Last night I had an incredible time of prayer with my 15-year-old son, Alex and 19-year-old son, Chris. I felt that time of crying out to God together was an answer to prayers from years ago. When I heard Chris praying for revival to break out among the youth and young adults, I realized that I was experiencing a dream come true of advancing the kingdom with my sons.
During that time of intense prayer, we were on equal ground before God. They looked to me for direction in that time of prayer but once I set the pace, they ran. My church has a weekly prayer meeting that attracts hundreds of people every week. From those prayer meetings, I've learned from Pastor Kathy Gray who leads the meeting, how to bring prayer home.
First, I fervently believe that prayer starts at home with me as the parent. The parent must demonstrate that prayer is a priority in the home by letting their kids see them in prayer and pray with them. From those prayer meetings, here's how I learned how to pray with my teenagers.
#1 Talk about how God answers prayer. I've shared stories of God answering prayers for my husband, Jerome and myself. They have heard the exciting adventures of God stepping into our struggle when we cry out to Him. These stories arouse their appetite for prayer.
#2 Teach your child how to pray. There is no shortcut and this topic could be a book in itself. But there is no substitute for mom or dad taking the time out of a busy day to teach their child to pray by praying. You can't delegate this job to your children's pastor or youth pastor. You are their first teacher for prayer. We've prayed together as a family and have tried to show them that this is the first response to an emergency or an opportunity to worship God for answered prayer.
#3 Give direction to prayer. I've learned from Pastor Kathy to dig into the Word of God which is the best book of prayer. Last night I had a list of prayer points and scriptures for all of us to cover. My approach is to set the pace and then let them push with their own personality and passion.
#4 End with a time of praise and worship. Singing songs of praise and worship and lifting His name together brings His presence in a beautiful corporate setting for the whole family to experience. Teenagers are naturally emotional and passionate. I believe God has wired them to experience His presence in a deeper manner.
When we finished prayer, I shared how I sensed God wanted to encounter them. I then asked what did they think God was speaking to them. "He wants us to draw closer to Him," my 19-year-old son Chris shared. "He wants me," my 15-year-old son added. For two teenage boys to experience His presence and know that He wants to encounter them is priceless.
It may feel awkward, but I believe that nothing can replace dad and mom praying with their teenager. Prayer doesn't have to be complicated or super-exciting but a priority. Start with one need, one scripture and let your teenager flow with the Word of God. There is nothing like coming before God as a family and seeing Him move among your teenagers.
Leilani Haywood is editor of SpiritLed Woman and a frequent contributor to Charisma. She is a Kansas City, Mo.-based award-winning writer and columnist. She has been published in the Kansas City Star, Metro Voice and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @leilanihaywood.