Give each person a bit of paper and a pen. Get each person to draw a prayer tree on the bit of paper by putting themselves at the top and then doing lines off them listing members of their family, friends and people they work with or go to school with. Get them to write down a load of names – maybe 10, 20, 30, 40 – whatever. Then to put their hand over that prayer tree and pray for each person there. Get them to pray for Christians and non-Christians according to needs they know.
Too often we can be busy doing our youth programmes and miss the needs of the young people. I know I’ve been guilty of this. Why not ask young people for things they want prayer for. One church leader I know asks a different person each week for prayer needs and prays for them all that week. Maybe you could do this.
Alternatively, in small groups, get young people to say one thing they want prayer for and get that whole group to pray for them. Remember to thank God and to remember answers to prayer.
This is just a reminder really about being open to God. Many times the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray. Very often we miss that prompting. How many times must we all be guilty of that? I went to buy a phone and had a conversation with someone there who turned out to also be a secular youth worker and DJ. I just felt that God was on his case. Just be really open to those very small, quiet and fleeting thoughts that seem to pass by quickly like a whisper. Follow that voice of God!
Write it down
Sometimes it helps to write your personal prayers down on a piece of paper maybe in a creative way, then go through each one. Thanks to Colin A who suggested that when you pray, it’s also a good idea to have a pen and paper handy so you can write down thoughts that come to mind. That way you carry on praying without worrying about forgetting stuff!
Weekly young person prayer – Talk to a young person and for each week of the year, pray through their needs and requests. If not too private, or they don’t mind, get all the leaders praying for them that week.
How can we align ourselves with God’s purposed? By praying the Lord’s Prayer. God’s purpose on this earth is to announce the Kingdom of heaven to all the nations that as many people will be saved as can be. Align yourself with God. Pray that his will would be done, that his kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven. We have only a little taster of what heaven is but we have been given enough to know that we must share this with the people of the earth.
Traffic Light 1
Pray when you’re at traffic lights, for the area, the people, things that are worrying you or things God puts into your head. We spent years of our lives at traffic lights, what a good time to pray!
Write a letter to Jesus
Explain that when we pray to God, it can help to speak to Jesus as if he were right there next to you. This helps our prayer to be honest and real – a bit like a chat. We can tell Jesus our needs, our desires and feelings. One way to do this is to write a ‘letter’ to Jesus saying things. Why a letter? Have you noticed how people can be more honest in e-mails? When we write stuff down we are sometimes more open and real. Give everyone a piece of paper and encourage them to write a ‘letter’ to the Lord. Explain that it’s right to thank God, to praise him, to pray for ourselves and for others.
This idea is similar to the Catholic prayer beads idea. The concept is that you wear or keep on your person a little trinket that will help you to pray.
If you have a necklace with a number of beads on it, use this to help you pray a number of different prayers. For each bead, pray a different prayer. If the beads are different colours, let each colour remind you of a different subject area to pray for.
For example, if there are 5 different colours let one colour remind you to pray for your friends, one for your church, one for yourself, one for family, one for missionaries in the UK and abroad.
You can use a necklace to the same effect, or a bracelet. The lads could use a multi-coloured watch strap or something a bit more ‘laddish’!
There are many occasions when we put things or idols in front of God. This can range from football to music to our partner. We can also idolise people in the church, or our Christian job or a certain Christian band etc.
Therefore, why not make a real effort to give up doing something that you really enjoy and instead commit the time you would have spent doing that activity, to prayer. This will be a different thing for each of us. I quite enjoy going to the football so for me the sacrifice would be to not go to the football but to spend the time at home or elsewhere in prayer.
I believe that this kind of sacrificial prayer (like fasting) will bring greater glory to God and a higher spiritual blessing because God will reward the sacrifice that you make for him. However, as Jesus warns in Matthew 6:7, do not boast about your prayer, but be humble and keep it to yourself.
Commit the day to God
Proverbs 3 says commit your way to God. Why not start in the morning! The Bible says that God waits for us to wake up and looks after us when we sleep. Why not enjoy spending time – the whole day, with God!
Something I’ve often done is to look at the national and international news stories and pray for those things – it may be for peace somewhere, that a killer would be caught, thanking God for justice being done and so on.
Praying for people you’ve spoken to
Just been on the phone? Had a quick chat with the neighbours? Been messaging someone? Pray for that person. Pray God would save them, for opportunities to talk to them about Jesus, for their problems.
Why not ask friends and family if they want or mind you praying for them. What a witness if prayers are answered. Even when they may not appear to be, it’s an opportunity to talk about how God does answer prayer!
I’ve got a list of young people from church, from school, from club that I like to try (!) and pray for as much as possible. Why not do such a list – just keep it from prying eyes!
Pray using the Bible
Why not use a list you’ve made and then use Bible prayers for those people. Ephesians is an amazing book – why not take snippets and pray it over the young people, friends etc. For example use Ephesians 1.16-18 to pray for people.
A kind of scary type of prayer because you are putting yourself in between God’s anger and a situation or people. An example in the Old Testament is in Exodus 32 where Moses pleaded with God not to destroy the people of Israel. Another occasion is in Genesis 18 where Abraham pleads with God not to destroy Soddom and Gomorrah if there were just 10 good people there. This is a powerful and scary prayer because you are putting yourself between God and the outpouring of his justice, instead asking God for mercy. What a privilege but be careful to be called to this. This is an ‘Old Testament’ way of praying as now we have Jesus standing ‘in the gap’ for us before God. But God sees our heart, however we pray!
The Psalms are passionate expressions of people like David’s real life prayers and struggles. Why not use them to pray or let them inspire you in how to pray – notice how many of David’s Psalms end up praising God even when things were tough.
Although Ephesians 6 tells us to pray in the Spirit, this doesn’t mean long-winded prayers! Jesus himself spoke out against these (Matthew 6.7). So why not pray emergency prayers – quick, short ‘exorcet’ missile prayers fired into the heavenly realms in times of need – for you and others. Remember God knows what you need before you pray it! (Matthew 6.8).
Keep a record of things you’ve prayed for and write down answers to prayer. We went to Lithuania with some young people on mission and it was awesome to see the way God had answered prayers – but we only realised this because we wrote down what we prayed and how God answered. Try it if you don’t already – it’s really encouraging!
Pray and fast
Jesus doesn’t say ‘fast if you feel like it’. In Matthew 6.16 Jesus says ‘when you go without eating..’ I also think it’s valid to ‘fast’ or abstain from other things you like – for example TV, music, football. It’s about a willing sacrifice to seek God’s face.
Praying while doing a boring job
Washing, washing up, ironing, all these little boring things. Good chance to pray when we’re not doing something that requires much brain activity. I realise the likelihood of many young people actually doing these things is quite slim. So maybe instead – while walking to school, in the back of the car, waiting for someone to turn up..