Everyone makes mistakes, and when it comes to my youth work I’ve made some clangers! Hopefully by reproducing them here, it may give you a bit of a laugh and help you to avoid doing the same thing.
Mistake #2: Praying for young people with my eyes closed
Now this one is really only relevant to Christians, but is a mistake nonetheless. For those of us familiar with church prayer events, this will probably be all too familiar as I think we all have horror stories of praying for others, or being prayed for. For everyone else, corporate prayer is an important aspect of Christian life but needs to be treated sensibly and respectfully, especially when dealing with children and young people.
A number of years ago when I was just starting out as a volunteer youth worker, I had the opportunity to serve on a youth team for a large Christian event. At one point during that week, we were encouraged to get into small groups and pray for any issues effecting the young people. I gathered with three young men who nominated things to pray for before we got down to actually praying.
I held my hands out, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and prepared to pray my very best and most important prayer – after all, I needed to set a good example for the young people. I had only uttered a few words before I heard a faint ‘thud’ sound. Not wanting to interrupt my important prayer, and mildly annoyed that someone was being disruptive and making noises, I continued for a few moments. When I got to the end of that prayer, satisfied I had done my work, I opened my eyes.
The young man that I had been praying for was crumpled in a heap at my feet, with his two friends awkwardly looking at me. It seems that he had been dramatically impacted by the Holy Spirit and his response had been to fall down – quite common in more evangelical churches. With my eyes closed and absorbed in my own prayer, I had missed all of the signs that would have enabled me to catch him and gently lower him to the ground. Worse still, I had carried on regardless and left his mates to check if he was OK (he was) while others looked on in horror. Strangely, no-one else wanted prayer after that…
So what about you? Have YOU ever messed up when praying for a young person? Share with us in the comments!
Photo Credit: the_moog on Flickr