Here’s a helping hand for exploring prayer with your young people as suggested in this month’s Youthwork Magazine from Jenni Osborn. You may want to adapt the session depending on the experience
You’ll need: Bibles – preferably a few different translations: The Message, the Contemporary English Version and the NIV would be my recommendations for young people. If you don’t have access to different translations then go to www.biblegateway.com and print out the text in different versions – or send the link to your young people for them to look up on their phones.
You might also want to have ‘journals’ to give out – these need not be a big investment but will encourage your group to make notes and perhaps even get into the habit of using the journal as a prayer tool.
If you have a favourite way to study the Bible then do use that. If not here is a framework which has helped me. It’s simple to remember and use meaning that the young people can apply this same framework to any of their Bible readings.
The passage we’ll be looking at is Matthew 6: 9-13. If you’d like to do more then you could look at the whole section on prayer which includes verses 5 -14.
I suggest you break the passage down and study one verse at a time, although of course if you want to do the whole lot in one session then go for it.
This plan is the first session, which is aimed at older teenagers but can be adapted for a younger group.
Begin by distributing Bibles/passages/journals. Ask the group to look up the passage in Matthew and say: ‘We’re going to look at prayer in the next few sessions by looking into how Jesus actually told us to pray. Before we begin, let’s just pray and ask that God will speak to us through these verses' then pray with them.
If your group are readers then everyone could read the whole passage (verses 9-13) from the version they have in front of them. If not, then you could ask one or two of them to read a little bit each. Ask them to write the reference down in their journals (if they’ve got them) along with the SOAP acronym, leaving a few lines in between each letter. You could also write it out on a flipchart paper if that will work better with your group. Then say ‘In today’s session we’re going to look at the first verse, let’s write that out next to ‘Scripture’ in your journals/on the flipchart.’
Next ask the group to get into pairs and read the verse again, this time they’re looking for something that they hadn’t noticed before or something that really jumps out at them, this can be anything big or small, it might come from hearing the different versions read out loud at the beginning – were there any stark differences in the translations? Give them a few minutes to discuss and then bring them back to discuss in the whole group. Ask them ‘What did you Observe?’ Get them to write some notes in their journals next to ‘Observations’ or write it up on the flipchart. If this is tricky then perhaps ask them to think about how they might put this verse into their own words.
With the whole group look at how this verse Applies to our own prayers. Ask the group: What changes might we make to the way we pray based on what this verse talks about?
Finally encourage all the young people to Pray, perhaps they could use these opening lines from the Lord’s Prayer to begin their prayers. Or, if they have put this verse into their own words, use these words. They might be most comfortable writing or drawing something in their journal – certainly if you’ve provided them with journals it would be good to encourage them to use them straight away, or praying with one other person rather than in the whole group.
Some other ways to use this study:
If you’re doing the whole prayer in one session then I suggest you give different verses to different pairs to discuss and ask them to put the verse into their own words. You can them write all of these onto a flipchart and use with the group for the rest of the term.
If your group is creative with filming then perhaps they could put together their version of the Just Pray advert released by the Church of England last year. Look up that version here.