It’s a tough world. The devil, our fallen nature, a self-centered and materialistic culture, all are having a powerful effect on a vast segment of the population, and nowhere is this more evident than among young people.
As adults, our best intentions in working with youths are not good enough. Ultimately, the battle for the hearts, minds and souls of (young) people is spiritual. One thing I’ve learned in youth ministry is that I just don’t have the means to win that battle. There is nothing I can do to ensure a young person will turn from the lures of this world and toward Jesus. But God can!
I pray often for young people. I pray for the youths in the world. I pray for the young people in our church. I pray for the three children in my family. I implore God to counteract the magnetic pulls of this world. Programs, plans, mission statements and activities on a human level have little effect. But when we humbly bow and ask for God’s intervention, awesome things begin to happen.
It is important for our children to hear us pray. It is important for them to hear us pray for them. As we model prayer, they begin to see that talking to God is something they can do. Some of the most powerful and inspiring prayers I’ve ever heard have come from children.
Impressing other humans is not the purpose of prayer. But I’ve eavesdropped on prayers of young people. I had the privilege of listening in on prayers of a group of teenage boys at camp some years ago. These boys were 14, 15 and 16 years old. They were gathered in a circle, hands clasped. One after another, they opened their hearts to God, sharing the challenges they face in their schools, neighborhoods and families. Tears came to my eyes as I listened to these remarkable, heartfelt prayers of teenage boys. If they were concerned about how they sounded in front of each other, I couldn’t tell it. It sounded as if they were all alone with their Creator!
Regardless of whether we are working with children, preteens, adolescents or college students, prayer should be central to our ministry. In fact, would you mind pausing now and praying for some young person that you know? Why not go to the Source of all power, wisdom and glory to ask for help for the wonderful young people that he has put before us? Why not now?