In this step, you will be challenging your students to think about how they pray for God’s guidance—and the motivation behind it.
Studying Jesus’ attitude toward the future helps us navigate our own fears about the unknown. Let’s partner up and discuss some of the ways people tend to pray for God’s will.
Either assign partners or let students choose someone with whom they are comfortable sharing; hand out writing supplies. One at a time, read each “prayer” and tell students to discuss whether it shows a sound biblical approach to God’s will or whether it shows an unhealthy attitude toward God’s sovereignty.
Prayer #1: “Jesus, I am so thankful for the talent You’ve given me. Please give me a spot on the varsity team this year. If you do, I promise I’ll be a good example to my team members.”
Prayer #2: “Dear God, having a girlfriend is really important to me. I’m asking You to bring someone into my life this semester. I’ve been so patient for a long time, and I’ve been praying for six months now. Please, God, help me out!”
Prayer #3: “I know that You’ve been faithful to me in the past. Thank You for always sending encouragement my way, even in the hard times. You know my deepest desires for college, so wherever You send me, I will trust You.”
Prayer #4: “Jesus, I’m pretty scared about my future. Can you help me to be strong and faithful in the little things? I will work hard and do all that I can. I give the outcome to You in faith.”
When you finish, let each partnership write down an example of two prayers: one will be grounded in the character of God, and the other will show evidence of selfish motivation. Allow students to share their prayers with the entire class. Afterward, discuss these questions together:
- Do these selfish prayers sound familiar? How can we shift our attitudes toward a God-centered approach? (Answers will vary. Students might mention recognizing that God has a plan for them and they don’t know all of the details as He does or that acknowledging that “He is God and I am not” is a good and humble place to be.)
- How does God use wise and mature mentors to also shape our decisions? Who do you have in your life that can help you navigate the future? (Answers will vary; godly mentors who are experienced in listening to God and know how to seek His face during a time of decision making will be invaluable.)
- Does trusting in God mean we have no role in planning our lives? Explain the paradox of “act-yet-trust.” (At one extreme there is trusting in God to the exclusion of action [except prayer]. The other extreme is based on the “God helps those who help themselves” view—trusting in the sense that we have faith that God will bless our efforts. The “act-yet-trust” position is basically one-part listening, one part trusting, and one part taking action. Finding a college, for instance, might look this way in an “act-yet-trust” posture: pray about where to go, listen for God’s input on options, fill out the application forms, wait for His will, and don’t fret.)
- Why is it still important to pour out our fears and desires to Him? Can we be honest with God in all things?
Before you close your lesson, encourage your students to write down THREE ACTION STEPS that can help them refine their attitudes toward seeking the will of God:
- How can I pray?
- Who can mentor me?
- How can I be obedient in my life’s choices?
You have three specific questions that will help you trust in God’s ability to direct your future. Spend some time this week praying over these questions and writing down your answers. When you feel fear, revisit your answers and know that the character of God is stronger than the instability of your life.
To close: Students may want to share some of their fears with their partner before praying together for the outcome.