A Series on Personal Prayer & Relationship with God
This series on prayer, Youth Walking with God ©2009, is intended for presentation to middle- and/or highschool youth as part of a pre-confirmation religious education program or post-confirmation continuing faith formation. The series consists of six sessions that can be offered as a weekend retreat or as part of a seasonal or classroom program. Each session draws the youth into a different perspective on relating to God in a personal and intimate way. The series integrates Contemporary Christian music selected to match each topic and integrates a variety of group and independent activities that support the topic of the session.
Relationship with God
A prayer model
Each session outlined below is approximately 60 minutes including the activity time. Sessions can be condensed to 30 minutes by removing activities. Session content includes a suggested opening prayer, a relevant contemporary Christian hit song, reflection for the week, and a suggested prayer activity between sessions.
Session 1: Relationship with God
This goal of this session is to bring God to the awareness of the listeners. This awareness begins with God's love for us and his attitude towards us. The presentation transitions to how we might respond to him using prayer, touching on ways we pray today and how we might improve on prayer to build a one-on-one relationship with God. Maintaining an interactive relationship with God helps us open ourselves to his love and his will for our lives. Encouragement to spend time in prayer every day is supported by what God can do for us when we reach out to him and how our efforts can help us filter the messages of this world.
The session includes a skit where a person praying the Our Father unexpectedly hears a response and enters into an unwitting conversation with God. While it's not a complex piece involving no props (other than perhaps 2 microphones), this skit can be more impactful if it is prepared and practiced before presentation by either leaders or students. After the skit the leader once leads the students in prayer following the model of the Our Father: Adoration, Repentence, Meditation, Intercession.
Session 2: Freedom to Praise
This session focuses on the first few lines of the Lord's Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. The leader explains ways in which we can honor God, and how we already do so during the Liturgy and at other times. The leader includes a personal story of a time when God inspired awe in his life (best if this is a personal story). The difficulty in expressing our awe of God is that we are truly not accustomed to it. We live in a box of expectation and business that prevents our souls from expressing what we know to be true. Yet in regards to other things, movie or music stars, thrill rides and such, we find it much easier to let out our excitement. This box that we are in that prevents us from praising God is Satan's doing, and is related to "original sin." We need to fight our way out of this box until we can explode with the same excitement for God that we do for worldly things. The leader introduces a 40 day journey of prayer activity that will hopefully encourage the listeners in establishing the habit of daily prayer. In this session, the students identify words of praise and adoration, using psalms for examples.
Session 3: Recognizing Sin
This session focuses on the second part of the Lord's Prayer: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. The leader challenges the listeners to consider how their daily actions might stand in the way of God's kingdom. The goal of our journey is to be with God for all eternity. The leader calls the listeners to considers how actions bring them closer to God or farther away, and how their actions affect others and their relationship with God. The effects of sin are broken relationships. God's mercy does not offer a free ticket, rather offers restoration of who we are when we turn to him. Activities include reviewing the ten commandments and the seven cardinal sins, and identifying sins in our daily experiences. Some attention is given to the messages we get from our peers, from the media and from society at large. But that is not the end of the story. God gives us many tools to fight the battle of sin, the Sacraments and the Virtues that give us strength to live holy lives.
Session 4: The Word of God
This session focuses on the part of the Lord's Prayer where we ask for things: Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us. This session focuses on how God feeds us both physically and spiritually. Through our parents he provides our basic needs; the scriptures and sacraments give us spiritual nourishment; God's mercy gives us healing and strength to "go and sin no more." But we have to do our part to receive those gifts. The session includes a prayerful method, Lectio Divina (divine reading) to consider scripture to help us "tune in" to God's message to us through interior revelation. Time is given to allow the group to practices lectio divina in small groups.
Session 5: Praying for the World
This session focuses on the last part of the Lord's Prayer: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. We are often tempted to think mostly of ourselves, rather than of others. This last phrase of the Our Father refers to us and evil. The Prayers of the Faithful during the Liturgy are the primary place where we might turn our focus to this need to pray for others, and perhaps in our homes if we pray with our families we ask God to help those we love. This is Intercession, praying for others. While we might run to God when we have a problem we need to have solved and even pray for the poor in a general sense, we might not be so quick to pray for the kids in school that are having trouble, or that are causing trouble, or for the man down the street who is perhaps not so friendly. All of this is a part of our life of faith, our responsibility. The communion of saints stands at the ready to help us with these prayers.
Session 6: Making it Real
Now that the four parts of prayer have each been examined independently, we go back to the beginning looking at prayer time as a whole. Though every session involves practicing each concept, this session focuses on prayer as a whole. The leader guides the group in practicing the presence of Christ. We talk about the effects and expectations of prayer, and how to leverage our faith and prayer in all of our life moments.
Please make requests to firstname.lastname@example.org if this series is of interest to you.
Maureen Shannahan, YGC
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Rocky Mount, VA
Lisa Nuesslein, DRE
St. Paul Catholic Church