Goals

Set up –

I took a table and placed it below our basketball goal. I strung 4 strands rope from the goal to the table. I placed pens and paper on the table along with clothespins for them to use to attach their goals to the rope. (You could use a child’s basketball goal, or soccer goal if needed)

Instructions –

As we live life day to day, it becomes easy to be caught up in the mundane tasks. God has way more planned for us. Take a moment to think of what God may be calling you to do, start, or be. Write that goal on a card and pin it to the rope leading up to the goal.

Verse-

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.-Philippians 3:13-14

opening prayer for youth ministry

Glowing

Set up-

Highlighters glow under black light. So I placed four place lights on our concrete floor and had the youth write out their responses. Was a great way to show the difference between light and dark. Use whatever surface works for your group.

Instructions-

We are called to be light in a dark world. We reflect the light of God wherever we go, to those around us. Use the highlighter to write words or draw ways you can be a light in the world. Pray for all those things others have written down, that those before you may shine light in the darkness.

Verse –

For anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” -Ephesians 5:14

Forgotten-

 Set up –

I took lost and found items we had in our youth group and put them on a table.

Instructions-

The articles before you are actual lost and found pieces from the church. They are most likely not looked for anymore, have been forgotten and no one searches for them.

Pray for those in the world who are forgotten. Pray for other youth who feel lost or forgotten.

Verse-

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. -Isaiah 58:10

opening prayer for youth ministry

Rest-

Set Up-

I put down a carpet, placed some bibles and blank journals on a coffee table, laid down some pillows and created a comfortable place just to be still.

Instructions-

Rest. Sit and rest. Read from the Bible, Journal, write a note to God, or just sit and be still in the presence of God. Stay here as long as you like.

Verse-

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28

opening prayer for youth ministry

Praise and Thanksgiving Wall

Set up –

We have a wall painted with chalkboard paint as part of our youth center, so it was easy enough to use that. I just placed a bucket of sidewalk chalk on the floor, and ran christmas lights around the edge for illumination. You could use butcher paper or big post it notes taped to the wall.

Instructions-

Use the chalk to write, or draw what you praise God for, and what you are thankful to Him for.

Verse-
Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. -Psalm 106:1

opening prayer for youth ministry

Wipe Your Sins Away

Set up-

We have a large painting of the crucified Jesus done by the Jesus Painter in our youth center. I placed two dry erase boards by it and put poster board on the wall beside it.

Instructions-

The picture on the wall is of Jesus on the cross. He died on the cross so your sins would be wiped away, and you would be made clean.

On a dry erase board write something that separates you from God. It may be a sin you struggle with, someone you need to forgive or an attitude about something you need to get rid of. Once you have written it down, wipe it clean. Look at the clean white board and remember that Jesus cleans you white as snow.

On the poster board write a note of thanks to Jesus for what He did.

Verse-

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

-I John 1:9

Salt of the Earth

Set up –

A table with salt shakers set on it

Instructions-

Salt makes things taste better. Salt preserves things. Salt makes things more interesting. Salt brings out flavors in food.

Put some salt in your hand and taste. Then pray how you can be salt in this bland world, and what that means.

Verse-

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

-Matthew 5:13

opening prayer for youth ministry

Pray for the World

Set up –

We used a television and put a map of the world on the screen. Actually because we did not have a map of the world. As I sat and looked I thought how cool it would have been to make scrolling photos of situations in the world that were going on.

I placed post it notes and markers nearby.

Instructions –

We are called to take care of not only those around us, but the whole world. On the TV is a map of the world. Write a post it note prayer for a person, situation or place it over the TV. Let us cover the world in prayer.

Verse-
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. 1 Timothy 2:1

Pray for You

Setup –

I had a computer monitor with a Poll Everywhere poll on the screen. I placed my iPhone in front so they could use it to enter the concerns. My hope is that we will use this more in the future, so this was a way to introduce our virtual prayer wall.

I would go by and see the concerns posted and pray for them, however next time I hope to contact several adults who would monitor the wall and pray for the requests as they were made. Or have a station somewhere else in the room with a monitor for youth to pray for the concerns posted.

Instructions-

How Can We Pray for You?

Using the phone provided text 419561 and your prayer request to 22333

There will be people praying for each concern as it is posted.

What prayer stations have you used? How do you use them? What questions do you have?

www.ministry2youth.com

Hello everyone! Today on the blog we are honoured to have a special guest with us, Carmen, sharing her heart for ministry. Carmen blogs about all things faith, marriage, and ministry over at Married By His Grace. Her and her husband are involved in Young Adults Ministry together. I know you will love these prayers for your ministry that she is sharing today as it applies to all of us. Welcome, Carmen!

My daughter just got home from a missionary trip. She walked into our home in a way I have never seen before. Her entire countenance and even speech is now foreign to me. As she sits next to me and my husband and tells us all about her experiences and encounters with the people that she went to witness to as a light, her face is glowing and I am capturing every other word as I cannot concentrate on anything but the peace and maturity that is sitting in front of me.

My daughter is thirteen years old and is the youngest in her youth group. There is a two year gap between her and the next student of the youth ministry. Months ago the Pastors of the church offered to assist monetarily to the Youth Group to have the youth ministry experience a missionary trip this year. This is the first time in 22 years of operation our church has had a youth group that has participated in a missionary trip.

opening prayer for youth ministry

As the announcement was given to the parents months ago for the opportunity, my husband and I were very excited to have our daughter participate. It seemed natural to us to have her attend. Our church leaders set great examples to be servants unto God’s kingdom. We believe in outreach to the communities. We have organized food banks, volunteered to city events for those in need, created events for children in need, and much more as a small numbered church. Our youth group is accustomed to the discipline we have to serve one another for His glory. So we knew with all our hearts, our daughter would not be uncomfortable to be gone for 7 days and contribute all that was required.

As the weeks came closer to our daughter’s departure for her first missionary trip, I became more excited for her. She was about to be introduced to a whole new world. See things she never seen before. Most likely feel emotions she never felt.

I was earnestly praying as the days came closer. I prayed for:

  • Her eyes to spiritually be opened: To see the works the Lord is doing right in front of her.
  • Her heart to be broken when she would see despair: So that she can feel the pain of others and seek God for the strength.
  • Her heart to be healed as she remembers the Lord’s mercy and grace: So her heart does not remain broken.
  • Her boldness to explode: To have a sound mind and be courageous for His Glory.
  • Her voice to be heard: As she speaks the gospel.
  • Her ears to be sensitive: To hear the Holy Spirit and take heed to discernment.
  • Her love to be unconditional: To love all that she approaches as Christ loves us.
  • Her life to be protected: Spiritually and Physically.
  • Her mind to be opened: To all the new things she sees. To have a better understanding.
  • Her spirit to be filled: May she experience the Holy Spirit.
  • And for her desire of missionary/servant like attitude to increase: May she develop a greater passion to serve.

As I prayed for my daughter, the Lord started opening my heart to start praying for the same things with my husband for the Young Adult Ministry we assist in leading.

My spiritual eyes were opening to how much missionary traits and characteristics the Young Adults Group was also gaining and how much actions spiritually it takes for us as leaders to lead a group for discipleship and to be examples of Christ.

As I stand by my husband in leading our family into prayer and to walk as examples of Christ daily, the same actions need to be taken as we take the responsibility of leading a group. Whether it is a youth, young adults, discipleship, or a singles group.

Our prayers for the group, the participants of the group, and for ourselves as the leaders is vital for the mission and purpose of the group.

By going into our secret place to pray for the groups we are leading, just as I was doing for my daughter, we are accomplishing much. We are spiritually encouraging, preparing, and building up the individuals involved.

We are putting unction into their spirits to progress. We are also asking the Lord to unction us as leaders to lead in a way that will glorify Him.

As we witness our groups grow in numbers, we should also receive the honor of witnessing the individuals grow in the Lord and we can do that as we take each individual into prayer for the characteristics and traits of disciples to increase in their lives.

The purpose of the groups and the reason of why the group was created needs to be exemplified consistently for His light to be what is seen.

As leaders to our home, in ministry, and as parents, pray for spiritual growth that will guide us and the ones that we are being examples to. That we will increase in faith, grow abundantly in the Lord, and to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, as it is ultimately our teacher to great unknown things.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. But we request of you brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all the people. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  

1 Thessalonians 5:11-18.

opening prayer for youth ministry

My name is Carmen Brown. I am mother to four beautiful children. Wife to an amazing man of God and a passionate follower of Christ. I desire to encourage women to build up a Christlike home by consistently seeking Him for mercy and grace. I believe God can and will restore anything that you chose to hand over to Him. You can read more posts like this at my blog: MarriedbyHisGrace.com.

Pinterest: Marriedbygrace

Instagram: Marriedbyhisgrace

Let’s talk:

  • Do you pray these same prayers over your ministry too?

www.tansquaredyouthministry.com

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