Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"OMG!"

One of the biggest challenges I've had in several years of youth ministry is getting teens to pray, especially out loud. Sometimes it's because they're shy or don't want to appear overly "spiritual" in front of their friends and peers. However, most of the time it's because they honestly don't know how. I am currently a leader in our church's youth group for teens in grades 9 to 12. We do our Bible teaching time together as a group but at the end of our meeting we separate so we can have some time to discuss things privately, things that girls & boys might not necessarily want to talk about around each other. Obviously I can't speak for the boys but I can tell you that the girls & I do have some pretty meaningful conversations, as well as prayer requests. Prayer still seems to be a bit of a challenge for them, which is why I try to explain it like this: prayer is simply speaking to God. That's it. No fancy shmancy, flowery, poetic wording necessary... just speaking the way you usually do, honestly, from your heart. In our little group, we used the term "OMG" as an example to how we can use everyday modern language to speak to God. "OMG...Oh My GOD"...something that has often been considered to be one of the most overused catch phrases of all time. But just like almost anything else, we can use it to bring glory to our Lord. I prefer to use it this way, oh my God, my personal Lord & Saviour, my best friend & confidant, the lover of my soul & keeper of my deepest secrets. OMG...my own little semi-secret code between my God and me...and my girls in my group, if they choose to use it. Some of my girls have been surprised to learn that I allow any kind of prayer they want to give. There is nothing too small for us to bring to the throne of God. In our group we pray about everything from Math tests to crushes and everything in between and beyond. Some of our requests are answered the way we hope. Sometimes we are answered in ways that we don't understand... at least, not yet. The main thing I am trying to share with my girls is that to have a relationship with God we need to keep communicating with Him. If a little acronym like "OMG" works to help bring the kids I minister to a little closer to Christ, then I think it's worth possibly making some legalistic folks that are more worried about semantics than reaching kids at their own level a little uncomfortable. Is He your God? If not, do you want Him to be? If He is, how is your relationship with Him? Is He a distant deity or the Lord of your life?

4 comments:

  1. I think that the "OMG" slang is a good way to get them involved...as well as change terminology that generally is used to take the Lord's name in vain into a positive light. As for getting them to pray out loud, this could continue to be tricky. I do not have ministry experience, but in my teaching experience with teens...I would say that it depends how truly comfortable they are. They may seem comfortable in the group, but most teens (especially girls) are great at putting on a front so they seem "cool" to their friends/peers. Have you tried taking each girl aside individually? Maybe she would be comfortable praying aloud with you, but feels weird in front of her friends. Or maybe having them pray in pairs with each other? (I will note here that I personally stink at praying out loud.) Hmm..other thoughts....the woman that I was doing a Bible study with had me call her to pray aloud to make it more comfortable for me...that seemed to help. It sounds like you are doing a good job with them so far...just keep at it. :) Hope this advice helps.

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    1. Thanks, Dawn. Unfortunately, because of the little time allotted during Wednesday nights, there's really not an opportunity for individual prayer, although I do connect with some of them throughout the week (Facebook, phone calls, etc.)and we often pray together then. They seem like they're starting to feel a little more comfortable with it. Just takes practice, I guess! :)

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  2. OMG! I love this - as a mother of three children who are just finishing up their teen years, I know how important it can be to use terminology that they can relate to. Isn't it ironic that even as adults prayer out loud can be intimidating....we think that we need to be grandious. or that we will do it wrong. God bless you for showing these young people that prayer is simply a conversation between to them and God!

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  3. Thank you for sharing this! What a creative way to use the Devil's twist on our heavenly Father's name!

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