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Praying for Your Teen’s Heart and Future (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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March 19, 2024 2:00 am

Praying for Your Teen’s Heart and Future (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 19, 2024 2:00 am

Parents often face the teen years with fear because we often don’t fully understand what struggles teens are dealing with. Jodie wants to equip parents of teens to pray with confidence about dating, peer pressure, social media, prodigals and more — using the power of God’s Word. (Part 1 of 2)


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Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
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Our Daily Bread Ministries
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Focus on the Family
Jim Daly

I'm so thankful to the Lord for that, that I heard that message that night and it just really gripped my heart. Roxanne worked second shift, which meant getting home late every night. But one evening was different.

Instead of her favorite rock station, she found Focus on the Family on the radio. I didn't find out until sometime later that I actually, you know, got saved or born again or, you know, gave my heart to the Lord that night. I just knew that I prayed the prayer at the end. So I just, you know, was probably by that time almost 1230, it would take me about half of an hour to drive home and just driving in my car, crying and filled with peace and joy and just feeling the presence of the Lord.

It was wonderful. I'm Jim Daly. Working together, we can save more families like Roxanne's every month. Become a friend of Focus on the Family and invest in this ministry.

Call 800-AFAMILY or donate at slash family. My favorite parenting teen prayer comes out of Philippians two, verse 13. That verse says it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. In other words, he's giving you, he's giving your teens the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

We think it's on us. I got to get my kid to think and say and do, you know, the right thing. That's Jody Berndt describing a parent's passion for the protection and well-being of their child, especially during the teen years. And we're going to hear more from Jody today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.

I'm John Fuller and thanks for joining us. John, we know a lot of moms and dads may have an underlying sense of fear. I admit to that, especially in those teen years, like, uh oh, is this going in the right direction? The challenges teenagers face today seems so much greater than what our generation dealt with.

It's right in their face. Social media brings it right into every room and they're just constantly battling it throughout the day. Think about the pressures of social media, depression, anxiety, addiction and how teens can become disillusioned about their faith.

How does their faith help them in these very specific ways? All of these issues can terrify us as parents. I know Jean and I went through that, you know, the explicit stuff that our boys could trip on looking at the phone. Their friends might show them, whatever it might be.

So we're connecting on this. But, you know, 2 Timothy 1 reminds us God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. That's what we have to equip our kids to possess. And our roles as parents is to pray for our kids, to help them know those boundaries, to lift them up in prayer. And today we're going to talk about that element of how we lift our teens up in prayer and trust God for the outcome.

And if you're honest, as I'm trying to be, that's hard to do. Yeah, kids will, especially teens, give you lots of opportunity to develop a prayer life. And Jodi Berndt is going to help us really think through how to do that. She's been here a number of times and is a Bible teacher and speaker and has written a series of books about praying the scriptures for your marriage and for your family. And she's got a book called Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens, which forms the foundation of our conversation today. Probably the most important book you've ever written, Jodi. Yeah, it's a great book.

It's full of great practical daily exercises of prayer that you can engage in. And we've got details about the book. Get a copy from us. Just stop by our website.

The link is in the program description. Jodi, welcome back to Focus on the Family. Thank you so much, Jim. It's great to be here, but I'll tell you, I don't know that we have much to talk about. I think in that intro you just nailed it. You said there's problems out there. God doesn't give us a spirit of fear and he invites us to pray. That's true.

But man, putting it into practice is another issue. So that's why we're going to talk today and tomorrow about this topic. So good that Robbie, your husband, is in the gallery there and joining. Yay, Robbie. It's nice that he traveled with you.

Way to go, Robbie. Hey, that is part of it, this fear factor that many parents have. And, you know, Jean and I fit in that camp, too. When you're parenting children, there are going to be times when you're going, OK, can I really trust the Lord? Right. If you're honest. And things may not be going the way that I anticipated they should go. And in this, can I really trust the Lord? So I guess generally the idea is, you know, every mountain, a Mohill, every Mohill, a mountain.

That's kind of how Jean reacted, you know. We're always saying, OK, is this a mountain or a Mohill? Speak to that issue of discernment, I guess, and what parenting is like today, just whacking down all these threats that we see. Well, I don't know.

I would wonder if every generation doesn't think we're in the hardest time. I think that's true. I don't know that. But those mountain Mohill distinguishing characteristics, you know, how can you tell? Is this something to really worry about?

Is this something to not? And I think that's where prayer really does come in, because we don't know all the answers. We don't know our teen's heart. We don't even know where they are some of the time physically. And we certainly don't always know where they are emotionally. But the beautiful thing is that God does. You know, he searches hearts. His understanding, Scripture says, has no limit. So even though we might not know, he does. And we can ask him to equip us with that kind of discernment.

And as you said in the intro, again, to give us a spirit of self-control, of confidence, a sound mind, not so that we have to be victims of fear. And I want the parents that are listening or watching on YouTube, I just want to encourage you to stick with this, because we're not going to dance around the tough issues. We'll talk about the teens that are prodigals and doing difficult things. And how do we pray for them, really? You're going to pray for them, Jody?

You know, we'll get to all of that. But I think generally speaking, what's the encouragement that you would give us right from the get-go here about praying for our teenagers? How did you pray for your teenagers?

Let's just ask that question. How did I pray? Well, you know, I prayed a lot. And that's very honest. You're very honest in the book about difficulties. I wasn't planning to write the book. This is the one you didn't want to write.

I didn't want to write this one. I had written Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, and that book covered, I don't know, 20, 24 different topics about their faith and their character and their future. Taking care of their boo-boos.

All of that. But I had written in there about their future, their marriage partner, their purpose in life. And then I'll never forget, our daughter came home, and there was a guy with her, and he was wearing a T-shirt that had a word on it that you can't say on air, certainly not on focus on the family. And he's there how old?

He was, they were teens, young teens. And, you know, they're in our home, and I saw his shirt, and I saw my younger son who was learning to read, trying to sound it out, you know. And I just thought, where are we going with this? So I thought, I've got to figure out some prayers for my daughter and her dating relationships and her friendships. So I grabbed that first book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Children. No, I thought you were going to say you grabbed the shirt. No, I wanted to grab the shirt. So you grabbed the book. Yeah, so I, you know, later that day I went and I got the book, and I thought, okay, what's in here? And I realized I'd moved from praying for your child's friendships to praying for your child's marriage partner eventually. I thought I was being future thinking, and I never wrote anything about those dating years.

And I thought, okay, we've got to go back to the drawing board here. I need to interview some wiser parents. I need to get some scriptures in my arsenal to be able to cover my daughter with those things. And you said it already, there's so many different things we pray about as our kids move through the teen years. Their friendships, their dating relationships, but also their emotional health, their mental health, their character.

I think it is so hard today, you know, rates of anxiety, depression, all-time highs. So lots and lots to cover. And the good thing is God's a parent. He gets it. He's been everywhere we are.

And so he invites us to partner with him through our prayers. That's so true. And, you know, again, there's a wide spectrum of households represented in the Christian community. Some will have pretty strict rules. Some don't have a boy with a bad word on his shirt, I know. And no dating. And we get that. And then others will be in the middle. We have boundaries.

We know that the boys and girls are going to date at 16, 17 or what have you. So, again, just be gentle as we talk through this if you're listening and viewing. And just apply the principles, I would suggest, to what we're talking about.

Because you've done a great job crafting this. Always good to start with Scripture. So let's get into 1 Samuel 7, this huge battle that occurred. And then the victor did something unique that caught your attention when it comes to parenting.

Well, I love that story. The Israelites were on the battlefield. Yet again, you know, the Old Testament is full of battles.

But I think so is parenting, right? So we get a lot of encouragement from that. And in this particular case in 1 Samuel, they're fighting and it's not going well. And they cry out to Samuel, say, pray for us, pray for us. And he does pray for them. And they win that particular battle.

But they know the war is not over. And yet I love that instead of just leaving it there and moving on, they erect what Scripture calls an Ebenezer stone. They put up this monument to say thus far the Lord has helped us. And for me, as I parented our teens, I tried to be, and Robbie as well, super intentional about marking those times when we knew God had helped us. I actually wrote it on a rock at one point. 1 Samuel 7, I think it's verse 12, thus far the Lord has helped us.

And I kept it in the console of my car. Because just looking at what he had done in one situation would fill me with faith to pray for the next. Because I don't know about you, Jim, but I never have fully learned to relax and trust God.

Every new mountain that comes along, every wave that hits, we live at the beach. And I feel like there's a lot of hurricane warnings. Every time we get one of those things in our parenting, my default position can be immediately to go to worry.

What if? Can I trust God? And so I think those Ebenezer stones, those times of reflection of what God has done in the past, thus far he's helped us, can really equip us to pray with faith and boldness for the future. Well, and I think this theme will permeate our discussion. You know, for the people, the 99% that are going to be right where you're at. You know, I'm leaving some percentage, maybe 1%, 5%, where they deeply believe and trust the Lord.

And it doesn't rock their boat when that hurricane comes in their teen years, you know, the kids' teen years. But how do you rest in God with that? This is the ultimate question, right?

It really is. It's the ultimate question. I don't know if there's any easy answer, but there's tools we can apply, and that's what we're going to do today.

Yeah, there's not an easy answer. And, you know, not to get too deep too quick, but I will say I have walked that road and wrestled. And I was praying for my teens and then my adult children, and I didn't think the needle was moving.

And in some cases, it was definitely not the answer I was looking for. And I remember saying to the Lord, I trusted you. You know, I trusted you, God. I know you're good. I know you're faithful. I know this would be a good outcome. Why? Why is this not resolving itself in the right way?

And he was so good. He was gentle, but very firm, saying to me, you know, Jody, you didn't trust in me. You trusted in an outcome that you thought was the right one. You know, I don't want you to want the gift. I want you to want the giver.

I don't want you to want the result. I want you to want the relationship. I want you to know what it feels like to trust me. And not only that, but when things aren't going the way you think, you're welcome to climb into my embrace. Let me comfort you. You know, let me tend to your hurts, mama or daddy, whoever you are, thinking through this stuff.

Let God comfort you in that and strengthen you to send you back out into that battlefield to pray, because he is good and he is trustworthy, but we don't always see it. You know, when you think about that, so many great thinkers, Gary Thomas on marriage and others. When you look at all of life and the structures that God has put in place, whether it's marriage or parenting, he's trying to teach us something in this. And it is that rest in him kind of attitude. And it's amazing how dense we can be getting there. And, you know, we're all human.

We have our shortcomings. But that does seem to be the purpose of life is to build our trust and faith and hope in him. There's so much that he does in us and in the people around us that we're not aware of.

And, you know, you said Robbie's in the gallery. I'll tell you, he's probably right now saying, you need to say this, Jody. Tim Keller, one of our favorite authors, Robbie's favorite Keller quote is about prayer. And it is, when we pray, God will either give us what we ask for or what we would have asked for, had we known everything he knows. And I think that's a great thing to remember as we're parenting teenagers is God's on it. The other thing is it sets the right expectation. And speaking of that, let's get to that parenting conflict area.

I think, you know, as you're growing as a parent, of course, we all have, I think it's healthy to have that trauma when the hospital person puts that little baby in your arms. It's okay. You can go home now. You're going, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Are you coming with me?

Where's the manual? What do I do now? You know, Jean and I felt like that with Trent.

We're like, we don't know what to do. And boom, you're on your way home. And now it starts rolling. And it's pretty good in the early years, you know, things go normally. He likes to follow you around the house and go to work with you.

And daddy, let's play catch. And all those things are going along. Then there's something that happens. Some kind of dust comes over their room. It's called teenager. And then they get up and go, I don't really feel like doing that. They start having their own opinions and playing with friends that maybe you didn't pick. All of that. Yep. It's the one word answers. I didn't have the benefit of girls. But John, you can describe the girl.

They're a breeze. Darn it. But, you know, let's speak to that conflict area, which to a degree is probably inevitable. It's probably natural. It's probably healthy that the separation begins. But now puts us on a whole nother parenting journey about trust, hope, faith, all of that.

And you're right. You say it's probably healthy. I think it is healthy, you know, that that in fact, my friend Lisa Robertson used to always say, as your teens get closer and closer to the time they're going to leave your nest, whether it's for a job or college or whatever, she says they can really begin to become a but.

How do you spell that? And she said she said, but that's God's way sometimes of beginning to separate you, to be able to to allow you to relinquish them, to release them. But it is so hard, as you say, you want to be able to control who they're with, what they say, what they do.

And we can't always do that. So in that point of conflict, a real practical question, in that point of conflict where that, you know, that first 13 year old thing happens, the attitude flares. You know, what are things we need to think about as parents? And really, thankfully, a young parent can listen to this and go, OK, my child's only nine. So we're equipping them to say, here's how you're going to want to think about that moment of conflict. Yeah, well, and there will be. And for what that's right there, knowing that there will be, I think is freeing for parents because you don't have to think, oh, no, you're not a failure. You're not a failure and you're not alone.

And this is normal. But having humility and having trust, I think are the two things that can help preserve your relationship with your teen. Humility to consider that you might not always be right. You know, that sometimes you need to take whatever this issue is to the Lord or if you're married to your spouse, because they can be kind of a level setter.

Robbie certainly was for me because I would be freaking out about something. And that's a good thing. The two of you working together.

It is such a good thing, yes. And then the second thing, in addition to that, humility to recognize that, you know, we're all navigating this journey. We might not have all the answers as parents, but then trust, too, to trust that God is our backstop. He is there. He knows. He gets it.

And he will see us through. Jody, a common tension point in parenting centers around a little word called control. Who's in control? And again, at the teen years, that's really when this is blossoming, to use a positive metaphor. Your teen is blossoming into decision making and control. Yeah, they actually get to drive a car at 16 in most states. That's a little crazy.

15 and others. And so speak to this issue. I think you had a story about a mom named Leslie who struggled with her teen daughter. A great example.

So let's go there. Yeah, yeah. Leslie is a friend, and she had a lovely daughter, has a lovely daughter, Sarah Kay. And Sarah Kay, their whole family was going to go to another sibling's college graduation. And Sarah Kay found out it was the same weekend as prom. Hold it, we need music. We need music. Dun dun dun dun. Conflict coming, right? So the mother, of course, thinks graduation, once in a lifetime event.

We need to be there for your sister as a family. And Sarah Kay thinks, what on earth? This is my prom.

I'm in high school. I don't want to miss this. And so tension, tension, tension. And I love how Leslie approached it because, again, she took the humility to think, OK, let me.

And this wasn't right away. You know, there was definitely a lot of tension in there to start with. But she got to the point where she was willing to pray about it and say, God, I don't see how this could be. I believe we need to be together for the college graduation, but I'm going to trust you as the way maker. Well, as she's praying, what she doesn't know what's happening is that a family friend also wants to go to the graduation, has offered to take Sarah Kay the next day.

So they'll get there in time for the ceremony. And it all works out. And what none of them could have predicted is that Sarah Kay would be named prom queen. That would have been a big mess. And this mom could have just stuck to her guns and said, nope, you know, we're going as a family. But instead, she backed off and thought, I don't know how we can do this.

I want us all there as a family, but I'm going to pray about it. And as she prayed, then this other transportation presented itself and everything was able to work out. This issue of control is a big one, and it is it needs to be observed by the parent that this is a natural progression. That did you ever really have control is a good starting question. Trent, my oldest, when he went off to college, you know, he was ready.

His foot was out the door the day of graduation from high school and moving into a student complex, an apartment complex. And I was like, panicked, like, OK, there's going to be drugs and other things going on there. So I had the, you know, the talk about, hey, you got to be really careful. And he just looked at me and goes, Dad, you've taught me the right things to do. But what went on?

This was the control part. He goes, you know how I am. No one's going to talk me into doing something I don't want to do. But if I want to do something, I'm going to do it. You know that I said. But you've taught me the things not to do and the things to do. So he said, you know, just trust that.

I was like, OK. But I mean, that's a strong willed child, but you don't you're never really in control. You're never really in control. And your kids, like we said earlier, they can be out of your reach. They might not be they might be still at your dinner table and they're out of your reach because they're not there emotionally. They don't want to listen to what you have to say. You, Jim, are teaching your son, but is he picking it up?

You don't know. And yet that's where the gift of prayer comes in, because God invites us to partner with him through our prayers to accomplish his best purposes. In our kids lives. I think the lack of that feedback loop is a great point, because I think, you know, when you're you're raising your children and saying, now say please and thank you. And, you know, they stumble through that. And then all of a sudden at some age, like you hear them say it on their own without coaching.

You're going, oh, my goodness, they heard me. Yeah. And it's kind of the same in this area of responsibility. You know, you're saying do this, do that, or let's pray about this.

Let's think this way about this. And you do that almost like a rehearsal all the time, all the time. And then hopefully you're going to see that spark that one day they do it for themselves.

Right. And if you don't see it, you can still have the confidence that God is working. Like my favorite parenting teen prayer comes out of Philippians 2, verse 13. That verse says, it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. In other words, he's giving you, he's giving your teens the desire and the power to do what pleases him. We think it's on us. I got to get my kid to think and say and do, you know, the right thing. And God is saying, Philippians 2, it's the Lord who's working all of this.

I think often we read that scripture and put us in there, right? Oh, absolutely. I'm like, I work in them. It is dad's job.

Mom's job. I know. I know.

That's so true. Let's recognize that it can be heartbreaking for parents when their teenagers struggle with friends or, you know, they're just something socially that's not working. And I understand that this was an issue during your early teen years, which is hard to believe because you're so outgoing and so pleasant. Well, thanks be to God. You know, what was going on for you as a child?

Okay. True story. True story. And I wish I had a photo. You know, back then we didn't have our phones and could take pictures all the time, but this would be classic.

You could pop it up for the audience to see. But I went through middle school and I had these little wire rim John Lennon glasses and I had braces on my teeth and I had this headgear that I wore every day, wrapped around the back of my head, wrapped around my neck. I mean, I mean, I told myself, I tried to tell myself it was jewelry. You know, it was an accessory, but it was not. It was not attractive.

But not only that. In junior high. In junior high. Middle school.

That's really tough. You know, hats off to my parents. Honestly, parents listening, they were great at telling me that they thought I was beautiful. And, you know, when you hear that enough from your parents, it can start to take root in your soul, even when you're wrapped up in metal headgear and glasses and all that.

But the other thing my parents did and parents, I'm not sure I'd recommend this one. I wanted a purse to look like all the other girls because the cool girls had these beautiful leather purses that had flowers etched in them and colored. And I said, I just all I want for my birthday is a leather purse with the flowers. And they went to the Christian bookstore where they got a discount and they found a purse. But my purse was twice the size of the other girls. And it came not just with the flowers engraved, but the words Jesus is Lord were engraved on my purse. And, you know, I carried that purse to school every day.

So there I am in my headgear and my braces and my glasses and my Jesus is Lord purse. And so you're wondering why I. I'm not responding to any of this. I know. I know. I don't.

Maybe I had read that. I'm a boy, but I could feel your pain. I guess I'd read that verse. You know, if anyone's ashamed of me, I'll be ashamed of him and my king. I don't know what what made me do it.

We're stacking the deck against you. But I will tell you, during that lonely season and it was a lonely season. I really leaned into the Lord. I'm grateful that I knew him even as a teenager, a young teen.

And I think that that time helped shape me and for me to know that he would never leave me and he was with me. And for a parent who has a child going through that without friends and maybe they're not as extreme as I was. But to just pray that they can sense God's nearness, his presence, his comfort, and then continue to use your words. Mom and Dad Proverbs 18 21 says words kill words give life.

They're either poison or fruit. You choose. That's the message translation of that Proverbs 18. I think we can give our kids our loneliest kids life when we speak those words over them. You are beautiful. You know, you are so kind. You are accomplished. God loves you so much.

You're his masterpiece. You know, I totally agree. And next time when we come back, we'll talk more about identity, identity in Christ, because it's so critical today. I don't know that we can do enough because that's such a big well for young people that we can do enough to fill it. But we have got to concentrate on that so they don't get lost in some other identity other than rooted in Christ, belonging to Christ, etc. Let's end on this one.

And we're going to come back next time, like we talked about and pick up the discussion there. But you warn parents about turning their teens into an idol. This is really important.

How does that happen? And what should we be doing instead? Well, you know, I think when you say that don't turn your teens into an idol. What comes to people's minds is the idea that, oh, my kid is, you know, on the varsity football team.

He's the quarterback. My daughter's homecoming queen. There's a certain pride that comes with that. Sure. You can see how a parent could make a child an idol with that. But I want to speak to the parents whose kids are presenting concerns for them, because I think we can make our children into idols when we give in to worry and fear, when we allow those concerns to take up the radar screen of our thoughts and our minds rather than God and his glory and his throne and his power. Kids can become idols when they make us so proud and they can become idols when they make us so worried. So I just encourage people to trust their kids to the Lord.

Yeah, that's so good, Jody. I can't wait to get into the conversation next time, too, and cover more of these things. Like I said, identity and some of the other difficulties that teens are facing and where do parents show up. Here's some good news.

When they do the research, teenagers will say the most significant relationship they have by far is with their parents. And that's a good thing. It's not social media. They may not be expressing it. They might be showing that distance. But they say it overwhelmingly.

It's like 75, 80 percent of teens say, my most important relationship is with my parents. And that's a good thing. So let's build on it. It's a great thing. This has been great.

John, you've said it. If you can contact us and would like a copy of this, make a donation of any amount and we will send it to you as our way of saying thank you. That's a good way to support the ministry.

That's why we do that in that way. If you buy it from another group through direct mail, you certainly are helping their profit. But that money is not going back into ministry. And it's a fun way to do both, get a great resource and support ministry.

So do that. One of the things that I'd like to encourage you to consider is Friends of Focus on the Family. It's a membership drive that we have going right now. We're trying to find a thousand people that will step up. John and Dina do it this way.

Jean and I. We support Focus on the Family monthly. And there's about 50,000 people that are doing that right now. And we'd like to see if there's another thousand that would like to join that group. So if you can, join monthly. And again, we'll send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you. Yeah, we invite you to prayerfully consider joining the support team and be a monthly donor if you can be. If you're not in a spot to do that, make a one-time gift of any amount.

Either way, we'll send a copy of Jody's terrific book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens, Opening the Door for God's Provision in Their Lives. This is such a practical, helpful resource. Get a copy from us here today when you donate. And you can call 1-800, the letter A in the word family to do that. Or stop by the website.

We've got the link in the program description. And don't forget, we've got a link to Jody's 31 Days of Prayer for Your Teens calendar that you can print out and have that with you and pray that every day for your teens. Jody, again, thanks for being with us. And let's get into it next time. Oh, thanks.

Can't wait. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. As a parent, it's easy to find myself sitting backseat to my kids in the backseat. It's tough to be a step ahead.

In full honesty, I'm pretty hard on myself when that happens. But I've found Practice Makes Parent, a podcast from Focus on the Family, hosted by Dr. Danny Huerta and Rebecca St. James. It helps me be more intentional and not feel alone when things get tough. Everything they share is practical and well practiced, and I can use it right away. Learn to practice makes parent wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-19 02:25:55 / 2024-03-19 02:39:18 / 13

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