Pray the Word of Jesus for Your Teen--John 17: "Lord, they are yours."

Praying the Words of Jesus for Your Teen

For one short season of our parenting journey, my husband and I felt as if we were hanging onto the reins of a runaway horse. Daily battles over curfews and negotiations around boundary lines had taken the place of warm conversation and laughter around the table, and we mourned the loss as we searched for words to pray over family life in what felt like a war zone.

We were desperately trying to hold the line against hormonally-fueled pressure to relax biblical standards of holiness in the home, while also negotiating the pressure of imminent college and career decisions, and it drove us to our knees. However, at a time when prayer should have been a crucial lifeline, I found that I did not trust my own words in prayer for my teen children.

Could I even know what to ask God for when I was feeling unsure about my own motives?
How does a mother ask God for help in dealing with the daily arguments without lapsing into imprecatory psalms?  

Prayer in the Pressure Cooker

Because I am of a practical frame of mind, my prayers for the people I love are mostly bound by everyday concerns. Even so, I am learning to embrace the prayers that God gives us in His Word — prayers of much more lasting import than I’m usually inclined to pray.

Jesus’s prayer for his disciples in John 17 comes from the pressure cooker of His final earthly hours. In a dark and dismaying context of betrayal and mental anguish, He managed to put words around his deepest longings for His beloved friends. Following three years of intensive ministry, of loving and leading an unruly band of disciples (who most likely were teens!), Jesus poured out words of hope for their future. His prayer extended beyond their immediate impact to touch a world that still desperately needs to behold His glory.

Praying Jesus’ words for my teens lifts my eyes beyond every immediate need to the greater and more pressing concerns that Jesus voiced for His followers of all time, those who were with Him at the Last Supper and those who sit around our dining-room tables today.

It’s a joy to be writing about prayer at Desiring God, and I invite you to join me there to continue reading this post based on the prayer of Jesus for His disciples (and for us!) in John 17.

I look forward to meeting you there!


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79 thoughts on “Praying the Words of Jesus for Your Teen”

  1. How does a mother ask God for help in dealing with the daily arguments without lapsing into imprecatory psalms?

    Oh Michele, thank you for keeping the humor in your wise writing, making it a pleasure to read 😊I have used prayers from Scripture but it had not occurred to me to use this one in the way you have so effectively demoed. Thank you! And Kudos for getting posted at Desiring God!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have prayed many Biblical prayers for my children over the years, but I had never thought to use this prayer of Jesus that way. Thanks so much for drawing out these truths and applying them in this way. (And congratulations on writing for the Desiring God web site!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Barbara. I think all of us reach the point where we don’t trust our own words, and hopefully that leads us to biblical prayers instead of giving up on prayer altogether!

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    1. It’s amazing to me whenever I remember that the family is the raw material through which God has chosen to work in Scripture, beginning waaaaay back with Abraham and forward. Goodness, so much dysfunction and angst going on in those OT homes. And yet God works.

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  3. These were such encouraging thoughts Michele, especially this: “When parents pray over an open Bible, the words of Scripture wrap themselves around the desires of our hearts and give us the words we don’t have.” Oh, I have found this to be true so many times. It was wonderful reading your words today.

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  4. Michele, this is beautiful in so many ways. There is much wisdom in using the very words Jesus prayed and applying them to our families. Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So often I think I have to parent out of my own wisdom and pray out of my own desperation. I’m thankful for biblical wisdom that impacts even the way I bring my kids before our Heavenly Father.

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  5. It is a difficult time those teen years for both adolescent & parents, God knows both hearts…I got to the point during those years…to anointing their rooms, beds & our entrance door with oil & much prayer for healing of relationships!

    God blessed that act of faith with miraculous healing for my daughters & I from those years…But in His timing, not mine… ;-D
    Jennifer

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So good that you have come out on the other side with strong relationships and have seen the mending work of mutual forgiveness in your family! We all have so much to learn about living together in peace.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, so true! Sometimes I am caught up short when I “listen to myself” praying for my kids. Do I really want them to be completely free of hardships so they never learn to trust God in dark times?
      Thanks for reading, Janis!

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  6. Well done, Michele. Never having married, I have no children of my own, but I do pray a number of other people’s children. I love the fact that you use the Word to pray. I do a great deal of that as an intercessor in my church and have confidence that as the Word is God’s will, my prayers will be answered. It may not look like I envision it, or happen when I want, but I am assured that the answer will come–in God’s perfect timing and way. God bless you and fulfill your desire to know Him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We are blessed to have as “satellites” to our family a number of unmarried friends and childless couples. They have prayed for our kids and encouraged us from their neutral perspective, and in many ways have served as a lifeline for us. I’m sure that is your role in the families you bless with your prayer support.
      Thank you, Diane, for the gift of your encouragement, and the insights you’ve shared here!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have been writing a book based on praying God’s Word over a period of too many years. I am not close to having it ready to publish yet, but hope to do so at some point in my life. I have been made all too aware that many people, even long-time Christians, cannot understand how to put the Word into prayer form. I have been in prayer meetings where someone will be asked to pray a certain scripture for the church, but they simply read the Word rather than make it into a prayer. I believe it is a prayer form that should be taught in churches because it is powerful.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! For sure! In some ways they are so delightful: articulate, independent, creative.
      But then these very traits are the things that get them into trouble.
      Come to think of it, I still get in trouble over those three . . .

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  7. As a mom of adult children probably your age with their own children, I still face this prayer issue as sometimes it seems I see their lives, but God reminds me in gentle ways that they won’t always do it the way that I did, but I can pray and he will listen. I still have one in their 40’s that still needs my most urgent prayers that I’ve been praying for for many years now. Is he going astray, only God knows but I continue on with the prayers. Great subject matter today. As a parent that over the parenting years, I’ve faced often, but even in all those years, there were blessings. I remember well the years you’re now dealing with, the ones where they have many new decisions to face and the battle for their identity as they see themselves vs how we see our children as their parent. Mine lasted for a few years with a couple of them, but in the end, they turned out as adults that I respect, and they’ve even told me thank you for the sometimes hard nosed parenting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Parenting is certainly a marathon and not a sprint. It sounds as if you are persevering in faithfulness with this business of praying for your kids, and I’m thankful to hear that you are reaping the rewards as your children thank you for your commitment to them.
      Blessings to you!

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  8. I’ve never heard of you until reading this on Desiring God. Thank you. It’s like you’ve been a fly on the wall in my house witnessing our daily struggles with our teenage son. “Could I even know what to ask God for when I was feeling unsure about my own motives?” These words have been my thoughts and prayer for months. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed, “Lord I have no idea what to do, what to say, or how to fix it.” Your wisdom in these scriptures is exactly what I needed. Practically speaking, from your experience, at what age does this teenage monster phase end? He’s 17 years old and a senior in high school.

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    1. I wish I could tell you how long this hard season will last in your home. You are right to be bringing your son before the Lord, and taking your own heart there as well, because so often we add to the angst with our own sinful responses to the bad behavior of our teens.
      I will tell you that, even though we have weathered our first teen trial, we still have two teen sons, and we are fully aware that the paint is still wet on our family’s parenting project. This keeps us on our knees.
      Starting a gratitude journal really helped me during the hardest stretch of my wilderness, and I’m still maintaining it after six years. There were days when I had to write some specific promises from God on that day’s lines because I could find NOTHING else to be thankful for in our chaotic life. For us, that season has passed for now, but the emphasis on gratitude has changed me.
      Thank you for letting me know that our story and the wisdom of scripture has met a need for you. I will keep you in my prayers, trusting along with you that your boy will let God move into the areas of his life that are causing the conflict in your home.

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  9. These are such wise words, Michele! I especially like the prayer, “Lord, make us one.” I’m saving all of these prayers for a few years from now when our family launches into teen world! Thanks for your wise words!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Nothing could be more powerful than the words of Jesus! Thank for a wonderful reminder to pray His words and experience their power. Blessings to you!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Lots of wisdom here! I had never thought about Jesus leading his disciples as being like parenting teenagers, but you’re right, there are a lot of similarities. I love how his prayer from so long ago can still be so applicable today!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing this post on Grace & Truth, Michele. It’s one I’ll have tucked away for reference throughout this year as my oldest prepares to transition into adulthood. While we never had any serious issues with her, I do find this prayer very applicable to my anxious heart as I think about her venturing out in the ‘big, bad’ world;) I have chosen your post as my feature this week. Thanks again for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I loved this the first time I read this and again today. I find that praying over our teens is difficult especially as their teenage angst is in full blown mode. But I also know that your four practical ways to pray are ones I need for my grown-up sons. These words will stick with me —

    When parents pray over an open Bible, the words of Scripture wrap themselves around the desires of our hearts and give us the words we don’t have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we need to be praying for our adult children as well, and I’m learning that this business of parenting adults takes a bit of finesse . . . or maybe a better way of thinking about it is that we needs lots and lots of grace!

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  14. This is a wonderful, practical, helpful post, Michele. I really enjoyed reading it. Although my son is now an adult, there are still wonderful ways I can use the Word you have shared in my prayers for him. Thank you so much for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Have a lovely weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand all too well. You sound extremely busy with all of your writing! If ever you have a spare hour, I wrote a short book on prayer. I would be honored if you felt like taking a peek. Titled “In Dark of Night When Words Fail Voice of Jesus Pray For Me”. Available on Amazon and Kindle. No reply needed. I understand if you don’t have time. Thank you for your great ministry!

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