This session is all about teaching young people how to lean on one another and how to have others lean on them for spiritual support. It is important to begin to “prime the pump” at the outset of the session by asking youth to pray aloud for those in their lives. This will help break down some of the anxiety that frequently exists surrounding public prayer.
Be sure to provide enough open space to ensure that youth do not get hurt when attempting the Stand Up! exercise below.
When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
The aim of this session is to help young people acquire an understanding and a practice of intercessory prayer as a unique relational reality of Christian life and as a means by which we live for others.
Youth will learn that the Christian life is not an individual pursuit, but rather that it takes place in the context of the relational body of the Church. Youth will learn that praying for another in intercession is a concrete means by which we participate in the life and burdens of one another.
Gather (5 minute)
Have the youth gather in a circle. Begin with a brief introduction to “The Jesus Prayer.” Inform youth that this is an ancient Christian prayer that is intended to open the heart to God and to contemplate God’s presence and mercy. Tell them that the words are very simple so as to focus the heart and mind on the subject of prayer: Christ. Teach them that the prayer is usually said as follows: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. For this session, however, it will be done a little differently. Instruct that youth that you will be praying the Jesus Prayer for other Tell them that you will go around the circle three times, and each time it is their turn to pray, they will pray for someone as follows: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on ______.
Greeting One Another:
Go around the circle and say their best and worst parts of the week. If the youth are not familiar with one another, use this time to repeat names and/or ages.
Introduction of Session:
Sometimes in life we find that there are things that we simply cannot handle by ourselves. We frequently are so used to having to rely on our own strength, however, that we don’t really know what to do when we are faced with those overwhelming burdens. The same is true frequently in our spiritual lives as well. We are faced with various circumstances that can easily take the wind out of our sails, and keep us feeling disconnected from God and from others. The flip side of this reality, however, is that others frequently find themselves in the same boat, spiritually stuck on a windless sea. As Christians, however, we are united in Christ, and we are one in Him, so we are actually able to bear one another’s burdens in love through the relationally distinct mode of intercessory prayer. In this session, we will be exploring just how united we are and how much our spiritual lives actually depend on others as well as how much they depend on us.
Engage (30 minutes)
Activity 1: Stand Up!
This activity has a couple parts, each with the purpose of getting youth to stand up from the floor without using their hands.
Tip: if a pair is having a difficult time standing, help them figure out how to do this. It often, when one partner tries pushing against their partner’s back until the partner feels that he or she is receiving enough pressure to push back. This is especially true when one partner is bigger than the other. This may involve more pushing on the part of the smaller partner until the bigger partner feels he or she has enough support to push back.
Activity 2: Yarn Web
Reflect (20 minutes)
Activity 3: Reflection and Bible Study
When was a time that you felt paralyzed by something in your life?
Who was there to help lift you up? If no one was there for you, what would it have been like to have the support of people you could trust?
What is something now that is weighing heavily on you that you wish someone else could help you bear?
Activity 4: Intercession
Send Forth (5 minutes)
We are truly united in Christ. We can bear the burdens that one another has, and in so doing we actually begin to share in their lives in a new way. We can take a step out of our own concerns, stop relying on our own strength and find a new way to come to the Lord together.
Ask for one of the young people to close in prayer. Encourage them to pray that this group would find new ways of standing next to one another and bringing one another to God through prayer and other ways of support.
This resource includes supplementary materials:
Introduction for Leaders