Talking At God

Brad M. Griffin | Sep 12, 2011

Every year Group magazines Rick Lawrence unpacks the results from their surveys of students who participate in Groups summer work camp experiences. Last year they collected data from 23,000 teenagers about their faith and practices. Group published results and reflections on the data in December (you can see a pdf of the results online), but I came across this article again in my files this week as the data relates to time with God.

The good news is that two out of three spend time with God once a week or more in some form of set-aside time thats just for fueling your relationship with God. Most of them see the importanceeven necessityof some kind of time like this, indicating an internal motivation as opposed to feeling shamed or coerced by leaders or parents into doing so.

On the not-so-good news side, kids only seem to know how to talk at God during that time. Nine out of ten talk to God in prayer, two out of three also tell God about my own needs, and an equal number tell God about the needs of others.

Two out of five who set aside time to be with God listen to God during that time. A little over one in three reads the Bible during part of that time. One in five says they receive guidance from God about issues and concerns.

Ricks assessmentand I agree with himis that kids are dependable mirror-images of the adult Christians in their lives. They tend to see us as leaders and parents talking at God (telling God things, asking God for things) rather than listening to God or interacting in any other form. In this way we have ignored a huge chunk of Christian tradition and wisdom from the psalms about ways we can interact with God in prayer.

With that in mind, how are you teaching and modeling prayer that isnt only about telling or asking? What ideas do you have for others who care about teenagers and their spiritual formation?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and the series Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. Brad and his family live in Southern California.


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