Sometimes the teenagers we love go through season of pain and suffering, and we quickly reach the limits of our human ability to help. We long to pour out our hearts to God, but it can be hard to find words when we are worried or afraid. Thanks be to God, we who have the Holy Spirit do not have to form perfect phrases, because “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). But there are times when it is a comfort to us to speak words, to pray out loud from the Scriptures, because as we pray we are reminded of the promises and character of God who loves our teenagers more than we can imagine. Over the next few weeks we will offer you prayers you can use as a starting point to lift up the teenagers you love to the Lord. We hope these will encourage you to remain steadfast in prayer, for “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (Jas. 5:16).
The outskirts are where no teen longs to be. To be on the outside, booted and marginalized, considered unworthy and labeled as, “not one of us” is the worst-case scenario. That’s why the chief felt need of teens is to be accepted. All competing values tend to bow to this master.
Those teenage years are a season of experimenting, stretching, reaching, and testing. They are years brimming with life. But the overconfidence of childhood is shaken so thoroughly that nothing feels secure anymore… not unless, and until, you’re accepted by peers.
And so, we, their elders watch them make the silliest of mistakes, the worst of errors. They enslave themselves to the approval of their friends. They genuinely believe they’ve outgrown us in wisdom. They’ve convinced themselves that they can stray from the path and remain unscathed.
Of course, if there weren’t any stakes, and if we could somehow detach our hearts from the matter, the level of predictability is laughable. When they reach the end of the “trying to be cool” road, we just want to slap our foreheads at them and say, “Told you so… moron.”
But, no. We do care. And the stakes are high. That’s why we pray.
We Pray for God to Satisfy Their Desires
Father, you have intimately placed sacred longings into my child’s heart: to desire love and acceptance, to seek completion, purpose and relationships. But only you can ultimately fulfil those longings. Would you now do so in my child? Reveal yourself so strongly that any other object of their desire dims in comparison. Make them glad in you, and in you alone.
Satisfy them in the morning with your steadfast love, that they may rejoice and be glad all their day (Ps. 90:14).
We Pray for the Gospel to Secure Them
O, God, without you securing us we are like dead fish floating in the river of worldly thoughts. Root my child to what’s true of them according to Christ; not their peers, not their achievements, not their failings, and not their successes. Open their eyes to the truth, and by it, satisfy their desires.
So that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith—that they, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love for them (Eph 3:17-18).
We Pray God Grants Them Wisdom to See “Beyond”
Lord, would you grant my child wisdom to examine, perhaps for the first time, the rationality (or lack thereof) of their decisions. Give them the mind to what’s beyond the sin, or impulse, or pressure in front of them. Offer them, viscerally, a vision of their life trajectory if they bow to their peers versus bowing to you.
For are they now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or are they trying to please man? If they were still trying to please man, they would not be a servant of Christ (Gal 1:10).
“Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Ps 1:5-6).
We Pray for Godly Friends
Heavenly Father, in your wise power, bring friends into my child’s life who are accepting only of what bears the fragrance of Jesus. A friend group that is allergic to the heinous ways of the world. A friend group that believes to “be cool” is to be godly.
Help my child believe that “whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov 13:20).
We pray all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.