Keeping Prayer First

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For any youth pastor, whether you have been in the trenches for 30 years or just starting out, it is important to have an active prayer life. Prayer is crucial to the success of your servant ministry at your church. It acknowledges that you are dependent upon God to work through you to minister to the youth.

DO NOT make prayer the exercise that gets put on the bottom of your list – keep it first and foremost. Stephen Covey states in his book 7 Habit of Highly Effective People that we need to “Keep First Things First”. Prayer! Keep it first on any list, agenda, and gathering. Humbly come before God seeking His guidance.

Think you don’t need it? Think it’s not important? If so, then you need to reexamine your ministry. Jesus even took time to pray, to be in solitude with his Father! How much more should we? Do YOU need it ? Without a doubt!

Here are some forms of prayer that may be helpful to you. Starting immediately, begin an active prayer life for you and your church family.

10 Minutes of Prayer

Start each day, with your office door closed in complete solitude with God. Yes, just you and God in communion with each other. Mark it in your calendar, iPhone, or Blackberry. Spend time praying for the following:

  • Specific volunteer leaders
  • Specific youth
  • Fellow staff members
  • The council of your church
  • Your family and yourself

Make this a daily habit. Keep a prayer journal recording what you prayed for and keep record of how God has answered your prayer. Remember, prayer is two-way communication so don’t spend the entire 10 minutes talking to God. Make sure you give God time to talk to you in His sweet gentle whisper.

Lectio Divina

Lectio divina is Latin for "divine reading," "spiritual reading," or "holy reading" and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to provide special spiritual insights. The principles of lectio divina were expressed around the year A.D. 220 and practiced by Catholic monks, especially the monastic rules of Sts. Pachomius, Augustine, Basil, and Benedict. Click here for a guide to practicing lectio divina.

Pray Through the Psalms

Psalms is the prayer book of the Bible. In it we find expression of the whole range of human emotion and experience. In our daily worship we often turn to the Psalms for songs of praise, prayers of petition, and cries of lament. What better way to highlight the significance of the Psalms than to spend a whole evening praying through them? And how better to demonstrate the many modes of praying the Psalms—through reading and singing of course, but also through painting and poetry and dancing and more? The Back To God Ministries International, the TODAY, has focused the entire month of January 2010 on Praying through the Psalms.

The Labyrinth: Walking Your Spiritual Journey

A labyrinth is symbolic of the journey to the center of one’s self. Labyrinths are found in many cultures and traditions, and dates back as far as 3500 BC. The early labyrinths were designed and built on the grounds of monasteries and on the floors of great cathedrals in France. This would be a great exercise for you to do with your leadership team, your council, your youth group and even members of your congregation. For more information on Labyrinth.

The Breath Prayer

Breath Prayer is a very short prayer, usually only one sentence long. This form of prayer comes from the Hebrew word ruach, which is translated “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit.” Breath prayers are a form of intercessory prayer that can be used not only in our daily routine and prayer life, but also during times of anxiety, fear, distress, frustration, during surgery, and times of illness. Breath prayers assist us to ‘pray without ceasing.’ This form of prayer can be most meaningful when used in praying for another person, for prayer chains and to build community. For more information on Breath Prayer.

Prayer of Examen

The Prayer of Examen is a daily spiritual exercise developed by St. Ignatius Loyola. This practice seeks to grow followers of Jesus in their capacity to discern God’s will, find God in all things, and enhance their understanding of God’s good Creation. The prayer may take between ten and twenty minutes. The majority of that time will be spent reviewing your day. Try not to dwell too long on thoughts. Instead, allow yourself to become aware and move on. For more information on Prayer of Examen.

Combined Prayer

Spend some concentrated time in prayer with your senior pastors. Ask him/her when it would fit in their schedule to spend 10 minutes in prayer. See if you can choose the same time and place each week.

Prayer Corners

Pick a spot in your bulletin to mention two or three names from your youth asking your church family to spend one week in prayer for the names mentioned. This is not only good for the congregation but also amazing for the youth when it’s their week for prayer.

Now that you have taken the time to read through these few forms of meditative prayer, I am sure one resonated with you. Take a few moments to read through each one again asking the Lord to reveal to you which one you should begin with.

Take the time to focus on prayer as you begin your ministry! God’s blessings to you.

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