This post is part of the weekly series on effective prayer.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
~Psalms 119:9 NASB
Young adults—those between the ages of 13-25—are a critical part of our congregations. They are making more and more life-altering choices with each passing day. They are surrounded by people still trying to “figure things out” and whatever they may say to the contrary, they are heavily influenced by their peers.
According to a Barna Study, “three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.” (For the link to the article, click here.)
There are lots of reasons people leave the church at any age. Those reasons are best addressed in another post. The point is, we have a problem. The majority of the young people in our congregations are walking away from church.
If you have been following the blog for awhile, you know that each week I post a suggested prayer focus for that week. You may be thinking, “prayer alone won’t fix the problem, we have to do something!” I agree that prayer and action should go hand-in-hand, however, prayer should never be minimized as a do-nothing approach. When we pray, we are going to the One who is all-powerful. Prayer should never be an afterthought. Don’t pray and be unwilling to take action, but do not take action without praying.
If you have a list of the names of the young people in your congregation, that would be ideal so you can lay each person’s name before God the Father. If the number is too large, then pray for the group as a whole.
Here are some suggestions on what to pray for:
Pray that they will have mentors and friends (this could be you!) who will teach and encourage them to have a solid foundation in the Word of God.
This isn’t about quantity. It’s about quality.
I am indebted to the people who were passionate about serving the Lord, who encouraged me to be like-minded and who befriended me as well. Those people kept me from throwing up my hands in frustration and walking away… and they were not always my age. The twenty-somethings who were the same age as my older brother allowed me—a little 13 year old sister—to tag along with them while they went bowling or had bonfires or whatever. Through this astonishing group of young people, I saw that you can have fun and still glorify God through what you talk about, how you behave and how you treat of others. You can be fun to be with and still love God. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Pray that the young men will learn to be good leaders in the church and that the young ladies will learn how best to serve God and others.
They are watching.
They are watching you. And me. And that guy across the aisle. Are you excited to be there? Are you concerned for others?
They need good examples. Be that example. The more of us that can set an example worth following, the better!
Pray that the current leaders will help the young adults become invested in the church.
I am not referring to a monetary investment here.
Too often we want are kids to do activities or be “ministered to.” What we really need is to teach them how to minister to others. Train them to serve. Have them come alongside and work with you. The more involved they are in helping, the less eager they will be to jump ship.
I have some very dear friends who are close to my mom’s age who took me camping, to symphonies, to movies and also asked me to teach little kids’ classes with them. They invested in me outside of church activities and also brought me alongside for important church activities. I am thankful to those individuals. We need to become those individuals.
Pray that their parents will have wisdom to guide them through this difficult period of life.
If you are the parent of a teenager, you know that it is challenging to deal with the emotional swings and the peer pressure that come along with that age. (I have little children, so I am no expert here!)
The Bible tells fathers not to provoke their children to anger. The teen years—with all the hormones and new responsibilities—provide lots of opportunities for a clash of wills. Anger flares up from time to time, but a good parent knows what is a reasonable anger, and what is unreasonable. It takes heaps of wisdom to discern this. Pray that the parents will have godly wisdom to train their kids in such a way as not to provoke unhealthy anger. I highly recommend Kevin Leman’s Have a New Kid By Friday. The title sounds gimmicky, but it’s full of sensible parenting tips that are useful at any age… but especially in the teen years.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
~Ephesians 6:4 ESV
Pray for them to stand strong against temptation.
This has been and always will be a struggle, especially during this stage of life. The temptations they face can be the difference between life and death. Drugs, teen pregnancy, premarital sex, habitual laziness, eating disorders, addictions… scary! Those were all around when I was a teenager. Pray for them to stand strong against temptation and maybe look into having some classes in your home focused around dealing with these temptations in a godly way. Focus on the Family has great resources. Home classes are good because they are less formal and can be smaller in size.
Pray that they will not get discouraged.
The church is comprised of fallible people. Nobody is perfect. Sometimes the apathy or arguing in a church can drive a young person (or an old person) straight out the door. Pray that the teenagers in your congregation stay rooted in the Word and rooted in their faith.
Pray for them to understand the Word of God.
It all comes down to this: they need to know and understand the Word of God. Ultimately, they need to see the Word of God as relevant to their own lives. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to God’s Word.
Knowing isn’t enough. I’ve seen plenty of peers who had a dizzying knowledge of Bible facts, but they had no desire to apply it. It was solely academic to them. They left the church.
Teenagers need to understand God’s Word. It isn’t simply an interesting history lesson. This is essential for their very LIFE. They need to be grounded in it. Nothing has more sustaining power than the Word of the Lord.
This week, please pray diligently for the teenagers in your congregation. Pray, and look for opportunities to be there for them. Each of them will make the choice to serve God or to walk away. We cannot force a person to choose to follow God, but we can invest our time into helping them. Pray for them and find ways to encourage them.