Every last Sunday of the month at my church we do an all-church prayer gathering. So this means that we bring all of our students who would normally go to Sunday school with us. I haven’t been much of a fan of these prayer meetings in the past, but today something changed. I think part of it has been my own spiritual immaturity, but I also think that there have been other factors that have discouraged me as well like: students goofing off, some of the long prayers from people that seem to go nowhere, and maybe my own attention span.
But yesterday was different. Yesterday I sat with a group of students and two other youth leaders. We prayed for the unity of our church, to become a friendlier youth group, and that God would put serving others on our hearts even more…and those are just the topics that the students came up with! Not to mention that God worked on my heart and in my mind to help me focus on the words of students and not to be so distracted. Our church is trying to focus on becoming more dependent for God in prayer and pray fervently for the ministry God has put in each of our lives with the families, neighbors, and co-workers to grow. Sometimes I can’t help but thinking that a lot of kids just want prayer for their homework to get found, their sick dog, or (my personal favorite) they will have fun playing video games with their friends after church. I guess that opportunities to pray with other adults and not just youth is helpful because it adds a seriousness that youth group or youth Sunday school can’t always bring.
To end this article I think that it would also be important to remind you that many prayer movements have been started by younger people such as The Haystack Prayer Meeting of 1806. Samuel J. Mills, James Richards, Francis L. Robbins, Harvey Loomis, and Bryam Green went to Williams College. They met together to discuss missions and were forced to hide under a haystack during a thunderstorm while they prayed (See article: The Haystack Prayer Meeting and the American Missions Movement). Their prayers sparked revival and movement towards more missions involvement. Mills went onto found the American Bible Society.
A more recent prayer movement started by youth in 1990 is See You At The Pole (syatp.com). It is now considered to be the global day of student prayer on the fourth Wednesday every September. On this day students all around the country gather around the flagpole outside of their school to pray together for God to help them reach their school. This is a completely student-led, student-organized activity.
Needless to say, hearing and seeing what I saw yesterday made me very encouraged about the spiritual formation of students that I am being able to connect with. Also, reminding myself of the work that God has done through people and events such as The Haystack Prayer Meeting and See You At The Pole makes me hopeful that God has and will continue to use prayer as a vital means for releasing Christians out into the world and into situations where reliance on God for supernatural means and activity can be a prophetic witness to non-Christians.