For two years we’ve been spending one Wednesday night a month in prayer spaces.

These are places that we have imagined where teenagers would be able to connect with God in prayer. We purposefully set up different types of spaces for different types of learners. We go out of our way to have plenty of options for everyone to experience a moment for himself or herself. We spend a lot of time thinking of music that won’t disturb the space but add to it’s impact. Songs with a cadence too fast or too slow set a tone. We want the tone to be where God is leading. We care about giving them time for God to speak to them uniquely.

We also want them to know that prayer can take many forms and that it’s ok to be honest with God and with each other. We have gifted art teachers helping us created the space. We have themes rising from our context and from youth themselves.

It’s been a night that many of our students have grown to look forward to. A break from games. A pause from small groups. It becomes sacred for some. An introduction for others. A moment that is very much needed for our leaders.

It’s been a great way to grow. And an even better way to see and feel what’s really going on in the lives of our students.

All that sounds great, right?

And it is.

But last month it was a mess.

Not because we didn’t do any of the things mentioned above.

But because we are growing. There are 25% more students in the prayer space that is meant to be self guided. I walked into the space last month and it was chaos. We couldn’t get the boys to chill out. What worked before (asking them to spend the next 20 minutes alone) wasn’t working this time. We paused the prayer time. No one was listening. I think the frappachinos were kicking in.

So, I did the only think I could think of doing.

I stopped the whole thing.

I asked our students to pause what they were doing, writing, drawing, creating, saying and to come into the auditorium space away from the walls. I was so frustrated that I was praying God help this to work as I was devising a plan in the moment.

“Ok, this is what we’re going to do. For the next 3 minutes and 44 seconds—or the duration of the next song—we are going to be still. Spread out. You shouldn’t be near anyone else. And breath. No words. No movement. Nothing. Just this song.”

I hit the play button and the next song on the playlist started.

It was the sound of All Son’s and Daughter’s…and that is what they are.


I could just sit
I could just sit and wait
For all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am
And hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again

I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am
And never let You
Change me from the inside
I could be safe, oh
I could be safe here in Your arms
And never leave home
Never let these walls down

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
Where You lead me
(Where You lead me Lord)

I will be Yours oh
I will be Yours for all my life
I will be Yours oh
I will be Yours for all my life
I will be Yours oh
I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy, oh
I will be Yours Lord
And I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy Light the path before me

At the end of the song. I invited them to move into prayer in the same attitude that they moved into solitude.

It’s what they needed in the chaos. They needed a transition. They needed a guide. They haven’t learned or have forgotten how to be still.

So, we must teach them. In little doses how to do that.

I think this applies to anything we do in youth ministry. Slowing down long enough to give them space to breath, settle into the lesson, and receive . When we do this we are teaching them a way of life.

I love those moments when we get to see students open up to Jesus because we’ve given them a place to do so.

How do you help students find prayer in the chaos?

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