Sunday, May 31, 2009

Teaching Students to Pray

Prayer is one of those spiritual disciplines that most of us struggle with. This is especially true for those of us who seem to always be "plugged in". Our lives are filled with noise from our cell phones, computers, TVs, radios and so on. Over the past 15 years I have noticed a significant decline in the number of students who are capable of praying, much less praying in front of other people. So how can we help students learn to pray? I will address this on two levels, what am I doing with my own kids, and how we can help students learn to pray.

Every night we read scripture as a family. Currently we are reading through the book of Judges. it is a little grousome at times, but it gives us opportunity to talk about God in some interesting ways. When we are done we simply ask each other who each person is going to pray for. My ten year old often prays for her friends and our family. My three year old boy also prays. Lately he has been praying for lisey, one of our volunteer staff who is raising money to go over to Germany to work with youth. His prayers often go like this, "Dear Jesus, I pray for Lisey that she gets money." My daughter is a little more detailed in her prayers, but they are learning to pray and to do it outloud in front of other people.

So how do we help High School students learn to pray? Here are a couple small steps:

  • Model it, but don't make your prayers all glorious and majestic. Keep the prayers simple and achievable.
  • Ask students who are comfortable to pray publically to do so.
  • Ask students (probably in small groups) who they would like to pray for and have them pray simple prayers just like my kids do.
  • Take opportunity to teach through the Lord's Prayer
  • Do a concert of prayer where the students are able to pray in an interactive way that is less intimidating.

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