Do Your Teenagers Know How to Pray?
By Kara Powell and Brad Griffi Posted on January 09 2013
What was your prayer life like as a teenager?
In a recent gathering of youth workers, we asked everyone (ourselves included) to take thirty minutes in solitude to consider the following about what prayer was like as a teenager:
- What helped you come alive to God?
- What disciplines sustained your faith?
- What do you remember about the content, frequency, and rhythms of your prayers?
What we heard from those leaders was a lot like what we heard when we explored the same kinds of questions with teenagers: Prayer and other spiritual disciplines tend to be random, chaotic, and circumstantial.
Is that all we can hope for when it comes to the spiritual life of adolescents?
Research shows that faith practices are important to long-term faith,  or what we call Sticky Faith. Yet often teenagers aren’t sure how to nurture their own spiritual growth. Our research at the Fuller Youth Institute indicates that only about half of graduating youth group seniors pray once a day or read the Bible once a week.
As a follow up to the Sticky Faith research, we took a year to explore the disciplines that best connect young people with God and nurture lasting faith. Out of that exploration we’ve created a new spiritual practices resource as an entry point for youth workers and parents to invite young people to create new, or deeper, faith rhythms.
Rhythms that will help them create Sticky Faith every day.
We’ve created a whole series we’ll begin releasing this week, including an 8-week curriculum you can adapt to your context in whatever ways make the most sense. The hope is to give you a plan you can utilize to help students reimagine and re-engage spiritual practices as a way to notice God more every day, long beyond the series itself.
Each week of the curriculum we’ll provide:
- A leader guide for a youth group or small group meeting around the weekly theme
- A daily guide students and adults can use on their own
- Ideas families can try together
Because Lent is a set 40-day period in the church calendar leading up to Easter and is practiced across various denominations, we invite you to harness Lent (beginning February 13) as an opportunity to engage students in new practices.
The best part? It’s all free.
We’re excited about helping you rethink the spiritual formation of young people and truly help them develop an every day faith. We hope you’ll join us!
 Christian Smith’s research through the National Study of Youth and Religion found that a key factor in predicting stronger young adult faith is teenagers who have “established devotional lives—that is, praying, reading Scripture—during the teenage years. Those who do so as teenagers are much more likely than those who don't to continue doing so into emerging adulthood.” See “Lost in Transition”, interview with Christian Smith by Katelyn Beaty, Oct 09, 2009. Also see Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults (Oxford University Press, 2009).