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Teen Prayers

Prayer Spotlight: Junior Achievement

How many children in your community know how to balance a checkbook? How many adults do?

Financial illiteracy adds challenges to already difficult situations. If someone is struggling with poverty, not only does that person need employment opportunities and training. He or she also needs life skills to sustain that employment and provide for his or her family.

Many community organizations put volutneers to work, sharing and teaching life skills. Poverty is not the only stumbling block to learning life skills. In my own community, we have children living practically homeless, often without adult supervision; grandparents, aunts, and uncles trying to raise more children than they can care for; parents in jail; extreme levels of addiction in the population; and few corporate jobs or work-training programs.

Fortunately, our community has responded to these challenges with many organizations fueled by volunteers. As prayer warriors, it is important that we get to know the volunteer programs in our community, and not only join one that's appropriate for us, but also pray for one or two others. Each of us can ask the Lord: "Where should I volunteer to help my community? And please show me one or two organizations You would have me pray for." It's important not to overextend, but to hear strategically from the Lord. One person can't be everywhere or pray for everyone. But the Lord can orchestrate many willing hearts, so that everything is covered, and we are praying in unity.

To gain some experience in praying for a volunteer organization, let's look at one that made a difference to me when I was a teenager: Junior Achievement. When I was in high school, I learned life skills, entrepreneurship, and how to serve as a corporate officer through my JA company. I received a sense of self-worth by the fact that several corporate employees gave up one night a week to mentor us. And the life skills and financial literacy I was taught by my parents were reaffirmed and put to work in our JA company.

Recently, I was thrilled to learn from a teacher-friend that JA still exists, and has revamped for the young population of today. They provide weekly entrepreneurial and financial literacy training at learning centers, as well as "JA days" in the classroom. What a great opportunity for children K-12, as well as for the adults who volunteer.

I would encourage you to take a look at the JA website and see what they are offering. How might we pray strategically together for JA, or for other organizations like them?

Here are a few suggested prayer points:

  • Pray that the children will discover their God-given identities and a sense of self-worth.
  • Pray for hope to spread through the communities this organization is serving.
  • Pray that the children will discover God has provided this opportunity for them (James 1:17).
  • Pray that the volunteers will not overextend or grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).
  • Pray for the Fruits of the Spirit to be exhibited by volunteers (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Pray that as the children are helped, whole families and neighborhoods will be impacted.
  • Pray for creative ideas for teaching life and work skills to each child.
  • Pray that the organization has sufficient volunteers, funds, and resources, and invests these wisely into the lives of the children and communities.
  • Pray for protection for the children and volunteers, and that the organization effectively screens out individuals who intend to harm the children.
  • Pray that the body of Christ will learn, through organizations like this, how to make a difference in the lives of the people in the community where God has planted them.

Let's each take a few minutes and pray through these points together for the JA nearest you. Your prayers right at this moment will make a difference for JA and those children today. They will feel your prayers, they will experience breakthroughs by God's power, and they will have an amazing day. How awesome is that! As we pray together, there is strength in our combined prayers.

What are other ways you would pray for Junior Achievement and organizations like it? Which organizations are doing similar work in your community? Let us know, so we can pray for them together.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

 

Briar Patch Prayer

Our team gathered at the start of a weekend retreat. Two of our team members, a husband and wife, were missing. Shortly after we began our prayer time, the wife arrived, frantic. Their teenage son had run away from home.

We began to pray for him, that the Lord would bring him home. I felt in my spirit to pray that the Lord would capture him somehow. That the Lord would hold him safely, wherever he was, until help arrived. I prayed the Lord would lead those searching for the boy in the right direction.

An hour later, we received a call from the boy’s father. The boy had been found, and he was okay. A sheriff’s deputy had found him in the woods, tangled up in a briar patch.

God had answered the prayer He prompted, to capture the boy. 

Ever since that time, when someone asks me for prayer for a loved one who is running, I ask them, “Would it be okay with you if I pray the briar patch prayer?” And I tell them the story. Everyone I have asked has responded, “Yes.”

One of the hardest times to pray the briar patch prayer is for a loved one out on the streets using drugs. I have volunteered with a men’s addiction regeneration center, and I know mothers and wives often ask for prayer for their loved one who is using. When it’s time to pray, “Lord, catch him,” that is tough for them. 

I have a friend, a counselor, who often prays with a mom for her son, “Lord, arrest him.” 

This shocks the mom, and often she asks, “Why would you pray that?” 

My friend responds, “It will save his life. Or stop him from killing someone else.”

The briar patch prayer might seem natural to pray for a child who has run away and is lost. It is harder for a mom to pray, “Lord, arrest my son.” But if getting arrested will save his life?

Another variation on the briar patch prayer is to pray for God to overload the structure in a person’s life. When a loved one is struggling but refusing help from the Lord, God honors that person’s free will. We, as those who pray for our loved ones, must also honor our loved one's free will. But we can pray for God to overload the self-made structure on which this person has become dependent. 

When a person is struggling and not seeking help from God, often she creates her own “structure” for how to cope and survive. We know this is fleeting, and her own defenses will not withstand the assault of the enemy and the world. She needs God as her only structure. But until she sees that, God will overload her structure until she is ready to come to the end of herself. We can pray He does this, and this prayer will not be violating our loved one’s free will.

When the structure gets too heavy, the person will have to realize her way isn’t working. We need to pray that in that moment, she will see God, and ask for His help.

Have you ever been in a situation where the Lord has pressed on your heart to pray that a loved one gets caught? Or that the structure gets overloaded? 

What did you pray? What was the result?

The prayer garage

I guess it was about 9 months ago, I saw this crazy vision of having a "prayer garage" at our church. What is a prayer garage? Well, when we moved into our new church building (actually a very old building), it has a little brick "house" with a garage. I got this vision of the garage becoming a prayer/worship space open to the community.

I started talking to folks at the church … many of us were getting the same vision, which to me meant that it had to be from God. When the youth started getting the same vision, that was confirmation enough for me. I began to ask about moving this forward.

We had to wait until various renovation projects were completed, because the garage was used as a storage space. Now the garage is in the final stages of being cleaned out! A little sheetrock is all we need, and we're going to give the youth some paint and let them create the vision the Lord has given them.

I'm overwhelmed at how well this has all come together, and how many people in the church have caught the vision and offered to help, including donations of couches, rugs, lamps that were offered the minute we put out the word. Wood carvings made specially for this space. Help with cleaning and heavy lifting. It takes a whole church to get behind an undertaking like this. It's been an awesome experience.

I can't wait to see what God will do with this space. It's tiny, it's old, it's beat up, it's "weird" … but the King of all creation came into this world, born in a little cave, probably not unlike the space of this garage. It's the kind of unlikely place where God loves to work. I'm humbled to watch it take shape.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

God’s words to us as children

I pray for kids a lot. Many of them have had a tough time in their young lives. I also pray for "big kids" who had a tough childhood. (I did too.)

As I was praying this morning, I felt that the Lord was showing me how much He is there for each child, how present He is in their lives, whether or not they realize it.

We read in Scripture how Jesus picked up each child that came to him, and held them close and blessed them. I believe He spoke to them His love, His truth about who they are to Him, His plans for their lives.

I felt that the Lord was saying He does this for every child – that He is always present, always holding them close, always blessing them, always speaking to them – how much He loves them, who they are to Him, all the truth they will ever need to hear.

I think things get in the way of children hearing those constant words of His. But the words are still there, to be claimed.

That's my prayer – for the little and "big" kids I'm praying for (and for me too) – that the Lord will help each one of us to receive every word of love and life and encouragement and truth, every blessing that He's ever spoken to us. That we will become alive to His words for us. That He will restore to us every word of His that we've missed or "lost." That He'll help every part of us to receive all that He has ever spoken to us, since the day He first breathed life into our spirits.

In Jesus' name.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.