Prayers for a Teenager With a Difficult Family Life

comfort kid

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).

Over the years, I have offered countless prayers for my students—for those suffering loss, those who are sick, those struggling with friends. Yet, it’s the prayers offered for students withstanding difficult family situations that are often the hardest for me. Because those are the prayers which most consistently bring me face-to-face with the reality that all I can do is cry out to the God of their rescue.

It is painful to watch our students experience suffering because of their circumstances, or even because of another’s sin; yet our God is faithful. He cares deeply for the family unit—in fact, he wrote his story of redemption through it. Knowing this, I trust he will use even difficult family situations to draw his children near. So, may we labor in faithful prayer for our students in difficult family situations, trusting the Author and Perfecter of their faith to see them through.

Lord God,

Be near. My heart aches as I watch my student impacted by this difficult circumstance. She did not choose her family; but you did. While it may be hard to see your hand at work in this moment, we know you are there. You have written your redemption through family, so Lord, we proclaim your faithfulness and we plead your hand of mercy for this particular family.

As this student experiences the brokenness of her immediate family, strengthen and confirm her experience of the family of faith. Lord, protect her from harm and deepen her faith. Reveal your glory to her in new ways. Show yourself as her good Father and her perfect brother.

God our Father — in the places where this student feels abandoned, fill that emptiness with your Fatherly presence. Make known to her who you are as the father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5). Remind her of her identity as a daughter who is held by the perfect love of her heavenly Father (1 John 3:1). And, even when the ground beneath her shakes, hold her in the firmness of your nature as an unchangeable Father (James 1:17).

Christ our Brother — in the moments when this student feels alone within her family, set her firmly on the rock of your brotherly presence. May she know you as both her Savior and her Brother (Rom. 8:29). For you are the one who makes her holy and — by your holiness — you call her sister (Heb. 2:11). You are a bother who knows her (John 10:3), is near (Phil. 4:4), and who’s nearness is her good (Ps. 73:28). May she know your nearness in a new way this day and feel the comfort of your presence and protection. Draw her into your brotherhood afresh today.

Church as family — God, in the season, as this student faces difficulty within her immediate family, enliven to her the beauty of the family of faith. Bring others believers around her that would embody the truth of Ephesians 2:19: that we are no longer strangers or aliens— therefore, she is neither an outcast nor alone. She is a member of a new family, the family of God. Remind her that she is part of a family that expands beyond the walls of her home. Make known to her the many mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, in their church. Help us to faithfully be that family for her and, in so doing, help us also to love her family as our own.

God, you are our Father and Christ, you are our Brother; help us to live as the family you have created us to be for one another—and especially for this student. May she not fear, knowing you are with her; may she not be dismayed, knowing you are her God. Strengthen her and help her, as you uphold her with your righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

Be near to this brokenhearted student, oh God, for we know you will save her from her crushed spirit (Ps. 34:18).

Thank you for your Word and that we can know you by it. Be faithful to your promises, God, we pray.


Editor’s Note: We know that difficult family dynamics are intensified for many of our students during the holidays. We’re praying that you, dear youth ministers, will be strengthened in every way to bring the light and hope of the gospel into these dark places. Here’s a recent article from our friends at Fuller Youth Institute offering a devotional and some conversation starters you might consider sharing with your students as you continue to pray for them.

After spending 10 years working in youth ministry, Kendal currently serves as a Groups Minister at Redeemer Fellowship in Kansas City, MO. Originally from Memphis, Tenn. Kendal received her BA from Union University. After graduation, she served 2 years overseas working with youth in Central Asia. After returning to America, she spent several years working for a parachurch youth ministry before moving to Oklahoma to serve as a Girls Minister in a local church. Kendal loves to travel, and dreams of one day being able to say she has enjoyed coffee in every country.

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