Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    GIMME! : A Short Lesson on Prayer

    In keeping with our look at how to invite youth to get beyond the wave of consumerism that is about to wash over our culture in the following weeks, we offer up this short Bible study discussion on the spiritual (and sometimes not-so -spiritual) practice of prayer:


    FOCUS: To help students examine their understanding of prayer as a spiritual practice.

    OPENING UP: Invite the group to pray with you and say:

    Dear God, we come before you and give thanks for everything we have. We ask that you continue to bless us. Give us the things that we need and the things that we want. Help us get the best MP3 players, the best video game systems, the coolest clothes, the hottest sports car. Help us make good grades on all our tests and homework, and help us to win and be number one at whatever we try. Most especially, bless our country so that we continue to be more powerful and more wealthy than any other country in the world. Thanks God. Amen.”

    Ask: If you heard this prayer in a worship service, how do you think you would react/feel? How is this prayer different/same as your idea of prayer?

    REFLECTION: Go around the circle and invite each person to finish the phrase “Prayer is...” with one word. Do this three times, encouraging them to use a different word each time. Encourage them to consider action words, descriptive words, symbols, emotions, etc. Keep a written list of their responses.

    Alternative: Pass out a handout with a variety of images on it related to prayer. The images might include folded hands, a person singing, someone walking in the woods, a lit candle, worshippers holding hands in a circle. Invite youth to share which pictures say something to them about how they understand prayer.


    DIGGING INTO THE TEXT: Read Matthew 6: 5-17 together. Ask: How could the text help shape our prayer practice? How might we pray differently than we do now in church/in private?

    Read
    Luke 18: 9-14 (The Pharisee & the Tax Collector). Ask: How do you think the Pharisee would define prayer? How do you think the tax collector would define prayer?

    Read Luke 5:16. Ask: What do you think about Jesus' practice of praying alone? What do you imagine he prayed about? What does your own prayer practice look like or what would you like it to look like?


    BRINGING TOGETHER SCRIPTURE & OUR STORY: Pose "The Big Question": Do you think God answers prayer? If so, how? What does a prayer sound like if it's not about asking for stuff? What part, if any, do we play in helping God to answer prayers (or own or those of others)?

    Encourage the group to reflect on the different ideas and images of prayer that you have discussed. Invite them to create (perhaps in silence, as an act of prayer) a group mural that illustrates, without words, different ways of understanding prayer.

    TAKING ACTION: Invite youth to take up a prayer practice in the coming weeks that involves "emptying" oneself of those me-centered desires and distractions that get in the way of a more meaningful prayer practice. Encourage students, like Jesus, to find a "secluded place" to pray, whether that be in their bedroom or outside in the woods or locked in the bathroom! Invite youth to use a prayer box or bowl as a way to begin their time of person prayer. This vessel could be used in two ways. One: place into the receptacle things or symbols of things that might distract you in your time of prayer or draw you into yourself instead of into God. These might include a cell phone, watch, TV remote, homework, money, etc. Two: place into the receptacle slips of paper on which you have written the names of people or places for which you want to focus your prayer time.

    Perhaps commit as a group to pray each day for one week at a certain time and for a certain number of minutes. Then, report back to one another about your experiences.

    16 comments:

    Amber Rose said...

    I like this lesson. I'm going to use it with my junior high group tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for sharing your idea.

    Amber

    Amber Rose said...

    I like your lesson. I'm going to use it with my juinior high group tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for sharing your idea!

    Amber

    Brian said...

    I hope it goes well, Amber. Glad to know it's something you can use.

    Stephen Knuth said...

    I used this lesson when speaking to my high school youth group tonight. It had a few laughs in the opening prayer and was very quick and to the point!! Thank You for sharing this lesson with us. :)

    Brian said...

    Stephen. Glad it worked well for you!

    Hannah said...

    LIke this, I'm a teen and I lead an early morning student-let Bible study...perfect lesson for prayer.

    Lee Ann said...

    I plan to try this lesson with my youth group..in hopes that this will help reach these kids and teach them the importance of prayer and one specific child whom claims she doesnt believe their is a God..she comes because there's nothing to do in our small town...

    Joel Egger said...

    Great! Thanks! I'm gonna use it with my middle schoolers tomorrow!

    wind6 said...

    This is exactly what I needed for my Tween group! Thank you!!

    CheeseMcGee said...

    What a great lesson. I used this last night with my 4th & 5th graders and it led to some great discussion! Thanks!

    CheeseMcGee said...

    What a great lesson. I used this last night with my 4th & 5th graders and it led to some great discussion! Thanks!

    Callum McLeod said...

    This is really an great lesson. I will be using it for my youth group bible study tonight. (I'm a youth pastor in South Africa)

    Brian Kirk said...

    Glad to hear folks are getting some use out of this lesson. You've reminded me that it might be time to use this again with a new batch of my own youth!

    Corrine said...

    What a great way to start my senior high small group tonight. Thank you!

    Tina Daniels said...

    I will be using this as an idea starter, thank you so much! Ive been working with them on prayer and was starting to run out of ideas, but this had great points and now my thinking cap is running over!

    Alexandra Hepper said...

    Thanks! I also used this for a group of 7 junior highers! It was just the resource I needed to make a point and get a great conversation started!