Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Pray.Network's Phil Miglioratti interviewed Tony Souder, author of "Pray for Me: A Prayer Champion's Guide to Essential Prayer for Children." and Brian Crowe of Awana: "Reach Kids, Equip Leaders. Change the World.'
Pray.Network ~ Tony, please introduce us to "Pray for Me: A Prayer Champion's Guide to Essential Prayer for Children."
Tony Souder ~
The birth of "Pray for Me" >
•Simply put, the Pray for Me Campaign was born out of our response to the reality that 40-50% of teens from good families and good youth groups are drifting from God and the church after they graduate. One of the primary factors for those young people who stay connected to the church and flourish in their faith is that they have multiple adult believers who are investing in their lives. Because of these realities we began relentlessly asking the question: How can we get more adults connected with more teenagers more naturally than ever before? The Pray for Me Campaign is our answer to that question.
The vision >
•The vision of the Pray for Me Campaign is for every child and teenager connected to the church to have a growing team of adults who are determined to see them flourish in faith and life by praying for them to know and treasure all of the greatness of God as seen in the beauty of Jesus Christ.
The book >
•The Prayer Guide is designed to help adults to pray Scripture over children and teens through the lens of 7 Essential Biblical categories. The Prayer Guide equips Prayer Champions to stay the course in praying about essential things that affect students’ relationships with God and how they are transformed into the image of Christ.
Pray.Network ~ Explain the reason for a multi-generational strategy.
Tony ~ The Pray for Me Campaign has at its core a desire to build healthy relationships between children and youth with every generation in the church. The principle is the same for both children’s and youth ministries but the application is a little different. In youth ministry, students are equipped to invite three adults from three different generations to be their Prayer Champions for a school year. In children’s ministry, families with children in fifth grade and below invite three adults from three different generations to be Prayer Champions for their children.
The reason for our multi-generational approach is fairly simple and straightforward. We believe there is sweetness to following Jesus at every age and stage of life and we wanted to create a natural way for children and youth to experience this first hand by having Prayer Champions from every adult generation.
Pray.Network ~ What are "The 7 Essentials" and why are they critical guides to those who commit to pray?
Tony ~ The 7 Essentials are Biblical aspects of life that are crucial to anyone to engage with for their growth as a follower of Christ. In the Prayer Guide they are critical areas of focus in helping a young person flourish in faith and life. The first two, wisdom and favor, come from Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” If it was essential for God’s Son to grow in wisdom in favor, then there is no question that these two are essential for the next generation. The other five are from 1 Timothy 4:12: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Here Paul is giving Timothy the essential categories that he needs to pay attention to in order to set an appropriate example for all believers. These categories remain essential for us today.
One way to look at the 7 Essentials is to see that favor is the foundation for all the other Essentials. Favor is what God does in, through and for us every day. There is no aspect of our lives that is not touched or sustained by gracious favor of God. The next four Essentials are what I call the Core Four. These are the qualities God is forming inside of us by his gracious favor and they are wisdom, love, faith and purity. The last two Essentials are what I call the public relations pair or the PR pair for short, because it is through our speech and conduct that we go public with what is on the inside of us. Of course we can fake who we are in our speech and conduct but it is only a matter of time before what is really inside comes out.
Pray.Network ~ Brian, explain your ministry role and how you have incorporated Pray for Me.
Brian Crowe ~ About 3 years ago, my wife and I became prayer champions for 3 youth at our home church. We were only a few days into praying for the youth at our church when we realized that we need to be praying these awesome prayers for our grandchildren who live 300 miles from us in North Carolina. As we progressed though the prayer guide, God was doing a work in our hearts as well. I found out the Tony lives in Chattanooga, Tn., which is only 20 minutes away, so I called him and we had breakfast together and since that time have become best of friends. On many pastor and church visits I talk to them about Pray For Me and what it means to me personally.
Pray.Network ~ How can Pray for Me be adopted into a congregation or children's ministry?
Tony (congregation) ~
The Pray for Me Campaign is an excellent tool for connecting the generations in your church, praying essential things for the next generation, and equipping adults as Prayer Champions. It can be adopted into a church congregation via youth ministry, children’s ministry, or both. Churches host a Pray for Me Campaign launch event where students and families of children in fifth grade and below invite three adults from three generations to be their Prayer Champions for a school year. Prayer Champions pray using the Prayer Guide, and this cycle is repeated each school year. This gives students a vast web of intergenerational relationships that root them in the church and help them flourish in faith and life.
Brian (children's ministry) ~
I see so much potential. To have the adults praying the 7 Essentials for the Awana kids, Sunday School etc would be life changing for the Prayer Champions, parents and children.
In my wife’s Sparks group, we had Awana Leaders praying the 7 Essentials for the children that were in their Awana Sparks group.
I did a workshop in South Carolina on Pray for Me and at the end of the class, a Pastor said “This gives me hope for my church I did not have”
In one church, I saw over 25 groups of parents and their children surrounded by their Prayer Champion praying of them.
Pray.Network ~ Any additional comments?
Tony ~ Everything that is needed to launch the Pray for Me Campaign is on our website www.prayformecampaign.com
Brian ~ The Pray for Me Campaign can be easily adapted to be used for Awana and other children's ministries.
Pray.Network ~ Tony and Brian, please write a prayer leaders can pray with you toward the mobilizing the people of God to pray for the children in our congregations and ministries.
Tony & Brian >
•Father, you are great and glorious in all you are and do. Thank you for your love for children and your desire for them to be free to come and be blessed and embraced by you. I pray that you would raise up adults in churches everywhere who are stirred with a relentless passion to help the little ones in their midst to see and savor the sweetness of knowing Jesus personally. Cause each of us as your followers to be moved with compassion and to become tenacious in how we pray and work on behalf of the children and youth in our world. Create in us a courage that empowers us to overcome the obstacles to praying fervently and deeply for this generation of children and youth. May you unleash a tsunami of supplication through your people for this generation so that they would love, treasure and adore Jesus above all else. For your glory! In Jesus’ name, amen.