Developing a Culture of Prayer in YTH Ministry


Maybe the greatest tool to growth and maturity in youth ministry is the most under-looked. We have tried everything from sermon series, websites, social media, events, and merch. The hype train has left the station in almost every youth ministry setting. But far too often what we are left with is a crowd and not disciples.

I believe the greatest unused tool in youth ministry is free. It takes no fundraising. It takes very little organization. And yet it can be used in every setting. Small, medium, large, urban, suburban, and rural settings alike. It doesn’t need a million dollar youth center or an event date. It doesn’t require a Prezi or a PowerPoint or a video walk-up. The greatest unused tool in youth ministry is prayer.

A Prayer Strategy Is Not Complicated

Strategy. Time. Culture.

Prayer is the most ideal strategy to bring youth ministry growth and maturity. It is not complicated or expensive. It simply requires strategy and time. Take a look at your youth ministry. The philosophy, type, kind, or style of youth ministry flows out of your priorities as a leader. And so, to create a desired youth ministry culture begins with the youth leader.

A prayer culture in youth ministry will not just happen. Most leaders or students do not wake up and desire to pray. Praying is not normally the first human response to the day. But here is one of the great truths about prayer. When it is taught it is caught. And where there is intention and design and commitment, prayer becomes a tool unlike anything else to bring growth and maturity in youth ministry.

The best way to create culture is to create a strategy. When we effectively create a strategy, in time, it will effectively create a culture.

Here are some steps to help every youth leader to create a personal prayer strategy and discipline that will lead to a corporate prayer strategy and discipline. It is critical as a youth leader that the kind of culture we want to produce in the youth ministry is actually a culture that we are bought into. Whether that is an outreach philosophy or a discipleship philosophy. If we don’t believe in it the chances of creating a culture are very low.

After reading through this list of 20 ways to develop prayer in youth ministry, would you respond with a few of your own? Let’s go.

  1. We pray to know and not to get - a knowledge of God is the point of prayer above everything else

  2. Involve another person - when we bring in support or pray with others we create prayer accountability

  3. Prayer can be done anywhere - the best time and place to start prayer is right now (Will you breathe a prayer before you read number four?)

  4. Set a time and place - if we don’t have a set time/place, prayer won’t happen consistently

  5. Prayer is listening - that should take the pressure off performance

  6. Praying the scriptures - praying the Bible is a great assist to prayer when we are not sure what to pray

  7. Pray the classics - the example of these men and women is inspirational (Hyde, Brother Lawrence, A’Kempis, TenBoom, Wesley, Edwards, Zinzendorf, Brainerd, Green, Wilkerson)

  8. Pray in the Spirit - maybe the highest form of prayer is praying according to the supernatural Spirit

  9. Use worship and prayer together - these are almost inseparable because when we do one it leads to the other

  10. Incorporate elongated prayer into the youth service - when prayer is at the center of the youth service it will be easier for it to be at the center of our lives

  11. Teach prayer - teach yourself, your leaders, and the students how to pray because when prayer is TAUGHT it will be CAUGHT

  12. Do not let prayer become a filler or bumper - prayer must have a place of priority in the youth service/setting whether that is pre-service, service, or another time of the week

  13. Create a social media prayer day - redeem social media use through strategic posting of prayers and content

  14. Form prayer circles – we form small groups all the time, so form small prayer groups that feed off each other in 24/7 accountability

  15. Celebrate wins - promoting a prayer list and the answers to prayer requests will fuel faith and increase praying

  16. Encourage parachurch involvement – when students attend FCA or other parachurch meetings they learn prayer in these settings from their peers

  17. Neutral sight prayers - these would be prayers outside of the church such as prayer walks, campus praying, north/south/east/west praying, and drive-by prayers

  18. 24/7 - set up a prayer clock in the youth ministry by assigning students times to pray

  19. Prayer retreat – do an annual or quarterly 24 hours of prayer away from everything with no media or food

  20. Don’t quit – persistence produces prayer because the only people who don’t pray are people who don’t pray

Teach Us

Strategy. Time. Culture.

That is a great equation for developing organizational DNA. And it begins with the youth leader.

Remember, the only thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray. They didn’t ask him to teach them how to do miracles. They didn’t ask him to teach them how to tell parables. They didn’t ask him to teach them how to worship. The only thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray.

I believe the reason why they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray is because it was the one thing that He did that impacted them the most.

Jeff Grenell