As Christians, the concept of prayer is introduced very early in our lives. From the time we can kneel at the foot of our beds, we are encouraged to say our prayers. We are taught the most common and powerful of the Bible’s prayers and asked to memorize and recite them on many occasions.

Prayer gives us an excellent outlet to communicating with God, and develops a connection to understanding our own spirituality. For youth, reciting the dinner time grace or writing out a prayer request can be an incredibly productive and educational activity. Beginning in childhood, we learn the importance of asking for forgiveness, of pleading for protection and pledging our gratefulness for the blessings around us. All of these are communicated by kneeling in front of our beds, around a dinner table or in the comfort of a greater congregation at our local church or ministry.

As youth ministers and parents, it is important that we understand the benefits of prayer, so we may assign tasks and plan activities that take the greatest advantage of the main positive byproducts of praying.

In summary, prayer develops young minds in the following main ways:

Creativity, Identity
Crafting a short night time prayer requires effort, creativity and self-awareness. Youth are put in a position where they have to assess their surroundings and their situation. Does Grandpa need healing? Is Dad too stressed? Does my cat or dog need a miracle? Do my friends at school need my help or some other intervention? Youth learn to be creative by expressing their emotions and learning to ask for help.

Develops Spirituality, Gives Youth an Outlet and Hope
With teen suicide rates at dangerously high levels, it is important that we do everything we can to curb this problem. In many teen suicide cases, loneliness and solitude is at the heart of the problem. Youth can feel they have absolutely nobody to talk to and no outlet whatsoever to vent their fears and frustrations. Through an active, communicative relationship with God, teenagers are able to feel there is someone who is listening to them. This gives them hope and comfort.

Writing Skills
Creative writing is an essential skill. As adults, we realize this as our days are filled with writing emails, letters and other documentation related to our work. In our correspondence as adults, we need the ability to describe our situation, ask for understanding and solicit assistance. Coincidentally, these are the same requirements that many prayer requests have. In a written prayer request to an online prayer request site or on a sheet submitted to our local church, youth and adults are forced to express their situation and plead to God for a solution.

With anything, practice makes perfect. The exercised muscle is a stronger muscle. What better way to exercise our brains than to memorize Bible passages and prayers? Reciting The Lords Prayer, Mary’s Prayer and many others are common assignments in catechism classes and youth groups around the country. Although these may seem to be annoying tasks to teens, they are very helpful in strengthening their ability to memorize and strengthen their brains.

Prayers quite often are for other people. We ask God to cure family members, help our local church, a parent’s business or our friends’/neighbors’ situations. Prayer allows youth to put their own status in perspective and develop compassion for others. While they may be praying for their distressed neighbors today, tomorrow they may be developing an actionable plan to help them. In today’s world, having a perspective on the rest of society is incredibly important.

So the next time you are holding hands at the dinner table, filling out a prayer card at church or helping your teens memorize a long prayer passage from the Bible, you can know you are helping them become healthy, well-rounded adults. God Bless.

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