Although 'People of Prayer' is part of my series on themed youth evenings, there are no icebreakers or games. 'People of Prayer' is a creative evening for your group to pray for each other, their friends, your church, and for the body of Christ in your city, nation and throughout the world.
This guided evening of prayer contains a number of simple activities and visual prompts to teach and engage your young people in prayer. There are four sections to the evening - Focus on God, Focus on myself, Focus on friends and family, Focus on the wider world.
I have used this outline with many groups and it should take between 60-90 minutes. However, use your own judgment to pace the evening, as every group is different. You may also like to have the Bible passages viewable as a PowerPoint presentation and add a relevant video clip for the final section on the persecuted church. The links will take you to useful resources. Make sure you have a suitable and comfortable room for this evening of prayer.
Begin the evening with a few short introductory comments and Bible verses on prayer before leading into an opening time of worship.
FOCUS ON GOD
The opening time of worship should feature songs praising God for who he is and what he's done for us.
Read Psalm 100 out loud and together.
After reading the Psalm ask the young people to pray one sentence prayers of thanks to Jesus. Encourage them to express their gratitude to God for his love, grace and mercy.
Close the prayer activity with a couple of short passages of scripture i.e. Psalm 95:1-7, Colossians 3:12-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
FOCUS ON YOU
Ask the group to sit or kneel on the floor. Read 1 John 1:8-9.
'If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.' 1 John 1:8-9.
Explain that the next few minutes will be a time of silent prayer, reflection and confession. In the quietness ask the young people to consider the things they have done this week. In the silence say sorry to God for the things they know they have done wrong or have damaged their relationships with others.
Some young people may wish to quietly read a short passage of scripture as part of their reflection. Suggested passages are Psalm 19:12-14, Psalm 51:1-2, Psalm 66:18-20, Psalm 139:23-24. At the end of the confession read 1 John 1: 8-9 again and emphasize the promise of forgiveness.
Give everyone a piece of paper and a pen. Ask them to quietly think back over the past week and mark a tick on the paper for each time they can remember doing something they knew to be wrong. When they have finished, ask them to fold their paper and collect them in a pile on a fire resistant dish.
Explain that when Jesus died he broke the powerful force of sin and made it possible for people to be free and receive God's forgiveness. If we believe in Jesus then God will not condemn us for our sins and we need no longer be slaves to sin because God's power working in us can give us the strength to overcome temptation. Then slowly and quietly, set light to the pile of papers. As they burn, lead a prayer, thanking Jesus for dying on the cross and the freedom from sin's slavery that it brings. Read 1 John 1:8-9 again and emphasise the promise of forgiveness.
Encourage the young people to get into huddles of 4 to pray for the fullness of Christ and fruits of the Spirit in each other’s lives.
Each member of the group selects a fruit of the Spirit and without further comment asks the others to pray that more of this Christ-like character would grow and be present in their life.
FOCUS ON FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Begin this section with a song looking outward to the community, nation and the world i.e. Shine Jesus Shine. Read Mathew 18:19-20 and move the focus outwards to witness, evangelism and the world.
The People Cross.
Each person writes the name of a friend, work colleague or family member they wish to pray for on a piece of paper. The group then places the papers on the floor in the shape of a large cross. The young people stand in a circle around the cross and pray for the person they named. They pray out loud (softly) and together. Encourage them to pray,
- That each friend will become more open to God
- That each friend will become a follower of Jesus
- That God would use you to reach your friends.
FOCUS ON THE WORLD
Place a large map of your nation at the centre of the 'people cross.' Ask the group to get into huddles of 3 and encourage them to pray for those in authority,
- Pray for our government and leaders. Pray for wisdom as they govern.
- Pray for all in authority. Pray that peace and justice might rule in their lives.
Ask the young people to quietly change huddles and get together with two new people. Encourage them to pray for the church,
- Pray for your church to have a greater impact and witness in your community.
- Pray for the church in your nation to be bold in 'speaking the truth in love' and pray for revival.
Candle in the Dark.
A time of prayer for the suffering church and for persecuted Christians around the world. Ask the group to sit cross-legged in a circle on the floor. Illustrate with a contemporary personal story of what it means to suffer and be persecuted for your Christian faith.
Resources you may wish to visit include,Open Doors International, Open Doors Youth and Student Ministry (UK), International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Darken the room and place a single lighted candle in the centre of the circle. In the silence encourage the young people to pray for the suffering church. For isolated and persecuted believers, for God's grace and strength to fill their lives, for justice, and for the person or family highlighted in your illustration.
Close the evening with a final time of worship.
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