I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me. ~ C.S. Lewis
In the early days of my college journey, I began asking questions concerning the significance of prayer. I grew up going to church, and my family placed an important emphasis upon praying together. I heard my parents pray on a regular basis. I had Sunday School teachers who prayed aloud before me. I prayed consistently myself. But as a young twenty-something, I wanted to understand why I prayed? And I wondered if prayer really changed anything? I knew there had to be more to prayer than a wishful mentality. That’s when I came across the C.S. Lewis quote above. This quote changed the way I looked at prayer. Prayer changes me, not God!
Many young adults today are asking the same questions. So how are we helping collegiates and young adults understand prayer? Here are three areas to think about as you journey with Millennials on the practice of prayer.
1. Don’t neglect the opportunity to pray with individuals in your group.
We often tell others that we will pray for them, but we rarely take the opportunity to pray with them. Some of the most powerful moments I’ve had in my walk with Christ have been in moments of prayer with other believers as they have voiced heartfelt prayers for the needs of the church, the community, our world, and for my own life.
When young adults ask you to pray with them, don’t miss the opportunity to pray with them. Allow them to see that prayer is an important component to your walk with Jesus. Believe me, they’ll value your willingness to step into their life at that very moment.
2. Invite others to go on prayer walks with you.
Very few people understand what it means to prayer walk. As your group prepares for an outreach into your community or senses the need to reach a certain segment of your city, set aside time for young adults to prayer walk in a targeted area. As you walk and pray, the Lord will reveal specific ways you and your group could minister to areas of your community that may need to hear the message of Christ. Allow the prayer walk to be a time of conversation between you and God. Voice your desire for Him to work in the lives of people who are not connected to Christ and the church.
The more frequently you take prayer walks, the more natural it becomes to pray “as you go.” It’s amazing to see what the Lord reveals to us as we slow down and allow Him to speak to our hearts.
3. Be vulnerable in the areas you are trusting to the Lord through prayer.
Often, group leaders are not quick to share with others some of their own personal areas of trusting God through prayer. If we expect collegiates and young adults to open up to us, we must be vulnerable ourselves, allowing them to see that we wrestle with some of life’s questions right along with them. It is through vulnerability that we become very authentic. Obviously, not every detail needs to be shared, but the willingness to be vulnerable goes a long way in helping others see that prayer is important to us. The value of praying with each other becomes much more important.
As a young adult, I soon discovered that prayer was much more than a ritual. Rather, it allowed me to see the life that God wants me to experience in Him. The conversation with God along the journey changed how I saw Him and how I saw myself in Him. In reality – prayer changed me!
Mark Whitt is a collegiate minister with Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Connect with Mark via Twitter.