I’m staring at my wall this morning with a bunch of emails that need tending, and tasks to be completed before 5. I’m a little hungry and my mind keeps wandering and I’m really tempted to just have a game night with our middle schoolers because it seems easier than talking about the Holy Spirit.
But I know that it’s just a moment of distraction, a little bit of tired sinking in from the 2 year old induced all nighters we’ve been experiencing lately as parents. I’m tempted to look at my wedding pictures for a few more minutes, thinking to myself, “so that’s what we looked like before we had children.”
Life is like this. It ebbs and flows. It fires fast and quietly slows.
We find ourselves wondering how we got ourselves into a few messes that we didn’t really have time for while daydreaming about a few more messes that we’d rather be swimming in. And the awesome beautiful reality of our every day walking around life is waiting for us to wake up and dive in.
So, I need a little prayer and I’m guessing you probably need one to. If you pray for me, I promise I’ll pray for you (sorry about the borderline Michael W. Smith quote there, totally didn’t mean to do that…unless you really like that song, then I totally meant to do that.)
I’m praying for you . . .
- For your friendships to grow deeper. For your ministries to thrive in healthy ways.
- For your homes to be messy and for that to be OK.
- For your conversations to be full of grace.
- For you to be able to say “no” a few times today so that you can say “yes” to what matters most.
- For your influence and leadership abilities to be strengthened.
- For your awesome families. For your boyfriend or girlfriend.
- For your husband or wife–may they be blessed and find themselves overflowing with full cups.
- For your amazing kids (both biological and ministry-logical).
- For you to adopt someone into your family that is a bit invisible. That you would
- know someone and love someone more than you love yourself.
The Instagram creeper within me–prays for your pictures to be seasoned with good food and funny moments, life, laughter, and little obsessions with triangles and chevron, dirt bikes, and glowing city lights.
I’m praying for God to give you what you need today. And for you to have fun doing whatever you find yourself doing. To serve in ways that give you life. And to know that you are loved.
I’m praying you would know that you are loved, not for what you do or how many kids walk through the door, but loved because you are you. And for you to know that you were worth Jesus to God and that’s just something we don’t hear very often because we are usually the ones saying it.
God bless you with purity of heart and mind today. With clarity and strength. With a catalytic converter that turns your doldrums into passionate service.
So we’re up and at ’em. We’ve got dragons to slay–but in the meantime, it’s comforting to know that we stopped for a moment and took time to pray.
(Oh, and cheers to Michael W. Smith, and the rhyming and whimsical Dr. Suess . . . I appreciate the way you’ve subtly influenced this post.)
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:
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Set up –
I took lost and found items we had in our youth group and put them on a table.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Use the chalk to write, or draw what you praise God for, and what you are thankful to Him for.
Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. -Psalm 106:1
Wipe Your Sins Away
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. 1 Timothy 2:1
Pray for You
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.
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?
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Use this quick lesson to help your youth ministry discover the importance of prayer.
Say: A couple of weeks ago while I was on a business trip, I was talking on my cell phone with my wife (yes, they do more than send text messages!).
I had just received some great news and was excited to share it with her.
Suddenly, I realized that she hadn’t said anything for several seconds.
I looked at my screen and it said that we still had a connection.
I said her name several times and waited for a response but did not get one.
I was frustrated because I was pretty sure that she was still on the line, but for some reason my conversation was only working one-way.
After hanging up and trying again, we were able to resume the conversation, but later I got to thinking about my experience and realized that prayer can sometimes feel the same way.
I know that God can hear me when I pray, but when His voice feels silent in my life, I sometimes wonder if the connection only works one-way.
Read 1 Kings 19:11-13
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain, ” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave…”
Say: In this story, Elijah was searching for God. First, he looked for Him in a windstorm, then a powerful fire, but God was not in either of those things.
This was a very significant experience for Elijah because God had established a pattern of appearing in these ways over hundreds of years when communicating with His people.
God appeared in a burning bush to Moses in Exodus 3 and in billows of smoke on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19 with winds that shook the ground.
Despite these patterns, Elijah does not feel God’s presence until he hears the faintest of whispers.
Do you ever find yourself expecting God’s voice to come in windstorms and explosive fireworks?
I know that when I am desperately seeking God in prayer, I most often want to hear or see His response in very obvious, visible ways.
If I am sick, I pray for healing and want to feel better immediately.
If I need help with a problem, I want a clear solution.
If I am in emotional pain, I want God make the pain go away.
Sometimes, though, I feel the same way I did during my dropped call with my wife.
I talk to God in prayer and feel and see no change.
It is in those moments that I need to remember that God’s voice sometimes comes in a gentle whisper.
He doesn’t always work in dramatic ways.
Sometimes it is in the little things that God moves the most.
I might not feel healthy right away, but He may nudge me toward the help that I need.
A solution may not present itself to fix my problems, but He can use those problems to make me stronger.
The pain may not always go away immediately, but He sometimes uses that pain to remind of all that He has blessed me with.
These are just a few tangible ways that God speaks through a whisper.
How are you looking for God to respond to your prayers?
Maybe the connection hasn’t been lost.
Perhaps you are just not listening carefully enough.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
How has God spoken or moved in your life in a way that seems like a powerful wind or fire?
How has God spoken or moved in your life in a way that seems like a gentle whisper?
What things in your life can make it difficult for you to hear God’s whisper?
Why do you think that God uses a whisper sometimes instead of a dramatic experience?
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If you liked this lesson, you will enjoy this…
Youth Group Game on Prayer
It’s here. 2016 is calling out to us. Every new year inspires us to be who God has created us to be in a more committed and faithful way. We all hope to rise above our failures and to enjoy even the smallest victories throughout the new year. I do believe in New Year’s resolutions. I believe they focus us and give us something to aim for.
Kurt’s post from last week inspired me. Immediately, I connected to three of the things he listed:
Be a more open listener to criticism.
Spend more time at the feet of Jesus.
Be a more intentional mentor to others.
I will commit to these three things and every time I remember them I will also remember three prayers. The truth in my life is that resolutions without devotion to prayer are as useless as a car without tires. Year after year I’ve committed to resolutions like I commit to a new diet. I will myself to reach new goals. Here’s the problem-I’m not that good. I’m undisciplined and better at starting things than finishing things. If I don’t reach a goal I will live, try again next year. But I can not live without prayer. So I resolve to pray. I will keep my list of resolutions on the wall and these prayers in my heart: 3 prayers to pray over and over again in 2016…
Lord, give me eyes to see the unloved. With your sight I will see and serve the one who feels invisible. With your sight I will see and love the person who feels unseen and unloved. Take off my blindfolds and fill me with the courage to love.
Loving God, help me see you in the face and heart of every student, every parent, every person you place in front of me today. When I see you I will embrace you and serve you. Humble me Lord so that my pride will not keep me from recognizing you.
Holy Spirit guide me. Speak to me in every moment. Love through me in every moment. In every moment draw me closer to you and let me know your love that I might love others as you love me.
May our prayers give us the strength and courage to reach our resolutions and may our resolutions keep us more committed than ever to go to God in prayer.