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.
If you wonder how exactly to pray for the United States, your state, city and church, you aren’t alone. Observing the National Day of Prayer may seem a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with the following Scriptures and list of topics, and soon the prayers will be pouring forth.
I. Reflect on these scripture verses to set the tone for your observance of The National Day of Prayer.
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ~~ II Chronicles 7:14
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance (v. 12). ~~ Psalm 33:12-22
I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them. ~~ Matthew 18:19-20
Then Jesus told His disciples…that they should always pray and not give up. ~~ Luke 18:1
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~~ Philippians 4:6, 7
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. ~~ I Timothy 2:1-4
II – THROUGH THIS PRAYER GUIDE, you will have an opportunity to petition God on behalf of our leaders and those who are in authority over us, as we are instructed to do in 1 Timothy 2:1-2. As you humbly come before the Lord and seek His face, please pray that these men and women will be granted divine wisdom, guidance, and strength to fulfill their important roles.
Pray for Federal Leaders
President: George W. Bush
Vice President: Dick Cheney
Secretary of State: Colin Powell
Secretary of Defense: Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of the Treasury:
Attorney General: John Ashcroft
Secretary of the Interior: Gale Norton
Secretary of Agriculture: Ann Veneman
Secretary of Commerce: Don Evans
Secretary of Labor: Elaine Chao
Secretary of Transportation: Norman Mineta
Secretary of Energy: Spencer Abraham
Secretary of Education: Rod Paige
Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Anthony Principi
Secretary of Health & Human Services: Tommy Thompson
Secretary of Housing & Urban Development: Mel Martinez
Secretary of Homeland Security: Tom Ridge
All Branches of the Armed Forces U.S. Supreme Court
Pray for State Leaders
State Supreme Court Justices
Pray for Local Leaders
School Authorities (public & private)
Pray for Our Troops:
Pray for their safety, their diligence, and that many will turn to God in faith.
Churches and Ministry Organizations
Courage and Strength
Ask God to help them:
* Stand strong in their convictions
* Be bold in their witness
* Meet America’s spiritual needs
* Be a place of hope and healing
The Imprisoned and Persecuted
Protection and Unity
Ask God to help them:
* Endure their hardships
* Find joy in the midst of trials
* Encourage one another
* Find comfort in their faith
Mass Media, Cultural and Social Services
Wisdom and Knowledge
Ask God to help them:
* Reflect godly values in their work
* Be accurate and fair in their presentations
* Place a high value on truth and decency
* Be responsible with their influence
Blessing and Prosperity
Ask God to help families:
* Commit to the permanence of marriage
* Serve one another in love
* Be dedicated to each other
* Restore broken relationships
Personal Renewal and Moral Awakening
Reverence and Humility
Ask God to help us:
* Confess our sins
* Seek His direction
* Rely on Him instead of ourselves
III – WHY PRAY?
We need to pray because the Bible commands us to (Matthew 6:5; Romans 12:12; 1 Thess 5:17). Prayer is how we communicate with God and participate in His works. It grants us the privilege of experiencing God, keeps us humble before Him, strengthens the bonds between believers and can succeed where other means have failed.
Why Pray For Our Nation?
God answers the prayers of His people, and in 2 Chronicles 7:14, He specifically emphasizes the importance of praying for our nation. Ask the Lord to bring about spiritual renewal across America. Pray that people will turn to Him and seek His will for our land.
Why Pray For Our Leaders?
The Bible instructs us to pray for “all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:2). Pray that our leaders will seek God and endeavor to serve Him in a manner that is worthy of their positions of influence.
Why Pray For Our Communities?
Intercessory prayer has the power to change the place where you live. It is time that we took back our communities for the sake of God’s Kingdom and covered them with our humble petitions. Pray for your own city or town, asking God to bless your efforts to reclaim your neighborhood in His name.
Why Pray For Our Families?
God designed the family to be a place of love, support, spiritual growth, and, of course, prayer. Now is the time to pray for this holy institution, which is currently under attack in our country. Ask the Lord to bring peace, guidance and healing to families that are struggling every day.
Why Pray For Our Youth?
The youth of today will grow up to lead Twenty-first-century America. Each day conflicting moral standards, violence, and the latest media scandals bombard them. In the midst of this turmoil, God is raising up an army of young people. Ask the Lord to make them bold and steadfast in their faith.
For more ideas on prayer, visit nationaldayofprayer.org or presidentialprayerteam.org
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?
If you are looking for some good Bible study topics for young people, then I hope these suggestions can be a help to you. You will need to do more personal study in these subjects to be able to teach them effectively, but this is an introduction to what you can teach the youth in your church or things you should be teaching your own children.
Dealing With Temptation
Everyone deals with temptation (1 Corinthians 10:12, 13). Even Jesus Himself was not immune to the devil’s trials (Matthew 4:3-11). When teaching about temptation to young people you should encourage them in the fact that we all struggle with temptation. But don’t allow them to think that just because we all struggle with it that it makes it right to obey the temptation. Temptation is not sin; but, if we yield to the temptation then we fall into sin.
The process of temptation and sin is taught in James 1:13-15. It says that temptation does not come from God. Temptation comes when we are drawn away with our own lusts. This means that each person will be tempted in different ways at different times. What is not a struggle for me can be a cause of sin to someone else. Therefore, we should be sensitive to others and not participate in activities that could cause others to sin. The verses go on to say that when the lust has been allowed to mature it brings sin and ultimately death.
We don’t have to be slaves to the temptations of the devil. By focusing our lives and minds around the Word of God then we will be better equipped to fight the battle with temptation. Here are a couple other articles right here at WhatChristiansWantToKnow that deal with the subject of temptation:
7 tips to avoid temptation
22 Bible verses about temptation
Study on Prayer
Prayer has been called the lifeline for the Christian. It is our way of communicating with God. God has given us His Word so that we can see what He wants to communicate with us. Prayer is given so that we can have a relationship with Him.
The word prayer means to ask, request and even beg. And God invites us to do it. How refreshing. Don’t feel ashamed to go to God and ask Him for what you need (Matthew 7:7, 8). He wants to supply our needs but He wants us to trust in Him for it. If we spend our time asking friends, family and the government to supply our needs and never ask God, then we are not engaged in prayer the way we should be. God has plenty and will take care of His children, but not if they never look to Him for that supply (Matthew 6:25-34).
A great study on prayer for young people can be to study the various prayers in the Bible. Jesus spoke much about prayer in the four gospel accounts. Systematically work through the various teachings of Christ on prayer as you teach.
How to Read and Study Your Bible
Young people need to be taught the value of reading their Bible. Often we hear things like, “the Bible should not be read like any other book.” However, I think many times we miss some of the power of the Bible because we don’t read it like a book. God has given us His revelation from the beginning of time to the beginning of eternity. He shows His plan systematically through history. Yet we often teach and read the Bible without regard to when events took place chronologically.
Read the Bible from beginning to end. Find out how God reveals His plan little by little. Don’t be guilty of teaching and reading the Bible without considering the context that surrounds what is being read.
Then, of course, there is a need to study the Bible through individual stories and studies. There are many great ways to study the Bible. Teaching various Bible study methods will help young people approach the Bible to find answers to their questions.
Being a Disciple of Christ
What does it mean to follow Christ? That is the question on which the New Testament is focused on answering. Study the life of Christ and His followers, but don’t stop there in learning how to live for the Lord. A great place to start your study is Romans chapter 12, I wrote a summary that you may want to review here: Romans 12: Bible Study and Summary. This chapter, as well as the rest of Romans, tells practical things that a disciple of Christ should be doing.
The 10 Commandments
Study the 10 commandments in context as well as what they have meant historically. An interesting study for young people would be to find out which countries use the 10 commandments or the Mosaic law as part of their founding and constitution.
God’s law, and specifically the 10 commandments, can be effectively used as a soul-winning tool. Christ did not do away with the law when He came, but He completed the law (Matthew 5:17). The law is in place to show sinners their need of a Savior (Galatians 3:23, 24).
As a young person it would be good to study about and learn your spiritual gift. There are two main passages in the Bible dealing with spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 8. There are other passages too, but these are the two large ones. When studying about or teaching the spiritual gifts you should have a good understanding of these two passages.
There are spiritual gifts tests that can be taken to help people know what their spiritual gifts are. Even without taking a test, a young person who is following God properly and living in obedience to his parents and other authority around him is probably already using his spiritual gifts. Work to encourage that behavior in the young people you are teaching.
Controlling the Tongue
The Bible often talks about the tongue being a destructive power (Jeremiah 9:8). Controlling the tongue is a difficult thing (James 3:6-8). The tongue can pour out blessings and cursings (James 3:9, 10). It is unnatural for a well to give sweet and salty water, yet we do it with our tongues.
Learning to control the tongue is a sign of spiritual maturity. The tongue can also bring healing to others (Proverbs 12:18, Proverbs 15:4).
God has clear instructions to men and women in marriage. God also tells us what He expects from us as godly leaders of our homes. Study passages in the Bible on how God wants men and women to live. Also spend time studying the relationship men and women should have towards one another.
While doing a study of relationships and marriage you can teach young people how they should approach marriage so that they can prepare themselves for their future mate.
The Bible often talks about us forgiving others because of the forgiveness we have found in Christ (Matthew 6:12-15, Luke 6:37). We are specifically commanded that we should forgive others before we ask the Lord for forgiveness (Mark 11:25).
Forgiveness should not be done hypocritically. We should be honest in our forgiveness of others (Mark 7:6). This is also not denying that there is a problem. To forgive does not necessarily mean to forget. The Bible says that God does “not remember” our sins, but this means that He does not hold them against us (Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 8:12). We may not be able to forget the past actions of others, but we don’t have to hold that sin against them in our future dealings with them.
Forgiveness is a topic that young people need to study and understand. These are trying times in their lives when they will be put to the test. However, forgiveness does not get any easier as they get older. They must learn to forgive so that they can live a victorious Christian life.
Basic Bible Doctrines
There are some basic Christian beliefs that every Christian young person should know. It would make a good study to spend time going through some basic Bible doctrines in your personal study or in Sunday School class at church.
Here are some of the basic topics of Bible doctrines to get you started:
- Who God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are.
- What the Bible is and why God wrote it for us.
- Why God created man and how God plans to save mankind.
- What the church is and how it fits into Gods purposes.
Do you have any topics you believe are critical for young people to learn? Write a comment below and share with us your thoughts.
Here are some more Bible study articles that might be of interest to you:
Hebrews 11: Bible study on faith
Bible study about God’s grace
Fear of death Bible study
YouTube video “Life Song” by Casting Crowns
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