There are two things that we will remind the youth of every week. First, that everyone is wired differently and because of this fact some people will find writing out prayers as natural and fulfilling and others will find it a struggle and seemingly pointless. It is okay to feel like that practice doesn't work for you because another one, like maybe silence, will come natural to you but we should try all different practices to find which ones really work for us. Second, you will get distracted while praying. Mike Yaconelli in his book Downtime says, "It's important to remind kids that even monks who've spent years in silent prayer commonly experience periods where they can't focus, their minds distracted and wandering." Everyone gets distracted while praying so when you find yourself distracted then just refocus your mind and continue from where you remember. Don't try starting over again or else you will find yourself staring over and over and over again.
For prayer journalling they were given two options. Option 1 was to do the Examen. They could write down everything they could remember about their day and then read over it and ask themselves, "what moment was I most grateful for? why was I grateful for it? What does it tell me about my relationship with God?" and then read over it again and ask themselves "What moment was I least grateful for? Why was I not grateful for it?" They can then write down their answers in their journal.
Option 2 was to use the Lord's Prayer as a model and write out a prayer. The model looked like this:
May your name be kept holy (Thank God for the things he has done)
May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Ask God to reveal his will to you and ask for his will to be done in the people around you's lives)
Give us today the food we need (Bring your requests to God)
And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us (confess and ask for forgiveness)
And don’t let us yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one (Ask God to help you with your battle with sin)
For yours is the power, honor, and glory (praise God for who he is)
The students were all given journals to write in and I took them at the end of the night and put them in a safe place. At the end of every Community Group I will hand them back to them and they can write their reflections on their experiences of the different prayer practices. At the end of the year we are going to spend time reading through the journals and reflecting on how God has spoken to us and how he has moved in our lives.
Something you can do with your students this week is take an evening together and spend time doing either of those two journalling prayer options and then sharing together your experiences of doing it or what God had said to you during your time. Next week we are going to do the practice of praying through Scripture using a technique called Lectio Divina.