Teaching students how to pray should be one of the pillars of every student pastor’s ministry. Knowing that prayer is one of the primary components to relationship with God and sanctification in Him, we must prioritize the teaching and continual practice of this discipline. First and foremost, never forget that the disciples we seek to make in Jesus are ever watching the ones who endeavor to lead them. So if you are not setting the example of someone who is in constant prayer, your students will be less likely to take hold of their own prayer life and understand it for the treasure that it is.
I have three images permanently etched into my memory of great men who taught me how to pray:
- The first of these was my Father who woke up every morning before anyone else in the house to read his Bible and pray. I will never forget seeing him with his eyes closed and hands laid open before the Lord fervently seeking God’s will for his family.
- The second is the man whom the Lord used in my life to help me realize my call to ministry. This man was the Worship Pastor in my home church and it was clear to all that this was a man of prayer. Even while leading a ministry of thousands each week, Jeff never hesitated to stop right where he was and join hands with someone in prayer. This was a model to me not only personally, but also professionally that God used to draw me back into fellowship with Him on multiple occasions.
- Lastly, a man that I met on a mission trip to the UK. This man believed in a HUGE God who was capable of ALL things! Until meeting him, I would say that my prayers were meek, manageable prayers, that left ample room for God not to work. This man taught me to be bold in prayer expecting great and miraculous things from the only one who could deliver such a result!
Ultimately, if we are going to teach our students to pray, we must first model this practice for our students, and as they see us living a life of prayer, instructions like those found in Matthew 6:5-15 will find fertile soil in which to grow and blossom!
Read the following excerpt from A.W. Pink’s work, A Guide To Fervent Prayer…
“The fact that so many prayers are found in the New Testament Epistles calls attention to an important aspect of ministerial duty. The preacher’s obligations are not fully discharged when he leaves the pulpit, for he needs to water the seed which he has sown. For the sake of young preachers, allow me to enlarge a little upon this point. It has already been seen that the apostles devoted themselves “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4), and thereby they have left an excellent example to be observed by all who follow them in the sacred vocation. Observe the apostolic order; yet do not merely observe it, but heed and practice it. The most laboriously and carefully-prepared sermon is likely to fall unctionless upon the hearers unless it has been born out of travail of soul before God. Unless the sermon be the product of earnest prayer we must not expect it to awaken the spirit of prayer in those who hear it. As has been pointed out, Paul mingled supplications with his instructions. It is our privilege and duty to retire to the secret place after we leave the pulpit, there begging God to write His Word on the hearts of those who have listened to us, to prevent the enemy from snatching away the seed, and to so bless our efforts that they may bear fruit to His eternal praise.
Luther was wont to say, “There are three things that go to the making of a successful preacher: supplication, meditation, and tribulation.” I know not what elaboration the great Reformer made. But I suppose he meant this: that prayer is necessary to bring the preacher into a suitable frame to handle Divine things and to endue him with Divine power; that meditation on the Word is essential in order to supply him with material for his message; and that tribulation is required as ballast for his vessel, for the minister of the Gospel needs trials to keep him humble, just as the Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh that he might not be unduly exalted by the abundance of the revelations granted to him. Prayer is the appointed means for receiving spiritual communications for the instruction of our people. We must be much with God before we can be fitted to go forth and speak in His name. Paul, in concluding his Epistle to the Colossians, informs them of the faithful intercessions of Epaphras, one of their ministers, who was away from home visiting Paul. “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you . . .” (Col. 4:12, 13a). Could such a commendation of you be made to your congregation?”
This post was written by John Paul Basham, Student Ministry Specialist