This week we continue our Youth Ministries blog series on Healthy Plate Discipleship. We are drawn into considering a uniquely intimate part of discipleship journeys, prayer. Honestly, when we as a church think about prayer, we usually don’t look to our youth as an exemplar. Teenagers are often thought of as restless, shallow, and with too short an attention span to be able to truly engage in a discipline like prayer. But I have seen something else in them.
We have a new space in the Justin that we’re calling the Prayer Room. It’s a converted conference room tucked in a corner that we’ve redecorated with soft lanterns, prayer benches, an altar, floor pillows, candles, and a bookshelf full of Bibles, devotionals, and prayer beads. We decided we wanted to create somewhere sacred in our space — somewhere we wouldn’t play games or have snacks or do any of the other things that so often define youth ministry, but where students could simply sit and worship and pray.
A couple weeks ago, we held a short service in the Prayer Room, and asked students to take off their shoes and leave their cell phones in a box outside, for this was a sacred space.
And you know what? They did. They read liturgy together, and prayed together, and sat in silence together, and even though it was outside the comfort zone for most of our youth, it was kind of a wonderful thing.
Maybe teenagers really do want to pray — we just need to give them the space and place and time to do so. We think of teenagers as needing constant stimulation, but maybe what they truly need is a place of rest, and a place of prayer, a break from their constant movement. Now I’m not saying it’s exactly a monastery over here in the Justin, but in our chaos and noise, there is undeniably a searching for the intimacy with God that can be found in prayer. We on staff can’t provide programs that fulfill the need for prayer the way we can for service or learning, so the most we can do is set up the place and space and tools for teenagers to discover prayer for themselves and, because God is faithful, we have hope they’re starting to.
So next time you’re in the Justin, check out the Prayer Room, and add your prayers to the many that have already been lifted there, and to the many more that will be in time to come.