Working with a prayer center, the topic of prayer and worship comes up often in a variety of settings and circumstances. I am a massive believer in the power of young people seeking God and singing His praises. It’s my job to help increase the level of prayer across our community.
From time to time, I’ll meet someone in ministry who deliberately leaves out corporate prayer and worship because they believe their students “aren’t ready” to sing songs to The Savior or are afraid newcomers might be “turned off” by extended prayer. There’s an attitude that passionate prayer and worship are extremist expressions of our faith. One might get the impression that worship and prayer were embarrassing things that should be done in private to be followed by a good washing of the hands. It’s no wonder that 80 percent of young people walk away from the faith when they graduate high school. They are, as Manning puts it “young people who have been denied access to their own spiritual depths.”
Last weekend I had the particular honor of speaking at a retreat for Senior High students in our region. I teamed up with my Furnace Midwest worship team and we decided to hold nothing back. We sang praises with passion and prayed with tenacity. It was powerful! What was the response? The students loved it! They dove in and didn’t look back. After dismissing the group (twice) they kept praying for another 45 minutes! One of the youth pastors involved told me that it was the first time he ever saw his kids worship!
The point is this: young people are hungry for an encounter with the living God. They long to connect with God on a heart level that can’t be accomplished through a Bible study alone (and I love the Bible study!) We must provide the next generation with opportunities to worship and pray if more than 4 percent of them are going to make it as adults. As the old saying goes, “He who prays stays, and he who fasts lasts.“