Getting starting praying can seem a little overwhelming. You’re talking to God, the creator of the universe. What should you say? How should you say it? What if He thinks what you’re praying is dumb? Talk about pressure! All of these things can be things that stop you from praying. So, how should we pray?
Jesus’ disciples asked Him the same thing. “One day he was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, ‘Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.’” – Luke 11:1 (Message). The disciples came to Jesus and asked Jesus for tips on how to pray. Jesus responded with verse two, “So he said, ‘When you pray, say, Father, Reveal who you are. Set the world right.” – Luke 11:2 (Message). Jesus’ first tip on prayer for the disciples was about getting to know God. He mentioned asking God to reveal who He was. The first tip to successful prayer is knowing who God is.
Knowing who God is will really help you when you pray. Think of it this way, until you know someone, you can’t really have a deep conversation with them. You can probably think of a good friend that you can talk about anything with. You can tell them anything and talk to them for hours. You can do this easily because you know who they are. The same is true in knowing God. Once you get to know Him its easy to talk to Him. Once you know who He is and what He has done for you, it becomes easier to pray.
So, I encourage you to spend some time getting to know God’s character. Boldness in prayer comes as a result of knowing who God is. As you get to know God, you’ll feel bolder when you go to pray. Learning to pray starts with knowing who God is.
Listen: Relentless by Hillsong United
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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
- 1 Six ways to grow your prayer life in 2019
- 2 Top Bible verses about prayer
- 3 Why Pray?
- 4 Four ways to care for the persecuted church
- 5 Why you should start a prayer journal
- 6 Learn to pray Jesus’ way
- 7 Four ingredients for praying with confidence.
- 8 How the Lord’s Prayer can help us pray
- 9 Why bother praying?
- 10 How prayer journals help me focus
- 11 Unanswered prayer
- 12 The habit of praying together
Six ways to grow your prayer life in 2019
Grow your time with God with these practical tips and ideas.
Top Bible verses about prayer
Here are our top 10 scriptures on prayer—including free wallpapers!
Three reasons you should pray…and pray often!
Four ways to care for the persecuted church
How (and why!) you should show your love for persecuted Christians
Why you should start a prayer journal
Do you struggle to make time with God a priority? You’ll love these tips!
Learn to pray Jesus’ way
How to use the Lord’s prayer to deepen your time with God.
Four ingredients for praying with confidence.
(most people forget at least one of these)
How the Lord’s Prayer can help us pray
Jesus taught his disciples a simple prayer that you can use every day.
Why bother praying?
If God knows everything already, then what difference does prayer make?
How prayer journals help me focus
Many of us find praying hard, but writing down your thoughts can help!
How to know, that your prayers have been heard.
The habit of praying together
Find out why there is great strength in numbers.
Do you remember the story of Hannah? Here’s a refresher: Every year a man and his two wives (Hannah and Peninnah) would go to Shiloh to offer sacrifices and worship the Lord. Peninnah had several sons and daughters, but Hannah had none. Peninnah would tease and torment Hannah about her barrenness until Hannah was so upset she couldn’t even eat. Have you ever felt like that? All you can think about is that one thing that is bothering you? No matter what things in life are good, your troubles take all your energy and focus. It’s a crumby place to be. Hannah’s husband loved her and tried to console her, telling her that there were other things in life to make her happy, not least of which was their relationship. “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8) Hannah took her longing and hurts to the Lord. She went to the Lord’s temple and poured her heart out to Him in prayer, begging Him to give her a son. She promised that if He did, she would give her son to the Lord’s service. I find it interesting that before she even knew how the Lord would answer her prayer, she left the temple with gladness. After she asked the Lord for help she felt the weight of her grief lifted even though her circumstance hadn’t changed and nothing was different–somehow she was different. Perhaps it was her faith that God had heard her prayer that changed her heart and given her enough hope to continue. Perhaps God’s answer was to give her peace, or maybe just the knowledge that it was in God’s hands was enough for her. Either way, Hannah left with a new attitude. “Then she went away and ate something and her face was no longer down cast.” (1 Samuel 1:18) What can we learn from faithful Hannah? Even though her circumstances where rough, she put her hope in the Lord and His ability to change her circumstances, but He did more than that; He changed her. He lifted the burden of her pain and gave her hope.
1 Samuel says that God remembered Hannah and gave her a son. In this situation He chose to answer her prayer and grant the desire of her heart. For the second time, Hannah pours out her heart to the Lord, this time her response to the Lord’s blessing is a beautiful psalm-like prayer.
“Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed. “The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry hunger no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away. “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; upon them he has set the world. He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. He will thunder against them from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
The last words of her prayer; “his anointed” in Greek can be translated “Christos” or Christ. Could this prayer be a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah? It sure sounds like it. Read Luke 1 and you will see many similarities between Mary’s song and Hannah’s. Hannah didn’t know it at the time, but the suffering and hurt that caused her to pray and promise was used to become a blessing for many. The son that God granted her was Samuel, a prophet of the Lord that spoke God’s Word to the people. Her reference to the Lord’s anointed was the first in Bible. It would be though her son that the Lord would anoint
Israel’s first king, Saul, and it’s greatest king; David. Hannah’s prayer points us to the ultimate fulfillment of kingship and deliverance for the weak in Christ. God changed Hannah’s grief into joy for her and for countless others. God used what was painful and changed it into something amazing. I wonder if Hannah ever knew
Like Hannah we can bring our every sorrow to God in prayer and trust that He hears us. Perhaps He will change our circumstances; He is able to do it if it is His will. Perhaps He will change us. He can use our pain and work through our suffering to bring glory to His name and blessings to others. We don’t always know how God will answer our prayers, but we can trust Him. He has more planed for us than we ever expected!