I owe a lot of who I am now when it comes to my faith thanks to the time I spent in youth group. Thankfully, I had good folks taking care of me and my friends. Youth group is where I learned to make fart sounds by putting one end of a straw in my mouth and one end in my armpit. Youth group is where I learned all the humiliating games you can play with chocolate pudding or raw eggs. Youth group is where I learned about who Jesus really was and met Him for the first time.
One time I was in youth group and we were talking about prayer. Our small group leader said she didn't know if God heard our prayers unless we ended it with "In Jesus' name I pray". She had read that somewhere in some book in one of the testaments. I remember thinking:
"Holy cow! This is in the Bible? I can't screw this up! I have a request for a date with Zac Hanson that I need to get pushed through!"
While it now seems obviously preposterous that God would be completely deaf to anything that didn't end in the right magic words, I'd be lying if I said I didn't catch myself continuing something silly. Considering I'm pretty sure I have ADD, sometimes I'm only moments into praying before I'm already thinking about how fun an office full of baby pandas really would be! And those few moments of good prayers? Obviously wasted.
I believe strongly in praying without ceasing, in making every breath your prayer to God, in including Him in all of your life, not just the churchy parts, but I turn God into a genie when I stop talking to Him to urgently sneak in a "In Jesus' name I pray" just in case He was going to "count that last one".
"I'm sure God got the request about the African kids getting food and toothbrushes, but I hope I don't forget the 'in Jesus' name' after I pray for so-and-so's grandma's cancer. I suck."
I mean, SO silly.
I've been working on talking to God like He's my best friend, not a genie. Not a request granter. Not a legalist. I'm 25 years old and I forget that I can have a conversation. And still pray in Jesus' name.
Good news- teachers, sometimes your youth group teachings really do stick.
Bad news- kids, sometimes they're crazy.
Idiot news- sometimes you're too dumb to recognize it right away.
Are there things that have carried up from your youth group days that are good? Are there things that've carried over that don't make any sense?
Pray then like this:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."