Here’s another clumsy prayer moment with great value to push yourself through the clumsiness. Pray with your teen. Pray over your teen with your teen right there next to you. Ask your teen to say a sentence prayer after you. There are lots of clumsy moments to share but the overall outcome will last a lifetime. And I’m not exaggerating with that statement.
Teens don’t know how to pray. They don’t know the “how-to’s” and they don’t know that they have the access to ask a supernatural God to intervene in their lives. They don’t know they can ask for big things and expect God to do big things in their lives. Yes, they may have heard that this is possible…for others. For other truly Godly people. But not for them. They don’t know how to say the words to get God to move. They don’t believe God would move things in the heavenlies because lowly them attempted a poorly worded prayer. So why bother? Faith is something for older people anyway.
Lies are all about limiting people’s potential, right? Teens believe lots of lies about prayer. This is a way to change that. I do need your help. Even though you also feel inadequate about it.
Tweens are so impressionable! In their concrete operations stage of development they are all in or all out. The world is black-and-white. God is either-or. Teach them that they can pray now while they believe wholly that God is all in on them. Your tween will also help you feel less inadequate. And remember this the most: they are so impressionable. This is an impression that can last a lifetime. They will remember times when they believed God was for them and they prayed and God answered.
Praying with your child does these things:
- Your clumsy words teach that prayer is simply a conversation with God. One that shows respect for his unending love and power, but that is spoken in our own words. Maybe you need to remind yourself of this simple truth of what prayer is so you can stop feeling intimidated to pray outloud.
- Model honest prayer. Pray your heart. Pray your questions. You will not damage your child’s faith by your vulnerability. Your teen has enough doubts in his/her own head to damage their own growing faith. Your vulnerability may actually help them stop their negative self-talk.
- Believe something is going to happen when you pray. This is your own trust in God coming in to play to ask, seek, and knock. This may be another vulnerable moment for you. Please take it, even with your trepidations.
- Over time maybe you can make prayer the go-to reaction for whatever life throws at you throughout the day. This takes mindfulness from you too. To stop in the midst of the chaos and take a moment to pray together for that chaos (even if it is as you are driving and you can only get out a three-word sentence prayer) will be a life lesson for your child.
- Let your child see you pray at other times. This means your prayer closet is out for a season of your life. Unless you hang a sign on the refrigerator stating “You can find me in my prayer closet for the next 15 minutes.” This is simply being intentional and show-offy for the greater good. Note: Also do this with your Bible reading. Move your Bible reading out of your bedroom to the center of the house so your teen sees you reading the Bible.
- Teaching your child to pray out loud now will hopefully not pass on your issues you have with praying out loud.
- Use the sentence prayer idea to make this practice easier. Remember that practice will make this easier. Offer up one of these sentence starters as a way for your child to pray aloud. Write these out on slips of paper and put them in a jar. Go Pinterest on that jar if you want. Keep it by their bedside and have them draw one out every night.
- “Lord, I thank you for …”
- “Lord, forgive me for …”
- “Lord, help my friend …”
- “Lord, help me be more …”
- “Lord, help me to let go of …”
- “Lord, give me the courage to …”
- “Lord, one of the fears I need help with is …”
- Adapt the end-of-the-day question of “Highs and Lows.” Ask your child what his/her “highs” were from the day, and then ask again about the “lows” from the day. Share your highs and lows as well. You may do this already. Now just turn those highs and lows into simple sentence prayers—together.
Voila! You are praying with your child. For a lifetime of memories to lead them to their own life of faith.