Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dear God: Using Prayer Cards in Youth Ministry

God is here. God hears.

If those two statements are true, then the act and posture of prayer makes all the sense in the world.

We're been going through a series on prayer in our high school ministry called "Dear God," talking about the why, what, and how of prayer. I took Brian Berry's advice to invite high school students to write prayer cards, asking them to write down spiritual needs on a piece of paper.

It's amazing how a simple act of writing on a scrap of paper can be deeply transformative. Students have written raw and authentic prayer requests, writing down situations and names and fears and hopes. Sometimes there is simply a single word scrawled on the paper: healing; addiction; stress; fear.

As I have read and prayed over each piece of paper, it strikes me that I am on holy ground, that I am holding something sacred because the words on the paper reflect the hearts of the young people who wrote on them. These little prayer cards strike a chord with students because they are realizing a profound truth: the church is the only community where their spiritual needs can truly be met. There are better places for entertainment and music and food and all that. They might have more fun hanging out with their friends outside of a church community.

Yet when it comes to presenting their spiritual needs before God, the church is where it's at. We will pray for you. And we mean it.

Youth ministry friends: find a way to incorporate prayer cards as a regular part of your ministry. Students will share spiritual needs that they might never share out loud. Your own prayer life for students will become more intentional and consistent. It takes almost nothing--a scrap of paper and a pencil--yet can transform everything.

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