Horizon Youth: What We’re Talking About: Real Talk (September 13-20)
We’re Teaching This
Talking to some people is easy. You can hang out with your friends for hours and never run out of anything to say. You feel like you can talk to them about anything. But you probably also know people who just seem to make you a little nervous when you have to talk to them. Maybe it’s a teacher, coach or your boss at work, but you always feel you say something wrong or they are never impressed. No matter who it is, you choose your words carefully when you talk to that person because you don’t want to mess things up. And if we’re honest, prayer can feel a lot like that. The whole idea
of it makes us a little nervous. We wonder if we sound silly. We try to use just the right words but we aren’t sure we’re doing it right. And often, we are tempted to back away from prayer because it just feels awkward. But what if talking to God was never meant to be that way? What if talking to God was supposed to feel more like chatting with a good Friend than making an impressive speech? During this series, we’re going to take a look at what Jesus said prayer is and isn’t. And as we do, you may just find yourself wanting to lay down the formalities, relax and have some real talk.
Think About This
Parenting is not for wimps—especially when it comes to parenting teenagers. There’s a lot of pressure for parents
to get it right all the time. And, everyone has areas where they wish they handled things better. So, what is that area for you? Is it that you tend to lose your temper with your teenager? (Who doesn’t?) Or maybe you just wish you could just let things go a little more easily. Maybe you keep your cool, but obsessive worrying is an issue. You’re constantly thinking of all the things that could go wrong. Or maybe between all of the sports, the homework, the relational drama, and the financial commitments of raising a teenager you find yourself always stressed out.
Or maybe it’s all of those.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix to alleviate all of the pressures of parenting, but there is one thing that science tells us could be really helpful. And when you read what it is, you may be surprised.
Recent studies indicate there are a number of psychological benefits to prayer. And, prayer isn’t a practice limited to clergy and the super spiritual. In fact, a 2013 report from the Pew Research Center found that over half of Americans pray every day and 21% of those who aren’t affiliated with any religious group still pray.
So, how could prayer help with parenting pressure? In his post on PsychologyToday.com, Dr. Clay Routledge, an associate professor of Psychology at North Dakota State University, outlines five ways that prayer has scientifically supported benefits that may help parents in areas where they need it the most. He says…
1. Prayer improves self control. Research participants who said a prayer prior to a mentally exhausting task were better able to exercise self-control following that task… Findings such as these suggest that prayer has an energizing effect.
2. Prayer makes you nicer. Researchers found that having people pray for those in need reduced the amount of aggression they expressed following an anger-inducing experience. In other words, prayer helps you not lose your cool.
3. Prayer makes you more forgiving. Researchers found that having people pray for a romantic partner or friend made them more willing to forgive those individuals.
4. Prayer increases trust. Recent studies found that having people pray together with a close friend increased feelings of unity and trust. This finding is interesting because it suggests that praying with others can be an experience that brings people closer together.
5. Prayer offsets the negative health effects of stress. Researchers found that people who prayed for others were less vulnerable to the negative physical health effects associated with financial stress. Also, it was the focus on others that seemed to be contributing to the stress-buffering effects of prayer. Praying for material gain did not counter the effects of stress. So thinking about the welfare of others may be a crucial component of receiving personal benefits from prayer.
(For the complete article, see https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/more-mortal/201406/5-scientifically-supported- benefits-prayer).
Maybe you already pray regularly for your student and your family. Maybe the whole idea of prayer seems a little awkward to you (and that’s okay!) No matter what your starting place, everyone can take one step forward when it comes to prayer.
This week, try taking your prayers for your student to the next level by choosing one of the options below.
Pray for your student. You think about them all the time. This week, try turning those thoughts into prayers. Even if you aren’t sure about God or church or religious things, just give it a try. It can’t hurt.
Tell them you prayed for them. Maybe you pray for your student all the time, but they have no idea. This week, encourage your student by praying for them and then shooting them a text message letting them know you did.
3. Pray out loud for them. The idea of praying out loud can be a little intimidating for anyone. But the benefits often outweigh our nerves. If you already pray for your student regularly, ask them how you can pray for them this week and try doing so out loud. A great place to pray for them is in the car on the way to school (just don’t close your eyes!) Knowing that you’re praying for them and hearing you pray can mean a lot to your student as he or she faces the challenges of the day—even if they never tell you!
No matter what your “next step” is, set a reminder in your phone to take that step this week. You may be surprised by the way prayer benefits your student and yourself.
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