The Resistance: Focused Prayer Gatherings

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students praying

“How many ceiling tiles are in the room?” “Is that light turned slightly to the left?” “Are my shoes tied?” “Did my phone just vibrate?” “Is someone looking at me?”

Have you ever wondered what goes through the mind of a student when they attempt to pray? I have. What becomes the proverbial “red light” that stops them in their tracks – causing a heart that a few seconds earlier was turned to God, to turn elsewhere? While I cannot answer these questions, I can tell you that in most churches, students aren’t greatly interested in personal prayer, much less giving up a night that could be spent on social media or in a theater, to join with their peers in a corporate prayer setting. This poses a significant issue within the church today: Prayer isn’t popular. What can we do to foster prayer in the lives of our young people? What can make prayer more palatable to students, who have a long to-do list at twelve and a short attention span to go with it? For a moment, I’d like to share something with you that God revealed to our group last summer. Let me introduce you to The Resistance.

Scripture beckons the church over and over again: “Be united.” [1 Peter 3:8] “Seek my face.” [2 Chronicles 7:14] “Submit.” “Resist.” [James 4:7] The Resistance [TR] is a focused prayer gathering for students where teens come together to pray over various things. It was birthed from the need to engage teens with God through prayer in a relevant and simplistic manner. As student’s schedules become filled more and more with activity, prayer becomes less likely to be utilized in their lives. Also, if they do make time to pray, sessions are shorter and more inconsistent in nature. God longs for genuine connection through conversation with His children. TR fosters such a connection.

The Resistance offers a structured format for students to engage God that seamlessly directs them in what to pray for, how to pray, when to pray and why to pray by utilizing visual media. Visual media [presentations or videos set to music] was chosen to lessen the need for constant human interruption. Presentations/Videos are created for each gathering that have various focal points on topics such as Family, Peers, The Church, Local and National Government, etc. Topics are wide ranging but are encouraged to be specific in nature. For example, if “The Church” is used as a topic, it may be broken down into three subtopics i.e. Specific Ministries, Families, Finances or the Miraculous.  This allows students to focus on certain aspects of each main topic in order to keep the group in one mind. Virtually any topic can be valid but it is suggested that whatever is chosen be broken down somewhat, in order to keep the gathering as smooth flowing and focused as possible.

The Resistance gatherings are usually formatted like this:

The night begins with 1-2 songs where students are instructed to simply worship God. They are not to ask for anything, only to glorify Him. [Matthew 6:9] Following this time of worship, the topics portion begins. Each topic is shown with its heading, followed by whatever subtopics that have been chosen. With each subtopic short conversational instruction is given, followed by pertinent scripture. A slide might look like this: 

Families

During these next two songs, let’s join together in prayer for families.

Firstly, pray for spousal and parental distress.

Ask God to mend broken relationships and heal wounded hearts.

Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to the brokenhearted

and saves the crushed in spirit.

This layout continues throughout each topic until the final segment of the gathering.

Because the main goal of The Resistance is to personally connect each student and God as much as possible, students are encouraged to refrain from grouping together to pray for each other until the end of the gathering. If someone would like prayer over a specific need, they are instructed to write their need on a prayer card to be reserved until the final group portion of the evening. If it is urgent, they are instructed to seek out the leadership that is in attendance.

During the final part of each gathering the group assembles to pray for the needs of the students who are present. Before the event, at a centralized location, blank prayer cards, pens, and Bibles are positioned for the group to take as needed. In a brief instructional time before each gathering, students are instructed to list their personal needs on these cards throughout the night as they feel directed. Students are encouraged to read their Bibles at any point in the evening when they find themselves feeling “mentally fatigued”. This way, even when they aren’t engaged in conversation with God through prayer, they are through Scripture.

At the end of the evening, during the final song[s], each student gathers at a previously selected location. Prayer cards are then returned to the group leader and placed face down, so as to keep each request private. Cards are then prayed over by the entire group. This ensures that each person’s requests aren’t overlooked.

Following group prayer over personal needs, the night ends with encouragement from the group leader and a reminder of the next scheduled TR gathering.

If The Resistance were to begin at 6:00pm, the format might look like this:

–        5:45 – Material [Bibles, Pens & Prayer Cards] Placement

–        6:00 – Brief Introduction/Explanation on format, tools [prayer cards, Bibles etc.] and group prayer location.

–        6:05 – The Resistance Begins

–        7:15 – Final Song[s]/Group Prayer Begins

–        7:25 – Closing Exhortation

The Resistance is not the ultimate answer to the problem that many groups face- introducing corporate prayer to their students. There may not be a specific answer, but it is a model that has been successful at our local church, and one that I believe, if implemented, can have success with your students as well. I hope this has, at the very least, been an inspiration for you to offer a corporate prayer session to your group. There is power in focused prayer, as is evidenced throughout Scripture. The Resistance promotes focus, teaches patience, encourages fervency, and ultimately allows students to experience God together.  With those ingredients, it’s worth a shot.

Justin Bates

Student Pastor

The Healing Place Church

If you would like further instruction or explanation, please contact Justin Bates at:

–        Office Phone: 205-655-5000

–        Email: justin@thehealingplacechurch.com

–        Facebook: facebook.com/averyhappyfellow

–        Twitter: @averyhappyfello

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