Here are some tips and ideas on how to pray for teens.
1. Don’t try to be God. Instead be a praying parent.
No parenting course will teach you how to save your child’s soul. No set of rules will keep a teenager from disobeying. And when things fall apart, all the counseling in the world won’t fix the root of the problem.
Even using your God-given talents and those of other influential people in their lives, there is simply no way to make our youth into who God wants them to be without God Himself changing them from within, bringing them to faith in Christ, and sealing them with His Holy Spirit. Jesus is the answer. Always. We have been given an immense gift in that our God is listening when we pray, and He indeed works his will through our prayers.
2. Pray because today there are serious barriers for youth coming to faith in Christ and keeping that faith through adulthood.
These barriers come in the forms of popular media such as television shows, songs, movies, and websites, which tempt young people to be selfish, rebellious, immodest, and anti-religious.
But don’t be discouraged. Christ Himself says to take courage, for He has overcome the world! (John 16:33). There is an enemy of our souls. But there is also a Great and Powerful Redeemer. We must remind ourselves that God is patient and that His Spirit is at work, rescuing us from the domain of darkness, graciously saving all who call on His name, through faith in Christ. (see II Peter 3:9; Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 2:8-10).
3. Pray because youth are at a crucial life crossroads.
We must remember the particular challenges facing the younger generation. As they reach the time in their lives they will begin to form their personal identity, become affiliated with particular religious, political, and social belief systems, and develop a worldview. We as the Church need to join together in prayer that our God will be magnified in the lives of our youth. They will make mistakes. They will need teaching and guidance, truth and grace. But above all, they need what we all need – a personal encounter and an abiding relationship of faith with the One True God.
4. Don’t give up on our youth.
God can take the lowest and most unlikely person and make him a Christ-exalting witness to the world. Pray that it may be so, for the youth in your life, and for youth all over the world.
5. Pray first, seek other help second.
Don’t seek help for your child (or for anything, for that matter) from another source before going to God first and foremost. When we trust in someone else first, we idolize them, and God is not honored. The Christian’s search for help starts with prayer.
6. God will help you when you don’t know how or what to pray.
God has provided an Advocate for you in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26-27: “…the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:34: “…Christ Jesus…also intercedes for us.” Now that is good news! God knows what is on our hearts, and He helps us pray to Him.
7. Even though Christ knows what we need before we ask, prayer is vital…
Because God works through our prayers. Because prayer is a path of communication with God, and you cannot have a meaningful relationship with Someone if you do not talk to Him!
Because prayer is a source of God’s peace: Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
8. Don’t be afraid to pray specifically.
God is listening, friend. Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray specific prayers, and expect God to answer them, according to His will and great knowledge. See Matthew 7:7-11
9. Pray general blessings and virtues, too.
Don’t forget to pray general prayers, too, for physical and spiritual needs:
10. Pray that youth will choose to be obedient and Christ-like:
II Corinthians 13:7 : “Now we pray to God that you do no wrong…”
11. Pray that youth will come to know God:
Ephesians 1:18-19 – “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe…”
12. Pray that God will be glorified in them:
II Thessalonians 1:11-12 – “To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
13. Pray for their physical well being.
III John 1:2 – “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”
14. Be encouraged that you don’t have to be perfect for God to hear your prayers.
The Scripture on prayer in James 5:16 says “…The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
If you don’t consider yourself to be righteous, please embrace the righteousness of Christ. It is not your righteousness that saves you, but that which comes from God on the basis of faith in Christ (Philippians 3:9). If you have been saved by Christ, you are righteous in Him, because He took on your sin and gave you the righteousness of God (II Corinthians 5:21).
You can embrace Proverbs 15:29 – “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.” God is listening to you. And hopefully you’re listening to God, too (the Scriptures are mighty handy for this task, by the way – why search for a new message from God when He has already written you a book full of eternal Truth?).
15. Your light will shine and your teen will see it.
As you grow in faith and discipleship in Christ, His righteousness will shine through in your life. Keeping your mind on the things of God (Colossians 3:2; Philippians 4:8) is a practical way to prepare yourself for a life of prayer. I Peter 4:7 – “…be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” May God grant you faith to persevere in prayer, teach you to pray according to His will, and may He do wonderful things for His Kingdom through your prayers.
16. Pray about your teen’s personal prayer habits.
Pray for them. Evil, in all its forms – including the laziness or unbelief that may be keeping someone from praying – can only be overcome by real spiritual power. And real spiritual power comes from God. Ask Him.
17. Model prayer for your teen.
Be a model. Whether consciously or subconsciously, young people are constantly seeking models after whom to pattern their lives. If you want someone you know to pray faithfully, you must start by being a faithful prayer.
18. Don’t pray just to be seen praying –
Jesus warns against this, because it is of course not the appropriate motive for praying. But, don’t hide it either.
19. You can’t give someone something you don’t have yourself.
If I were trying to teach my son to pray faithfully, I would realize that I cannot give that which I do not have myself. Just as in a plane crash, you would put on your own oxygen mask first before helping someone else, I would, with God’s help, develop a strong, continual prayer life, trusting in God, and involving others in the process. Pray for people.
20. Pray with people.
Pray with those to whom you are modeling faithful prayer – and be sure to pray sincerely, not just as someone who is trying to set an example.
21. Have a family prayer time every day.
Lead corporate prayer at church or before sporting events.
22. Whenever applicable, share how God is answering your prayers…
… and share testimonies of God answering others’ prayers. And any chance you get, share what God has taught you through Scripture and your own experience, about prayer.
Copyright Turner Lee 2011