Lately, I have been praying more. Well, I’ve been trying to pray more. I have been encouraging my children to read Sacred Scripture and focus on a verse that they can claim for that day. Other Christian faiths seem to be a little more comfortable with their Bibles than some Catholics are. We appear to be apprehensive about looking up a verse and really thinking about what it means for us.
A couple of guidelines can assist us as Faith Formation Educators when we want to introduce this type of praying to our students. The main concern expressed about praying scripture, is that verses can be taken out of context or even misunderstood. A good way to better understand what is said, meant and the correct context is to use a Catholic Bible (The New American Bible for Catholics is a good one) and then familiarize the class with how it works. There are footnotes and cross-references at the bottom of each page. Using these tools can help us to properly understand the verses we are reading.
A second thing to consider when praying with our teens, is that boys and girls pray differently. Girls think, act and pray emotionally. They relate to feeling something when they pray. They usually enjoy mediations, or guided, open praying. Boys, on the other hand, are private, linear, and action-oriented by nature. They may have a stronger experience while doing a project for the church. I know one young man who cleaned off the pews as a service project. Another boy I know raised money and then built an outdoor, walk-through, Stations of the Cross. My own husband finds it difficult to just sit and pray, so he fasts for me and our family every Wednesday (breakfast and lunch). In fact, I believe going to work for us every day is his prayer for us. Praying with boys may be a little more challenging for some youth group leaders. Perhaps finding ways to combine active prayer with meditative prayer would benefit both the young women and young men in youth group.
Finally, consider grabbing a church missal and reviewing the Mass with your students. Have them find the readings, responses, the phrases (i.e. “Lamb of God”) and identify where each of them can be found in Sacred Scripture. Many Catholics don’t even realize that the words of the Mass are straight out of the Bible! Finding new ways to pray can improve the quality and quantity of our prayer time. Many Blessings.