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A Call to Prayer

January 16, 2012 — 3 Comments

While in class at seminary last week, I was personally challenged and awakened. Dr. Richard Ross (@richardaross) did a great job of opening students’ eyes, but I believe it was God moving me and calling me to action.

I felt the urge to pray and to call parents and leaders to pray as well. I sat in class and heard testimony after testimony of how God moved when His people prayed. I realized that I had never experienced the presence of God in that way, but I so desperately wanted to. And I want parents and preteens to experience His presence as well. I have to admit that my prayer life sucks, but in that moment I felt like God was calling me to pray.

When God calls you to move, you move. So, at 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night I made a move. I typed a short letter to all leaders and parents calling them to unite in prayer on Wednesday, January 18. And at 11:36 p.m., I hit send and I waited.

When I woke up the next morning, I had 15 unread email messages. Between midnight and 6:30 am, 15 parents had committed to praying. And then the number just kept growing. I snapped these screenshots on Friday while I sat in class and watched the number of unread Mail messages grow… (check out the number next to “Mail” at the bottom of the screen and the time at the top of the screen)

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On Wednesday, January 18, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., I’m expecting well over 100 parents praying together for their families and for preteen ministry. It’s amazing to see what God has already done to turn our hearts to prayer, and I can’t wait to see what else He does!

Whether you’re a preteen parent, preteen leader, or someone who just stumbled upon this post, I want to invite you to pray with us. On Wednesday, January 18, between 11:30 am and 1:00 pm, consider taking 10-30 minutes to pray for your family and for preteen ministry.

Wherever you are, just pray. If you would like to pray with us, you can email me and I will send you a prayer guide. The prayer guide will help you to pray for specific things and will give unity to our prayers. It is our desire to see preteens love Christ and follow Him. So, on Wednesday, we will callon His name for just that.

It has been a long week being away from my wife and my daughter. It’s not that I have an unhealthy co-dependence or anything. It’s just that she is honestly my best friend, and I really enjoy being around her. Whether I’m just sitting or going, I’d rather be doing so with her.

This time away has been a little extra hard because I also miss my daughter. And for the first time in her life, I think she misses me as well.

This is where God spoke to me.

To try and combat the homesick feelings, I’ve been having a Skype conversation with my wife and daughter each day. Several times this week, my daughter has asked for me or gone to the computer and said, “Daddy?”

She misses me. She wants to talk to me. She loves me that much that even when I’ve been seemingly absent for 5 days, she still knows I’m there and wants to talk to me.  She’s only 16 months old.

Do I really miss my Father (God) and want to talk to him? If He were seemingly absent in a period of my life, would I still seek Him out and want to talk to Him? Am I even conscious that He is always there?

We laugh and joke that all the screaming and babbling my daughter does is “preaching.” But this time I think she really did deliver a message from God.

The biggest problem facing preteens and teenagers is their view of Jesus Christ. The next generation is holding onto a “Little Jesus.”

It is convenient to view Jesus as small enough to fit in your pocket. However, the problem with this way of thinking is that if Jesus is small enough to fit in your pocket and only be pulled out when needed, then He is small enough to be put right back into the pocket and forgotten.

Preteens and teenagers have a weak view of the Messiah, and guess who gave it to them? You and me. We have lived in front of these students with a weak faith and an inadequate view of Christ. This weak faith is leading them to walk away from church at an alarming rate. Now, the view that we have passed on to them has put the future of their faith and the Church in jeopardy.

For a better understanding of the faith of preteens and teenagers, I encourage you to read this article on the research from the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

So what is the solution to this problem?

The solution is a “Big Jesus.” The solution is to help the Church—students and adults—to unpack who Jesus really is. Talk about it, teach it, live it. Do everything to help them see the full glory of Christ. When we find out who Jesus really is, it changes everything.

So, who is your Jesus—big or small?

How do we teach preteens and teenagers to view Christ as who he really is?

(Want to understand more about the Supremacy of Christ, start with reading Hebrews 1)

If you’ve never shared Christmas with a 16 month old, I highly recommend it. It was a special time at our house as we got to discuss God’s gift of Jesus (or “she-suz” as our daughter says). The lights, the presents, and visits with family were all so much fun, but my favorite moment was one small present.

The present was a small 5×7 photo frame that held a blessing for our daughter. The blessing is an affirmation of worth and calling. The blessing is to help our daughter recognize her purpose in God’s story, and to request His presence in her life. It simply reads:

You are a blessing from God. He created you in a wonderful way for a wonderful purpose, and He has great plans for you.

May the Lord show you His grace and peace each day, and may you shine His light to the world in everything you do.

We wrote this blessing and placed in the frame so that it could be a part of our every day routine. Each night as we prepare for bed, we hold the frame in the lap of our daughter and read these words to her. It has become a part of the routine that she expects and reminds us to do.

When she opened the gift, she tossed it to the side in favor of some toys and crayons, and I know she doesn’t fully understand what we’re saying to her as we read the words. However, I know that the daily reading of this blessing will help her to understand her value to God and help us all to rely more on Him for her upbringing.

If you are a parent, especially of a preteen, I encourage you to find a way to bless your child. In a period where they are seeking value and purpose, a blessing can help them to focus on how to engage the purpose that God has created them to fulfill.

If you’re interested in learning more about writing a blessing or being a part of a new movement related to a child’s blessing, check out Blessing Your Child by Dr. Trent & Focus on the Family.