As I consider this idea of prayer, I am always amazed as I hear countless stories about teenagers who have been given the authority to pray for those in need. Physical healings, demonic deliverances, spiritual direction, ministry revival, addictions destroyed, relationships healed and salvations are just a few. This has been my experience across the nation and around the world as we release young people to do God’s work.
The Spirit of God is alive and moving amongst our teens in amazing ways, causing a chain reaction that is unstoppable. Teens are serious about their faith and can’t wait to see what God will do next to their friends, family members and classmates. This is what happens when we give teens a license to pray!
Teens Desire to Pray
I can’t tell you how many teenage discussion groups I have participated in where the question of prayer has made it’s way to the surface. In almost every case, regardless of the group or religious belief, teenagers acknowledged their participation in prayer at some level. Many surveys communicate that as high as 80% of all teens in the U.S. say that they pray, and 40% of the 80% say they pray on a daily basis. There is no doubt that many teens are searching for hope and believe that there is something big enough to provide it.
So we have a great hunger for prayer spreading across our nation, but we must also realize that the definition of prayer can hold a variety of meanings within the teen culture. Simply put, you and I have a real opportunity to expose the power of prayer in Jesus Christ to our friends, family members, youth groups and churches. Perhaps most important, is revealing the power of prayer to students who have no idea who Jesus Christ is.
So where do we start? How do we get those around us who have never experienced the power of prayer in Jesus Christ to understand it? To desire and pursue it? To use it?
We Need To Put Them in the Driver’s Seat
Have you ever noticed that when you are riding in the car as a passenger, you don’t pay much attention to directions? In many cases, you arrive at your destination and have no idea how you got there. But move a couple of feet over into the drivers seat and you experience a total brain shift that helps you remember the details of the directions.
Or how about before getting your drivers license you observed driving situations thousands of times and paid little attention. But when you realized it would be your turn behind the wheel you started to focus in on every detail. The moment of truth in your learning experience came when you actually sat in the drivers seat. All the teaching and observing prepared you for that moment.
The truth is, we can write and talk about prayer all we want, but to see the Kingdom of God experienced here on this earth we must instruct, model, partner and release teenagers to do just that – pray. We must give them a license to pray for each other.
Jesus modeled this life of prayer with his disciples on many occasions. He provided instruction, gave them an example, prayed for others with them and then released them to pray on their own. John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Movement, was known around the world for demonstrating this same example. He would give instructions for ministry time, invite someone to pray with him, and then he would send them off to pray for someone else.
It’s important for us to do the same thing in our youth ministries. We need to show teenagers that prayer really works. None of us would sustain a desirable prayer life just because it’s the right thing to do. We continue to pray because it works. The life changing power of God is revealed through prayer and when we see and feel that power, prayer will become part of our life.
When We Allow Teens to Pray—God Blows Them Away!
A couple of weeks ago we had a worship ministry night in our youth group at a midweek service. Out ministry attracts a fair number of unchurched teens on most weeks and this night was no different. At the beginning of the service I gathered six or seven of our youth who had been through these prayer ministry steps described earlier; instruct, model, partner and tonight was their time to be released. They were in the drivers seat. I could see this nervous anticipation on their faces as they considered what the evening might hold.
In short, we had an amazing night of worship and for two hours we witnessed the awesome power of God through prayer. Dozens upon dozens of youth in pockets all over the auditorium praying for each other. Youth on their knees weeping before God in worship. Youth who had been to church numerous times experiencing God in a new and refreshing way. Emotional and spiritual healings were so abundant they were hard to count. Walls were shattered for youth who had doubted God’s existence. Students experienced His undeniable presence all because a few teens were given the license to pray.
We had started the night by releasing six or seven youth to pray, but before the night was over, that number had increased like wildfire. We must have had fifty youth on a mission to hear God’s voice and pray for others. It wasn’t teens just doing something because everyone else was doing it; you could actually see them waiting for the very presence of God to guide them.
What I have realized is that God has given each of us the chance to instruct, model, partner and release teenagers in prayer. And if we do our part, they will expand the Kingdom of God in ways we never thought possible.