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

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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March 20, 2024 2:00 am

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

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 20, 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 2 of 2)


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As a young teen, Mary became a follower of Jesus after reading Focus on the Family's Brio magazine.

And I remember thinking to myself, I don't have that. I'd really like to know what that's about. And so it was an inward decision right there that I made in my room after reading this article in the Brio magazine that I want to have that kind of walk with God that this girl is talking about. For 30 years, we've helped Mary grow in her faith. We've strengthened her marriage. And now we're equipping her to be a good mom to her own kids. Like really Focus on the Family has been and all the different resources and individuals, the voices of Focus on the Family has really been a mentor to me, to my family.

And just it's cool to see the legacy. I'm Jim Daly. Working together, we can save more families like Mary's every month.

Please call 800-AFAMILY or donate at slash family. 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. Well, that's Jody Berndt. And she shared with us last time about the importance of prayer and how you can use God's word to pray for those unique challenges that are facing your teenager. If you've got teens or preteens or really children of any age, you're going to find Jody's insights very helpful for the spiritual growth of your family. We're looking forward to more of her encouragement today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. You know, Jon, I'm so pleased to have Jody back. There are people that are what I would say life givers.

I mean, they've lived life. In this case, Jody's written a great series of books on how to pray for your marriage, how to pray for your child, how to pray for your teen now. And we talked about how she got there last time.

If you didn't hear it, go back and listen to episode one of our two-part interview with Jody. But that's the way it is. There are life givers. That's why they're here. I think that God's using their gift to communicate really insightful things and wisdom that we need to know. And I'm looking forward to jumping back into this discussion about your relationship with your teenagers and what are we aiming for. Yeah, we covered a lot of different concerns that parents have and how prayer can address those concerns.

And give God an opportunity to work. And Jody is an excellent speaker, writer, and a very accomplished person. She's been here a number of times. She's written a series of books about praying the Scriptures.

And the one that forms the foundation for our conversation for this series is Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens, Opening the Door for God's Provision in Their Lives. What a helpful and hopeful subtitle. I will encourage you to get a copy of the book from us here.

We've got details in the program notes. Jody, welcome back. Thank you so much. Part two. Part two. Of clearing your mind of the problems about raising teens. That wasn't quite the title, but let's kick it off here.

And we're going to get into a lot of great things, so I hope you can stick with us if you're watching or listening. Just some of the difficulties of raising teenagers and what is God trying to teach everybody in the process, not just the teen, but you as the parent, which is sometimes hard for the Lord to get through to us. Absolutely. He's actually trying to teach us something. Let's go to one of the root moments in raising teenagers, driving the car. Oh, yes. Teaching them to drive the car.

I mean, everybody's got a funny story on this one, but how about you and Robby, how did that work out in your household? Oh, well, you know. Who had control?

Well, hopefully the Lord. Yeah, I remember when our eldest Hillary began to drive, one of her classmates who thought of her as somewhat scatterbrained or whatever, he gave her, he said, I'll bet you $20 that you can't go, you know, the first week or the first month without an accident, without hitting at least a mailbox. There's a challenge. Yeah. And you know what? I was so grateful to that kid because she wouldn't have done it for me, but she did it for him. She took that bet and was super careful.

And at the end of the month, I think I thought I want to slip the guy another $20 and say, see if she'll go double or nothing. That's a whole other topic. Oh, exactly.

Exactly. But, you know, that is an area where, what is it? Psalm 91, they say a lot of times it's the soldier's Psalm, the one that talks about angelic protection. I think I prayed verses from that.

God, give your angels charge over Hillary. Guard her in all her ways, especially as she's behind the wheel. Families today, you know, they live in, we're jumping from one kind of lighthearted topic, the driving experience, to more serious topic and how sexualized the culture is. And I would say, you know, for Jean and I, this was a big issue.

Very, Jean was very tender about this. She was really concerned about it with smartphones and friends' phones and pads and all the stuff they could access. And I guess the question is, how do we talk about the standards and enforce the standards? This is probably one of the number one questions parents will contact us about, is technology and limiting technology. Absolutely. They say, I know Andy Crouch wrote that book, The TechWise Family, and he says in there that technology is the number one reason why parents are more nervous today than ever before.

It brings every bit of garbage from outside your home in. And it changes. Like the minute you think you've figured out Instagram, say, OK, well, now there's TikTok.

And what you think? OK, you know how to text? Well, they don't text anymore. Now they Snapchat. And even while I'm talking to you, I'm sure they've invented something else that's going to make what I've just said sound.

And the kids will be there way before. Exactly. So we can't keep up.

So what what were some of the things that you did and what do you recommend? Well, you know, it is tough, as you said, especially the easy access to things like pornography. And, you know, there are studies that show that today's teens think it's way worse if you don't recycle than it is if you look at porn. You know, it's just a whole mindset that thinks of things so differently. But I'll tell you, I really drew encouragement from the story of Nehemiah. You know, he was trying to rebuild that wall and he was under attack, just like we can feel as parents, things coming at us all the time.

His people, his laborers were getting weary. And there's this beautiful verse that I think all families can cling to. Nehemiah 4, 14, when it's coming at them from all sides and they're afraid, just like we're afraid as we're looking at all this technology, everything else.

Nehemiah says, Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord who is great and awesome and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes. And I look at that and I go, that's what we're doing. You know, we fight for our families. We fight for our kids in prayer. And I love the plan that Nehemiah did. He and I think you can boil it down to three steps.

I'm sure a Bible scholar could add to this. But I think what he did was post a guard and we can do the same thing as we set boundaries in our family's technology. Filters, certainly filters, passwords, time limits for social media use.

But then also he put that guard up and then he made a plan. We want to model good behaviors. It's a lot easier for a parent to let a kid spend time with the screen than it is to come up with some adventure outside the home or some game. Way easier to just say, OK, kid, take your phone, take your computer, whatever. But parents can think about things that we can do as families and get other families involved in doing it with us because your kid's going to say no. Maybe if it's just you saying, but if you say, oh, the Johnsons and the Smiths, they're going to.

Oh, and they have a cute daughter, whatever. You know, bring that together. We can make it fun to get out there and do those things. Prioritizing connection and communication over that. So that's our plan. And then we can pray. And you know what Nehemiah did?

He made this buddy system where he would protect Jerusalem during the rebuilding. And parents can do the same thing. We can partner with other parents. I know that we talk often about moms in prayer and the groups they have that allow you to pray with other moms. As we come bring our kids before the Lord and all these things, technology, anxiety, depression, the pornography, all of that stuff. When we have a buddy that will pray with us and for us, that's a powerful thing right there.

I think we want to post a guard. We want to make a plan. And every family is different.

So your plan is not going to look exactly like my plan, but and then pray for it. Yeah. Jody, let's move from that sexualized scenario that we talked about to body image and the other things that kids experience. That's young people experience, teens experience. You mentioned it, you know, when you were in junior high and what you were facing with your braces and everything.

That's very kind. But the, you know, the idea of body image, again, because things are so sexualized and there's, you know, the 10 person is put out on the pedestal. I can only imagine the grief that teen girls are feeling. Yeah, you say girls but boys too.

Oh, I know. Boys with body image. I was going to mention that, you know, in terms of weightlifting and trying to have a physique that matches some 20 year old. But all of that kind of speaks to identity crisis.

I mean, so they're trying to find some identity. They're very insecure. I was insecure in high school about my size, you know, my body.

Am I big enough to play football? And I did all those things. But even doing it, I was the quarterback of the football team. I still had so many doubts. Then I did positive thoughts about where I was at and where I was going.

I should have made that pass a little better. All that stuff. But speak to identity in Christ because my sense is, especially with sexual identity issues today with the kids, parents cannot do enough to talk about with their children who they are in Christ. Right. And I think that can sound very 10,000 foot view, your identity in Christ. You know, Christians, we throw that around.

Yeah. We want you to be rooted in Christ, have your identity in him. But what does that really mean? And I think for us, if we want to get down to the very basics, is to know that you are Christ's beloved. You know, that's all of scripture is his love letter to us. But I think when we take hold of verses like Ephesians 2, 8, which talks about we are God's masterpiece. Psalm 139, we're fearfully and wonderfully made.

When we begin to speak those things over our kids and into their lives from an early age, letting them know you're beautiful. God has made you wonderfully. And even that child that is not looking real wonderful right that minute, you can speak into the thing that you want to see. You know, I love how funny God made you. You know, I think he's going to use that gift in your life. Or, hey, I noticed that you did such and such for your sibling. That was really kind. I love seeing the way God is developing kindness in you. And I think our children will rise to those things when we, instead of, what's wrong with you?

How could you have done that? To take time to notice those things that they're doing right. You know, it's the tiniest thing. And to speak into that. Yeah, I think that's great. And that, again, I think it's drip, drip, drip.

It's drip irrigation. And when we're constantly speaking positively, spiritually to our children about God's love for them, God's acceptance of them. His love for him. That does make a difference. And that begins to find the rootedness that they need in identity. And for us as well. Because we can think we've blown it.

We can think we don't have what it takes. You know, in that regard, probably the most difficult part of this conversation with teens is suicidal ideation and those deep what ifs. We've got a great resource for parents, for youth pastors, for coaches, Live to Thrive. It's free. If you want to be informed about teen suicidal ideation, get a hold of us.

We'll get it to you for free. We'd love to see the resource fly out of focus on the family because this is actually saving people's lives. Absolutely. But speak to that environment of self-harm and suicide. What do parents need to know and how do we engage that if we have? Probably the biggest question is we think we might suspect something, but we don't act on it.

And oh, my goodness, parents say that. Well, you know, and I thank you so much for the resources you provide because those things are difference makers because we don't know what to do. We don't even know what's going on sometimes. And because of what we see in the news, the statistics we hear, we can find ourselves a little ball of worry and fear. And that's not how God wants us to live.

He wants us to trade that panic for peace. And one of the ways we do that is by praying for discernment, for wisdom. You know, Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20, he says, we don't know what to do, but our eyes are on you. And we can say that to the Lord. We can say, I don't know what to do. I don't know what my child is thinking, but, you know, you're the God who searches hearts. You weigh motives. You know, Lord.

So would you show me? And then also we can take comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit is praying for us and he's praying with us, right? That Romans 8, when we don't know how to pray, we know the Holy Spirit is interceding sometimes with words that, you know, groans that words can't even express.

I love knowing that. And, you know, we did have kids very close to us go through that self-harm and that suicide. And I just, you feel so powerless because you don't know what's going through their mind. And yet you can turn to the Lord who does know and you can say, show me, open my eyes. Let me know how much you love this child, this person. Show me how to pray and show me if there are ways that I need to speak up. Pray for God to open opportunities.

He will. Yeah. Jodie, in the book, you describe a family situation that you were in with your daughter. And I so appreciate that vulnerability. And you have her permission to talk about it. So all those bases are covered.

But this is the real nitty gritty. Your daughter was kind of a little bit on the party side and doing things that I'm sure you and Robbie were like, what? Probably having pillow talk like, if we were better parents, she wouldn't be doing these things. I get it.

Yeah. Teens were hard for me. I, I knew my kids were Christians and I was expecting it to be fun because I honestly, I think teenagers are a ton of fun.

But when they're your teenagers and they're making decisions. So and in fact, this story, if somebody is reading the book, it is Virginia is the one it's about. And her name is not mentioned because at the time she was a teen and I'm writing this and I did not want to out any of my kids. So she's called Isabel.

But since then, she's given me permission to call her Virginia and tell her story. And she was a child who loved life. She still loves life.

John 10, 10 is her favorite verse. Me too. Oh, there you go.

I love it. I got to meet her. Yeah, you do have to meet her.

Two peas in a pod. She lives big. And so she knew the Lord, loved Jesus, but was full on into the social world and the party world.

And she would say to me, you know, Mom, it's going to be fine when all the kids come to our house. They know we're a Christian house. We do young life. We do all this stuff.

It's me. And it wouldn't be fine. It would be kids, you know, bringing in the alcohol and hiding it and and robbing our home.

You know, we see parents who aren't home. Right. And you think things go. But we were we thought we were super on it.

And this is happening right there. And I was just kind of devastated. And I began to pray a prayer that all my kids hate.

It's from numbers, I think, 23 or no numbers, 32. I get that back. Be sure your sin will find you out. And so I would pray, Lord, you know, if they're doing anything wrong, expose them. And what I will say to parents who pray that that their kids will get caught, be ready for the consequences, because there will be consequences.

You know, it's easy. That's a brave prayer. It's a brave, but a good one. And anyway, in Virginia's case, she just kept coming up against hard things like she would get rear ended on the way to school, which wasn't her fault. But then she would rear end someone else, which was her fault. Or she would just one thing after the other to where she just looked at me when she said, you know, I wonder if God's trying to get my attention.

And I said, well, maybe he is Virginia. And as we're praying about it and, you know, I love the ministry Young Life for Teens. And they agreed to take her as a high schooler on their work crew in the summer knowing exactly how she was being. They said, you know, just send her to us.

We get it. And she came home from that time and she painted herself a little sign and hung it in a room and it said two feet in. She said, I'm done leaving one foot in the world and one foot in scripture.

I need to put both feet in. And I would say Robbie told on Virginia at her rehearsal dinner, you know, you expect the groomsmen to tell the bad stories, right? Not the father of the bride.

But he did. He told a story that I won't repeat now, but it was a story of of that time in her life that was so hard. And she's sitting there like, thanks, dad.

But he's told it as a testimony to God's faithfulness because we wanted to acknowledge that God brought her around and did that. And I will say to any parent listening who's going, all right, my kid is so social, they're off the charts. My child struggles with anger and self-control, whatever those negative character traits are that we can spot in some of our kids. You said it earlier as we were talking, sometimes you get this easy teen kid. And Ansley, if you're listening, thanks for being an easy teenager. We love you.

We love you. But sometimes it's trickier. And I will say that every one of those attributes or character traits has that flat side, that ugly side.

But it also has a good side. Like Virginia's, you know, one foot in the world, one foot in God. She now lives in New York City and she is magnetic at drawing people to Christ because she knows how to operate in a secular world.

She's fully committed to Christ, but she's using that gift. My son Robbie, we've talked before he dealt with anger and passion and lack of self-control. God used all of those things to make him a college athlete because he was quick and he was passionate and and speedy to respond.

And those things came together athletically. And once God brought his passions under control, you'd never know that now. He's a gentle, wonderful man. The only caveat I would have is that keep your eye on the quiet one. The compliant one. Absolutely.

Because usually they're down the list in birth order. They've learned how to not be obvious about it. Ansley watched. Ansley watched, I'll tell you. But we did have to keep our eye on it. You're right. You've got to keep a little bit of an eye on there. They may be really good, but you never know. You never know. That's great.

That's really good advice. In your book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens, you address teen rebellion and prodigals. And we do want to spend a little time there.

We are talking about that. Those are tough issues for Christian parents particularly, because again, to a degree, it reflects upon us. Our children are part of us. So when our kids are not behaving the way good Christian kids should behave, we take it personally. We absolutely do. We think it's our fault. I remember with one of our kids at one point getting so discouraged that I felt like I couldn't even pray anymore. You know? Get to that point where you're just at the end where you think, I've said all the prayers I can pray.

Where do we even go from here? And I think if you're in that spot with your child, no matter how old they are, remember a couple of things. Remember, again, that God gets it. He's a parent. He knows exactly. Isaiah 1, I think it's verse 2, you know, where we see God's children walking away from him.

Right. He's the perfect parent. And all of – like Hosea 11, my favorite chapter of God as a parent, because it's like he's saying, I taught you to walk. I bent down to feed you. And you grew up and you walked away from me. And I'm angry, God says. And so I think we can look at these things and realize God gets it, he understands, but he never stops loving us. And he never stops pursuing us.

He never stops wooing us home. So for the parent who feels like their kid is walking away, I would say the old listen, you know, be available. They might not want to talk to you, but keep the dialogue open as much as it depends on you.

Love them. You know, be there for them. Don't close the door. And then pray. Listen, love and pray. Just keep bringing them to God.

Yeah. One of my favorite prayers along those lines is actually just the parable of what I call the forgiving father. Not the prodigal son, but the forgiving father who's got his eye out for that child. His eye and runs. And you know he's looking. He's constantly waiting for that child to come home.

We need to muggle that with some of our kids. And you know that father had a wife probably too who's doing the same thing. They don't talk about the mother of the prodigal son, but I know she's back there on her knees. I think the difficulty in that environment is how to maintain a relationship because you're so broken hearted.

They may have done some very egregious things and you know it's tough. And I'm thinking of a story Rob Parsons, our sister organization, Care for the Family in the UK, has a wonderful story about a mother and father who had a 15 year old daughter who ran away from home. And she ran away from home and never came back, at least in the short run. But every Christmas they would decorate a tree and leave the porch light on. Every night they left the porch light on for her. And this was the mother's idea of just sending the signal that we're thinking about you. And it wasn't until she was like 22, so seven years later, that she came back and she would tell her mom and dad that at Christmas particularly, she'd come and sit in her car, it gives me tears thinking about it, and see the porch light on.

Right, oh wow, wow. But she didn't have the courage or the ability to knock on the door. See, and that's like God's working when we don't always see it happening. But she came back.

She came back, she came back. And that's the hope. That's the hope. That's the hope and that's the promise, you know, God never stops wooing our children.

But in that regard, how do you keep the light on? Again, by trusting him, by praying, by knowing that he loves your child even more than you do. I think a lot of parents can make a mistake by thinking they've got to keep drilling it in. And all of our kids would look at it and go, I know what you think, mom, you know. I know you think me living with this guy is wrong.

I know you think my job isn't what you would have chosen. I know that whatever it is, they know what we think. So we don't need to be, as they get older, always telling them. We need to be loving them. We need to be, again, talking to God about them. We need to be speaking to the good things and we need to be keeping that porch light on. Yeah.

And listen. Yeah. So hard because we want to correct it, correct the behavior that we don't appreciate.

Yeah. And also just for the parent who feels like the cake is baked and it's not come out good or that they have said or done something to ruin their child, to ruin that relationship. I would just say, and it's been said by people much smarter than I am, you know, our power to ruin our kids is nothing compared to God's desire to redeem, to redeem them, to redeem us, to rebuild that relationship. And so I think we need to hold on to that hope, knowing that he's the God who can restore the years the locusts have eaten, Joel 2, and that he always wants to redeem and repair and rebuild. His heart is for families.

Boy, that's a beautiful place to be. I think the only other question then is the practicality of putting this into action, praying for your teens. What advice do you have to put this into play and then trust it? Well, my advice won't surprise you and that is to be faithful in prayer and things, whether you get the book or download the prayer calendar, just to get a couple of verses. And you don't have to pray the whole Bible.

You can pick three that you like. Ephesians 4, 32, praying that your child will be kind and compassionate to others, forgiving them just as they've been forgiven, you know, praying that they would trust in the Lord. Proverbs 3, 5, and 6, Lord, help my child trust you, acknowledge you, direct their paths. Those things, just find a couple of them that you can be praying on behalf of your child, bringing them before the Lord, because God says in Isaiah, his word is not going to return empty.

It always accomplishes the purposes for which descent. And I don't think we avail ourselves of the Bible as a tool nearly as much. We think it's something we read. It's actually something we pray. And when we pray, we tap into that power that releases God's provision. That's the practical. I so love that. And Jody, this is so good.

I mean, this is really practical stuff, not just for teens, but probably your 20-somethings too that you can apply to them. I will do it. And I think it's just a great thing, a great attitude to have before the Lord, the trust that you're conveying to him. Yes, not always easy, but he is faithful.

And he's ultimately the one in charge of that relationship, not us. And we've got to learn to let go but to stay on our knees. It's beautiful. Thank you so much for being with us. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Always a joy.

Yeah. And, you know, get a copy of this great resource. If you're in the perfect place and you don't need it, well, buy it for a friend or a family member.

I mean, if you're that good, maybe get on the broadcast with us. The point being, I think this is a resource everyone can use if you have children. And get in touch with us. We often say this. But for a gift of any amount, we'll send it to you as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. It helps put the dollars into action.

When you buy it from a for-profit company, that's just going to pay the shareholders. So get it from us and let those dollars work for the kingdom. And then, of course, we're trying to get a thousand additional monthly supporters.

So if you can be in that space with us, we would appreciate that. It really evens out the budget for us. That's how I support and Gene supports the ministry.

I know John and Dina the same. We do. It's just a great way to do it. So thank you for that consideration. And, again, this is one of those resources you really want to get. Get your copy of this book when you call us today, 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. Or donate and request the book online at our website.

We've got the link in the program description. And this reminder that on the website, we're going to be linking over to a very wonderful little calendar that Jody's put together. Thirty one days of prayer for your teens. This has a specific verse each day. You can print this off and post it or carry it with you in your Bible or in your backpack. It's a great reminder to pray this specific verse this day for your child, especially your teen.

Again, the link is in the notes. And speaking of prayer, coming up tomorrow, we're going to be hearing how an agnostic medical doctor discovered God's love through the witness of her patients. So he had this recovery that was totally against all probability. And in medicine, we say, oh, it was an outlier and we're just grateful that it happened, even if we don't understand it. But I couldn't ignore the fact that this had occurred in response to his wife's prayer. Thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. When things get tough, everything they share is practical and well practiced, and I can use it right away. Listen to Practice Makes Parent wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-20 05:06:29 / 2024-03-20 05:35:30 / 29

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