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Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenagers: Discover How to Pray God's Purpose for Their Lives

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Overview

It's never been tougher to be a teenager---or the parent of one. Thankfully, from your teen's first date to the next time he or she borrows the car keys, you can take your concerns to God through prayer.Drawing on God's Word, Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenager offers palpable help to pray about the stormy issues your teen faces: Relationships Depression Rejection Sexuality Eating disorders . and much more.This book also guides you in praying about everything from your teen's character and safety to the purposes and plans that God has for his or her life. Filled with historical, biblical, and contemporary illustrations, Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenager shows how to make the Bible your source for prayers that can powerfully influence your teen's life.With humor and a warm, personal style, author Jodie Berndt encourages you that, in this sometimes daunting new world, 'when you pray the Scriptures, you tap into the same power that has kept teenagers safe for generations.'

Details

  • SKU: 9780310541004
  • SKU10: 031054100X
  • Title: Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenagers: Discover How to Pray God's Purpose for Their Lives
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Release Date: May 26, 2009
  • Category: PRAYER
  • Subject: Christian Life - Family
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Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

Praying for Honesty and Integrity

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. Proverbs 12:22 TNIV

"Where were you last night?"

Molly eyed her daughter, watching carefully for any hint of deception. Her maternal instincts had kicked into overdrive, but she wanted to give Jenna a chance to tell the truth before she confronted her with what she already knew: that Jenna had left a birthday party and then shown up-much later-at a girlfriend's house where she had been invited to spend the night.

"I was at Allie's house."

"How did you get there?"

"Brian drove me there after the party."

Molly had never heard Jenna talk about anyone named "Brian," but she had heard-from another mom-that Jenna had left the birthday party with a boy.

"Who's Brian?" Molly asked.

"He's a friend of Allie. He offered to take me to her house."

"Did you kiss him?"

"Mom! What's with all the questions?"

Molly hadn't planned to ask about the kissing; the question had simply popped into her head. And now that Jenna had sidestepped the issue, she sensed that she had hit a mark.

"Did you kiss Brian?" she repeated.

"No, Mom!" Jenna scoffed. "Nothing happened!"

There it was: the slightest cloud that flickered across Jenna's face, signaling to Molly that her daughter was not telling the truth. Molly didn't really care whether or not Jenna had kissed anyone; that wasn't the issue. It was the lying about it that mattered-and lately, it seemed, Jenna had been lying about a lot of things. She lied about what she ate; she lied about whose clothing she wore. She even lied about things that didn't make any sense-like when she told a friend that she had broken a picture frame, when Molly knew that she hadn't!

Later that night, Molly turned to her prayer journal. She flipped back through the pages, her eyes scanning the prayers she had written during the past few months:

Write your word on Jenna's heart, that she would choose to hate sin and love your holiness. The words were based on Psalm 119:9-11. Gather the wheat in Jenna's life, and burn up the chaff. Luke 3:17. Before a word is on her tongue, you know it completely, Lord. Shine your light on the darkness in her life, and lead her in the way everlasting. A few verses from Psalm 139.

As Molly reread the prayer, she realized that she was exhausted. "Father," she prayed, "I am too tired to fight this battle. If Jenna is not telling the truth about kissing Brian, I am going to let it go-but I am trusting you to work in her life and to smash the spirit of lying that is trying to take up residence in her heart."

The prophet Jeremiah would have understood Molly's fatigue, as well as her heartache. Way back when he was a teenager, about six hundred years before Jesus was born, deception was evidently a way of life among God's people. "Beware of your neighbor!" the prophet warned. "Beware of your brother! They all take advantage of one another and spread their slanderous lies. They all fool and defraud each other; no one tells the truth. With practiced tongues they tell lies; they wear themselves out with all their sinning. They pile lie upon lie and utterly refuse to come to [God]."

With practiced tongues they tell lies.

There's no question that lying gets easier with practice and that our teenagers are growing up in a world where kids learn to deny guilt, shift blame, withhold information, twist the truth, break promises, and even tell straight-up, bold-faced lies-often without even blinking. We might think that this sort of blatant deception is a modern problem, but consider the fact that Cain, history's very first teenager, lied to God-to God!-after he had murdered his brother. "Where is he?" God wanted to know. "I don't know!" Cain retorted. "Am I supposed to keep track of him wherever he goes?"

When teenagers lie, it's often for the same reasons that adults do: to impress people, to advance themselves (academically, financially, or in some other way), to protect their friends, and-like Cain-to get out of trouble. While these reasons may make a lie understandable, they should never make lyingacceptable. God doesn't wink at deception. Not only did he put lying on his Top Ten list in the Old Testament, but at the end of the New Testament he lumps liars with cowards, murderers, sorcerers, and a host of other vile creatures, saying that their place will be in "the fiery lake of burning sulfur." And-just in case we need some cake with that icing-he punctuates the rest of the Bible with such words as "hate," "detest," and "abhor" to describe how he feels about dishonesty. And why wouldn't God feel this way? Where, after all, do lies come from? From Satan-the one Jesus called "the father of lies"!

Peggy is a mom who places a high priority on honesty. She taught her kids that omitting details from a story was the same thing as lying, and she prayed that if they were ever doing anything wrong, they would be caught. She also prayed that they would always tell the truth, no matter what.

Little did Peggy know what would happen when God answered those prayers . * * *

Crash!

The can of soda smashed through the window, spilling its contents onto the living room floor. Car wheels drowned out the sound of the boys' laughter as they sped away. As members of their high school's championship soccer team, they were all too familiar with late-night pranks, and this latest-a stealth attack on the home of their archrival's leading scorer-seemed, in their adolescent minds, to be a brilliant idea.

When Peggy learned that her son, Charlie, had participated in the vandalism, she took a different view. "It was a definite moment of stupidity," she said. "The boys had planned to put Oreos on this other fellow's car as a practical joke, and the prank got out of hand."

But that was just the beginning. Called into the school office the next day, the boys learned that they had been caught on videotape as they purchased their arsenal of soda and cookies. "Do you want to tell me about it?" the school official asked.

To a man, the other culprits-all considered "team leaders" by their coach and the other players-denied any wrongdoing. Charlie, though, could not keep silent. As an honor student and a well-known leader in his church youth group, he felt that he needed to confess. He had no interest in staging any sort of a cover-up, and he fully believed Jesus' words in John 8:31-32: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Charlie had made a mistake; now all he wanted was to set the record straight and make amends. "You're crazy!" one of his teammates cried, when he learned what Charlie had done. "What were you thinking?" asked another. "We need to stick together. If you hadn't confessed, they never would have been able to prove we had anything to do with what happened!"

Never before had Charlie so keenly felt the pain of rejection. But as it turned out, his teammates' ire was the least of his worries. The man whose house the boys had damaged was not about to settle matters quietly. Rather than accept payment for his broken window and soiled carpet, he decided to go to court-and in the end, Peggy and her husband wound up shelling out more than $10,000 in lawyer and court fees. Not only that, but Charlie's conviction-all but assured by his confession-went on his permanent record and, in addition to having to perform 250 hours of community ser vice and attend six months' worth of youth offender classes, the judge ruled that Charlie had to spend three days in jail!

"I cannot begin to tell you the pain I felt having to watch my son walk into that jail," Peggy said. "As the gates shut behind him, locking him in with a bunch of felons, I felt like all my dreams for him were shattered. I knew that his future would never be the same."

And indeed, Charlie's reputation was tarnished. During his college application interview, one of the interviewers pulled up his name on the Internet and discovered that he had been indicted for a felony. After a lengthy explanation, Charlie was accepted at the university-but two years later, when he tried to lease an apartment near the campus, he was turned down, based on the results of a routine criminal background check!

"I never dreamed that telling the truth could be so costly," Peggy said. "But I have discovered that, very often, our greatest growth comes from our greatest failures. Charlie has taken responsibility for his life, and he is mature beyond his years. He has compassion for others, and the grace that he shows is only that of someone who has experienced the grace of God."

"And," she continued, "I've learned some lessons, too. I have had to learn how to forgive the man whose desire for vengeance did so much damage to my family. I have learned that just because someone makes a bad decision, they are not a bad person-and they need grace and mercy, rather than condemnation and judgment. Most of all, I have learned that, despite what I sometimes think, I am not in control of my teenager's journey toward God-but God is."

Prayer Principle

Very often, our greatest growth comes from our greatest failures.

Poised for Prayer

Telling the truth can be costly, but holding on to a lie always comes with its own set of-far more dire-consequences. Scripture is full of train-wreck stories about lives gone awry as the result of a lie: Rebekah deceived her husband and-for all practical purposes-lost her favorite son. Jacob lied to his father and had to run for his life. Ananias and his wife lied to the early church about money-and dropped dead on the spot!

Stories like these can make us shudder. But if you've caught your teen in a lie, or even if lying seems to be your teen's preferred communication style, don't panic. Instead, try to discover what motivated the lie-Fear? Insecurity? A desire to "cover" for friends?-so that you will be better equipped to pray. Also, keep talking about the importance of truthfulness and integrity, looking at the issue from God's perspective. (My friend Lisa knows that her kids are heaven-bound, but she had them memorize a shortened version of Revelation 21:8-"Liars go to hell"-just to keep them on their toes.)

Remember, too, where lies originate. Satan is the father of lies, and he likes nothing better than to get us to believe his twisted words. One of the things I liked best about Peggy's story was that she refused to listen to Satan. She could be living in a prison of bitterness, but she chose to forgive the man who hurt her son. She could have seen the entire experience as a tragic mess, but she has chosen to find God's redemptive purposes instead. She could have beaten herself up over her failure to successfully manage her son's life, but she has learned to let God be in control.

What about you? What are the lies that Satan is trying to get you to believe? Has he told you that you have blown it as a parent, and that you will never get it right? Has he whispered that your teenager is a mess, and that nothing will ever change? Don't listen! Don't believe it! Counter lies like these with truths from God's Word: Philippians 1:6 says that God has begun a good work in your child, and that he promises to finish what he starts. If you could talk to Molly, the mom I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, she'd tell you that God is definitely at work in Jenna's life. Not only did Jenna confess to-and ask forgiveness for-lying about the kiss (Molly's instincts were right!), but in the past year, the shadows of deception have all but disappeared. Today, she and Jenna enjoy a relationship marked by open communication and truthfulness that goes beyond anything Molly could have ever imagined.

Satan may be the father of lies, but Jesus Christ is the Truth. Let's call out to him, trusting in his incomparably great power to change our hearts and set our families free.

Prayers You Can Use

Heavenly Father,

Cause __________ to put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his friends, his teachers, and to us, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25

Keep __________ from deceitful ways. Teach her to choose the way of truth so that she will never be put to shame. Let her run in the path of your commands, knowing that you have set her heart free. Psalm 119:29-32

Let __________'s words be truthful, so that they will stand the test of time. Give him a heart that is filled with peace and joy instead of deceit. Proverbs 12:19-20

Keep __________'s tongue from evil and her lips from speaking lies, that she may love life and enjoy good days. Psalm 34:12-13

I know, Lord, that you examine hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. Let all that __________ does be done with pure motives, and make him always want to obey you. See to it that his love for you never changes. 1 Chronicles 29:17-18 NLT

Guard __________'s life and rescue her; let her never be put to shame. May integrity and uprightness protect her, and cause her to put her hope fully in you. Psalm 25:20-21

Help __________ to stand firm, with the belt of truth buckled securely around his waist and the breastplate of righteousness guarding his heart. Ephesians 6:14

Cause __________ to be careful to lead a blameless life, having nothing to do with evil. Do not let her slander her friends or classmates in secret, and keep her from practicing deceit or speaking falsely. Keep your eyes on her and draw her near to you, so that she might stand in your presence. Psalm 101:2-7

Satan is a liar and the father of lies. Don't allow __________ to listen to Satan or carry out his desires; rather, cause him to tune his ear to hear what you say. Let him receive and believe the truth that you speak, knowing that you are his Father and that he belongs to you. John 8:42-47

Let __________ always be a truthful witness, no matter whether she is defending her faith or giving a report about something that she has seen or done. Show her how much you detest lying lips, and cause her to see the extravagant delight that you take in her when she is truthful. Proverbs 12:17- 22

Keep __________ from willful sins. May the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart be pleasing in your sight. Psalm 19:13-14

Cause __________ to hold to your teaching, to be your disciple, and to know the truth-and let your truth set her free. John 8:31-32

(Continues.)

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