Monday on the youth ministry side of the blog, we looked at St. Paul’s “rubric” of three different types of prayers we can speak over our students. Today, we’ll take a closer look at prayers of petition.
Are you ever baffled by what constitutes a “normal” week in the life of a High Schooler? While I am still relatively new to Youth Ministry, the schedule of a 2019 teen never ceases to amaze me. School, soccer practice, ACT tutor, friend drama, dance class, SAT tutor, service projects, college prep tutor… I often feel anxious for them as I listen to their weekly routines.
I recently sat across from a student who was suffering in just about every area of her life: poor grades, messy friend drama, and parent tension seemed to be the dominant themes of her sophomore year. When I got in my car after our meeting, I began to pray for her, but quickly became overwhelmed. What was the name of her ex again? What test did she say she had today? What did she say she was grounded for this weekend? Lord, help!
I would imagine you can think of similar instances in your own ministry. Given the intense load of a teenager, praying for students can seem daunting. And on my worst days, I must admit, it can feel pointless. Of course, this is a lie straight from the evil one, who would love nothing more than for me to abandon hope and neglect to lift students up to the Lord in prayer.
On day two of Rooted in Prayer, we want to set aside time to intentionally pray for our students—imperfect as our prayers may be! We can rest assured that the Holy Spirit “cleans up” our prayers as they are presented to the Father, granting us freedom to pray for the wrong subject or miss the ex-boyfriend’s name.
Practically, I have found the car to be an excellent place to pray for students. I am always surprised at whom the Lord might put on my heart when I actually take the time to turn off my music or podcast and pray for students intentionally. Or maybe in your next youth team or volunteer meeting, you can dedicate the first 5 minutes to praying for students by name. Is there a big test or project you keep hearing about that could be prayed for? Or perhaps a certain cultural trend that you can pray against? Or maybe pray Ephesians 3:14-21 over any students who need reminders of the Lord’s great love for them.
Even more assuring than the Holy Spirit taking our prayers to the Father is His faithfulness in answering them. Of course, we know that His version of an answered prayer often does not match our own. It may be that though we have begged the Lord to heal the student with an eating disorder, He may not do so until she is 23. It may be that the student we are so desperate to see make the baseball team on his 3rd year trying is being protected in the rejection yet again. And it may be that the student we so long to come to know the Lord will not do so until their across the street neighbor shares the gospel with them again in their 40s.
Even still, we know that the Holy Spirit is at work through our prayers. They are not offered in vain. Let us then approach the throne of grace with boldness on behalf of our students. When we don’t know what else to pray, we can always ask that the Lord would deepen their desire for Him and His Word—a prayer we know He delights to answer in his perfect timing.
Lord, I ask that you would give Melissa peace during her play audition this weekend. I pray for Jack who seems to be feeling anxious about his history project. I pray for Kate who mentioned she had been fighting with her brother this week. Lord, I sense that Mary is really hurting but I can’t seem to get her to open up. Would you allow her to feel your presence and come meet her in her hurt? If not me, would you provide someone she feels safe opening up to who can walk alongside her? Above all, Lord, I ask that you would comfort [students’] hearts and establish them in every good work and word (2nd Thessalonians 2:17).
Head over to Rooted Parent today as we pray together as a community, words of petition on behalf of our students.