Prayer makes our relationship with God stronger, helps us understand where He wants us to go, and enables us to be part of what He’s doing in our world. As parents and spiritual leaders, we should be intentional about praying with and for our children. From a young age, we should be modeling a grateful heart and giving the Lord thanks for our many blessings. But we should also be modeling prayers of intercession, repentance, supplication, etc. Our children should understand that they can go to their heavenly Father with any- and everything. Whether that was the norm in your house or not, teaching teens to pray should not be neglected.
We all come from different walks of life. Some may have been saved young and raised their children to be strong in the faith. Others may have departed for a while and are finding their way back home. Still others may just now be coming to know the Lord and desiring to teach their children about him. No matter which category you fall into you, it is always a good idea to have a focused conversation with your teen about prayer.
How to Introduce the Topic
As with any good lesson, students need to understand how it relates to their lives and how it will benefit them. Helping them connect their lives and how they relate to others with biblical concepts is an effective way to capture their attention. Once you have their attention, they will begin to reflect on the concept and process it in a whole new way.
You can start by reminding them that we receive instructions every day. At home, they have rules and guidelines to follow. At school, their teachers all have certain expectation and instruct them on how to achieve academic milestones. Even while gaming or crafting, they are likely to receive guidance from somewhere (a manual/internet) or someone.
At times, some of those instructions seem so obvious, or we’ve heard them so many times before, that we might be tempted to overlook them. This can be especially true when it comes to prayer. We know the Bible says we need to pray, or risk serious spiritual consequences. But it’s so easy to cut corners in this area. After all, we can always say a quick prayer while we’re doing other things. And God knows what we’re thinking anyway. Yet the fact remains that prayer—sincere, focused, uninterrupted prayer—is among the most important things we can do as believers.
Making a Connection
Help your teen connect to their personal lives by giving them time to reflect on and answer the questions below. Use this discussion to brag on who Jesus is and how he makes an amazing, unrivaled friend!
- Who is your best friend?
- Why do you consider that person a friend?
- What do you share with him/her?
- How do you feel when you are around him/her?
- Do you feel you can trust them with your deepest secrets?
- What do you do together?
- How often do you speak with one another?
Wow! Even as an adult, I am humbled by that fact. The Almighty Creator of the Universe calls me friend. Help your teen understand the magnitude of that statement. And ask them whether or not they are treating Jesus like a friend, acquaintance, or distant stranger. Are they spending time with him or are they pushing him to the side like someone who isn’t really important? Do they discuss their day, feelings, excitement, and worries with him? Or is he being kept in the dark because he knows everything anyway?
Would you be happy if you learned something about your friend through Facebook or by hearing it from someone else? No, you would probably call him/her up and ask what’s going on. You’d probably even wonder if you were still friends! It’s the same with Jesus. He longs to hear from you. He wants you share your life with him and he wants to speak words of direction, encouragement and love into your life. Are you listening?
Teaching Teens to Pray Using Biblical Examples
Your child may be well versed in the Bible or they may not be. Either way, that is totally okay! If they have never heard about David, this is a great character for go deep with. There is so much more to David, that would interest teens, beyond his defeat of Goliath. He overcame many trials and fell short many times, as we all do. Yet, he was called, “A man after God’s own heart.” Below are a few examples of how David prayed, as well two prayers of his son, Solomon. If you would like to go deeper, or want to do another character study, Paul is also a very interesting one. Below are also some of his prayers.
- Protection: Psalm 3 (When he fled from his son Absalom who was trying to kill him to be king.)
- Favor/Justice: Psalm 4
- Guidance: Psalm 5 & Psalm 25
- Mercy: Psalm 6
- Persecution: Psalm 7 (David is still being persecuted. He feels the stress all around him and turns to God to vindicate him.)
- Feeling defeated: Psalm 13 (He chooses to trust God.)
- Protection & Provision: Psalm 23 (David relates as a shepherd.)
- Justice: Psalm 35
- Conviction & Repentance: Psalm 51 (David committed adultery with Bathsheba and a prophet, Nathan was sent to speak to him.)
- Wisdom & Discernment: 1 Kings 3:7-9, 12-13
- Prayer of Dedication: 1 Kings 8:23-61
- Revelation of truth: Acts 9:6 (The Lord made Saul blind for persecuting his people. Saul prayed, and God sent Ananias to restore his sight. Once Saul heard the Lord, he changed forever.)
- Praying & Fasting: Acts 13:1-3
- Maturity and restoration for the Corinthians, Maturity: 2 Corinthians 13:7
- Spiritual strength for the Ephesians: Ephesians 3:14-21
- For the Philippians: Philippians 1:9-11
- Spiritual wisdom for the Colossians: Colossians 1:9-17
Wrapping it Up
This is a good time for you and your child to have an honest reflection on your prayer lives by answering the following questions together:
- What are some ways prayer has made an impact on your life?
- How can you make prayer an even bigger priority in your life?
- How might your life change if you did?
As usual, I would love to hear from you. Have you taught your child(ren) specific lessons about prayer? What other biblical study topics can I add to my research list for you? Comment below or email me directly at [email protected]. Sign up below to receive a free, downloadable copy of the “Teaching Teens to Pray” lesson plan.