QUESTION: What are some prayers for teens?
Consider these prayers for teens.
When you need friends: “There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
You are a gracious and loving Lord. I don’t have any friends, and I really miss having them. Please bring some people into my life that I may share with them memorable times. Open my eyes to see the good qualities in people around me. Help me be the type of friend to others, as the type of friend I seek. I thank You, Heavenly Father. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Helpful Resources: Psalms 119:63; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 27:10-11; Ecclesiastes 4:9-10; Malachi 3:16-17; Acts 20:35; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:3-7.
When you need guidance: “The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).
I know you are the great counselor! I am in need of guidance, for I don’t know what to do. Help me to do what You want done in this situation. Please send someone to show me the steps I need to take. I depend on You, and I thank You, Heavenly Father. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Helpful Resources: 2 Samuel 22:9; Psalm 31:3; 25:9; 48:14; 78:24; 107:7; Proverbs 3:5; 16:3; Isaiah 30:21; 48:17; 58:11.
When you need money: “And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!” (Luke 12:28).
Help me to have faith that You will provide what I need, when I need it. Open up a job that will fit the hours I have available outside of school to pay for my expenses. I trust in You, Lord. Thank You for providing for my family and me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Helpful Resources: Psalm 23:1; 34:10; 37:25; 111:5; Isaiah 33:15-16; Joel 2:26; Malachi 3:10; Philippians 4:19.
When you feel tempted: “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1:2-3).
Heavenly Father, I know You are strong. I need help right now, because I am being tempted to join activities that I know are not good or appropriate for me. Give me strength to say ‘no thanks’ to this pressure. Help me to find something else to keep myself busy in place of the activities my peers want me to participate in. You are my strength in this, Lord. I thank You Heavenly Father for understanding all the temptations that face teenagers today, and what it takes to refrain from being lured in the wrong direction. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Helpful Resources: Psalm 1:1-3; 119:11; Luke 22:31-32; Ephesians 6:10-11; Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16; James 1:12-14; 4:7; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 John 4:4.
When Your family needs prayer: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9).
I know You see everything and know how each situation turns out. I will trust in You. My family needs help. Show me what I can do to make life easier for them. Help my family find Your salvation so we don’t fight like we do now. Help me to show them You in my life. I thank You, Heavenly Father for your love and concern. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Helpful Resources: Acts 11:14; 16:31.
When you need a sense of purpose: “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name” (John 15:16).
I look to You in my time of need. I don’t feel like I matter much to people in this world. My self-confidence is really low right now, and I don’t know where to turn. Do You really have a specific plan for my life? That is an awesome thought.
Help me to see myself, as You see me. Teach me the things I need to learn to fulfill that purpose. I place myself into Your hands, because I trust in Your opinion of me. Thank You, Heavenly Father for believing in me. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Helpful Resources: Jeremiah 1:5; John 14:13; 16:24; Romans 8:28-29; Romans 12:4-13.
When you feel threatened:“Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up” (Hebrews 12:3).
I don’t know who else to turn to for making the bullies stop their aggression. It seems no one can stop them. They intimidate and frighten everyone. I don’t like being afraid, and it upsets me when I see them beating on others. Help me to know when to make a stand and when to ignore the threats. Please send us someone who can get them to stop.
If I cannot help them by showing them You in my life, Lord, then get them out of my way. I thank You, Heavenly Father, for protecting me and keeping me safe. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Psalm 18:3; 91:4-15; 34:4; 138:3; Isaiah 41:10; 54:17; Jeremiah 39:17; Luke 12:4-7; John 10:28; Romans 12:14-21; Colossians 3:25; Hebrews 13:6.
When you have thoughts of suicide: “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (Romans 8:26).
I feel like giving up, for it seems there is no hope in me. I don’t want to go on. I don’t feel like fighting anymore. I need something to hang on to or I’m going to lose it. Show me again, Lord, how much You love me. Please, give me Scriptures that speak of Your promises for me.
I’m very tired, and I need rest. I’m afraid of these thoughts about suicide. Protect my mind, Lord, and clear my head. Help me to think good thoughts about the good things in my life. Remind me of Your goodness to me. I will keep my thoughts on You and praise You.
I thank You, Heavenly Father, for reaching down into my world and drawing me close to You. Thank You for allowing me to soak up your strength during moments like these. I’m clinging to Your strong arm this hour. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 6:13; Philippians 4:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 3:14; 10:23; 10:35-36; 1 Peter 5:8-9
If you’d like to make a difference in the life of a hurting teen, please consider Compassion International. You can effectively help a child in spiritual and financial need through a monthly sponsorship.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions
The Prayer of Examen is more than the typical pre-confession conscience exam. It´s really a prayer, described by St. Ignatius as a key to the spiritual life, that moves from thanksgiving and petition to review, repentance and a resolution. In this blog I explain what it is, and how you can use it with teens in youth ministry, retreats, camps and even at home with your children.
My Experience with “Conscience Exams” for Teens
I have always been taught that at retreats, camps, mission trips, etc., a thorough “conscience exam” at night with the group is an excellent idea. By “conscience exam” I mean a specific prayer based on the person´s reflection of their experience so as to maintain a clean conscience before God. It´s much like going through a confession preparation guide.
I quickly learned that doing these conscience exams, especially at night, helped my group of teens to slow down before going to bed and improve their interest, attitude and behavior for the next day.
Reading about this theme I discovered what is called the “examen prayer”. It brings the “conscience exam” to a whole new level! Below I present you with an overview of this prayer in case you´d like to use it with your own teen groups. I strongly recommend it if you´d like to improve the spiritual quality of your youth events and the spiritual depth of your teens!
Saint Ignatius´ “Examen Prayer”
I learned that St. Ignatius highly esteemed what he called the “prayer of examen”, or “examen prayer”. You can read how he developed this prayer into a cornerstone of the spiritual life in the book The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today by Timothy Gallagher. However, in this article I´m applying Ignatius´ principles for teens.
Ignatius proposes 5 steps in the prayer of examen: show gratitude to God for the blessings of the day, petition for the grace to see and overcome your failings, review the day to see the spiritual experience throughout it, seek God´s forgiveness where necessary, and renew yourself for the next day.
So, in short, the steps are: gratitude, petition, review, forgiveness, renewal.
It´s not just an exam to find what went wrong, as we often do in conscience exams, but also to see what went right; in other words, where is the Holy Spirit leading me? Ignatius considered prayerful attention to one´s interior spiritual experience as the key element of the spiritual life. The examen is meant to do exactly this! The consistent practice of examen will reveal God´s work in one´s life and help guide a corresponding response out of love. Indeed, “our hearts are an arena where many different movements occur”. (St. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises)
This is why the fundamental attitude for a successful examen prayer is to “seek and find the divine will in the disposition of our lives” (Spiritual Exercises, 1). In other words, the sincere desire to know God´s will in my life.
A Very Beneficial Prayer for your Group
The prayer of examen may help teens in many ways, for example:
- recognize how much God does in their lives
- learn to be grateful to God
- understand faults and weaknesses better
- take down masks and live authentically before others
- discover new resolutions they could try
- learn to speak (more) to God
- grow in one´s image of God
Leading the Examen Prayer
It´s important to look concretely at the time frame you are reviewing. Since this is an exam for teens during a retreat or a camp, (I think) it´s best to do so at night before going to bed. This is a good way to review the entire day, set the stage for a good night´s sleep, and prepare for the next day.
However, you could also do so before lunch, or at some point in the evening, or perhaps at the end of the retreat, or scattered throughout the camp. In short, you can experiment a bit with the timing to suit your group´s needs.
The exam can progress in different ways. This will change depending on the style of the leader, the length of time you want the exam to last, and of course the needs of the teens. Here are three ways:
- randomly, as the teens recall significant events to them in the day, or,
- chronologically, beginning in the morning up through the night,
- selectively, if the leader wants to highlight specific moments in the day.
I highly recommend that a qualified adult guide the examen prayer. It´s much easier if it´s guided, especially for teens!
In a one or two night retreat, and even in a one week camp, it´s just too little time to give teens the training and experience they need to actually guide it. Here´s what I recommend as the best way:
- the adult leader guides it completely,
- he can set an example by leading a prayer of his own at some or all of the steps,
- he invites the teens to contribute out loud (perhaps raising their hand for big groups),
- (he can even use an examination of conscience video for step 4).
If you have a large group and several qualified adults, dividing the teen participants into smaller groups may help quite a bit.
Always keep in mind the whole examen is done in the form of a prayer!
Some Extra Tips
For teens new to the exam you may want to focus more on gratitude. This will help the teens recognize God´s love for them, and hopefully help them better welcome the later tougher steps.
If your group does really well at a particular step, take note of that, and consider allowing them to continue expounding on it. This may be how the Holy Spirit wants to work in their souls.
If your group suffers during a specific step, then consider taking the reigns by leading the prayer yourself, or by asking specific questions they can answer.
Keep in mind that you have to battle against the clock and the teen´s desire to pray and examen themselves. Depending on their age and spiritual openness, you may have from as little as 5 minutes and as much as up to 25 minutes. Perhaps you could start out short, and over the length of the camp expand the exam time. In any case, the exam, especially if done at night, becomes a spiritual reflection/prayer of its own to include in the schedule.
Here is a short video I found that might help you understand the examen prayer:
- Jesuit Examination of Prayer (3:46)
Other Ways to Use the Examen Prayer
Some other ways to use the examen prayer are:
- to prepare your group for a large session of confession
- you can use video “conscience exams”, which you can find on youtube
- presenting it and leading it during your youth ministry or CCD night, especially to teach teens to pray it on their own
- teaching parents to pray it, so they can lead the prayer at home for their own children
- leading it during adoration (students pray silently as you lead, the leader offers moments of silence at each step)
- training young adults to lead the prayer in small groups during a retreat, camp, etc.
- doing it at the very beginning of an event, so as to create the right disposition of heart
- …any other ideas?
Next Blog: Examples of Leading the Examen Prayer
Since there is too much material to cover in one blog post, in my next blog post I went over each of the steps in more detail. You’ll find there sample questions and responses, as well as some videos you can use. Click below:
The Examen Prayer for Teens – Part 2
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