Prayer Squared: What Can Help Me Pray?

The goal of this night is for the middle school youth to be equipped with different tools and guides that can aid in their growing prayer life. The approach of this night is to build off what has already been learned, the youth know what prayer is, where to pray, how to start prayer, what to pray about, and now they will be given specific prayers and things to do that can help them when they are actually praying to further their relationship with Christ.

Using a “math formula” theme, this Edge Night will explore the importance of prayer and what can help in the middle school youth’s prayer life. The night will begin with a riddle challenge. After a teaching on aids to help with prayer, the youth will have an opportunity hear a Core Member share about his or her own prayer life. The Send gives the youth an opportunity to enter into a specific type of prayer and make a commitment to daily prayer in their lives.

Prepare materials for the opening activity (riddles), get prizes ready, print mathematical formulas, and find outfits for the Core Team. Assign a Core Member to give the prayer testimony and have them share it with the Core Team before he or she presents it for the youth.

Without Ceasing: Is Prayer Really That Important?

The goal of this Edge Night is to help the youth understand that prayer is a vital part of the Christian life and that in praying without ceasing, we can constantly seek God’s will for our lives and share His love and goodness with others.

As we wrap up this semester on prayer, we have a valuable opportunity to encourage our young people and remind them of the importance of an active prayer life.  In Gadium et Spes, Pope Paul VI explains, “The root reason for human dignity lies in man’s call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God.  For man would not exist were he not created by God’s love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator” (19).  Each of us is created for communion with God. We rely upon the nourishing and life changing love of God to guide us through life, teach us how to live, and become more fully who He has created us to be.  In sharing this with our young people, we need to give them concrete and attainable ways to integrate prayer into their life every day and in every circumstance.

The session begins with a fun and challenging interactive game to get the youth thinking about the importance of communication.  The teaching encourages the youth to live their whole life as a prayer.  Looking at the example of Mary’s life, the youth are challenged to attune their hearts to the Lord and seek His will for their lives.  The Break opens up some discussion about the ways we pray and the goals we have for continually improving our prayer life.  Then each youth will have the opportunity to make a prayer plaque to bring home as a reminder of the necessity of prayer.  The Send will continue a time of praise and worship and a decade of the Rosary.

Before the Edge Night

Have all the blindfolds and rope cut and ready for the opening game.  Purchase small wooden plaques and paint pens or permanent markers from a craft supply store. Invite your music minister to lead praise and worship at the end of the night.

The Time Is Now: When Do I Pray?

The goal of this Edge Night is for the youth to continue to grow in their prayer life and to come to a greater understanding of when to pray. The goal is to help them come to have a structured and consistent prayer life so that they can begin, or continue, to foster a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The night begins with some fun time-based games, and then it moves into a teaching on different times to pray. The intention is to show the youth that they should make prayer a part of their everyday life. It is important to go to Adoration and Mass, but there are so many other times of the day to pray also. After the Proclaim, there will be a short video followed by a small group discussion. The Edge Night will end in silent prayer in the church with an encouragement for the youth to pick one time each day to start praying and to stick to it.

Get the grocery bag of random clothing items ready for the Crazy Hot Potato game during the Gather; ask for clothing donations or go to your local thrift or dollar store to get items.

Father vs. Genie: Does God Really Hear Me When I Pray?

The goal of this Edge Night is for the middle school youth to come to a greater understanding of how God hears every prayer. Although it may seem like prayers go unanswered, God answers every prayer according to His will.  The youth will come to understand the importance of prayer, which draws us closer to God and His will.

This Edge Night will focus on the tough question of unanswered prayers. Silence is a stunning blessing, but it can also lead anyone — especially young people — to think God does not hear him or her. This night will help the youth understand that God hears our every prayer, and He answers each of them in His own time. Aside from this, we must always discern whether our petitions are selfish desires or if we authentically pray “Thy will be done”.  The night begins with a gathering skit involving a Wish Store. Immediately following the skit there is a small group activity. The Proclaim focuses on the need to pray, God’s desire to give us peace, joy, and love through our prayers, and the challenge to see God more as a Father who gives us what we need according to His will versus an on-demand genie who is granting our every wish. In small groups, the middle school youth will discuss the talk and compose prayers showing openness to God’s will in answering their prayers. Groups will present their prayers as part of the Send during closing prayer.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Pray!: How Do I Start Prayer?

The goal for the night is for the youth to understand the importance of starting to pray and truly entering into a personal relationship with Christ. The middle school youth will be given practical tips on how to start praying and also come to understand why Catholics make the sign of the cross every time they begin their prayers.  Youth will be encouraged to put aside any fear or laziness that might be holding them back from beginning, or continuing, their relationship with Christ.

The theme of this Edge Night is a race–the idea that in order to win a race or to make it to the end, you have to start. The main Scripture for the night is from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about running the race so as to win (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

The Edge Night will begin with a series of relay races and then transition into the main teaching for the night. During the Break, there will be a time of small group discussion and an opportunity for the youth to make a commitment to start praying regularly. The night will end with a time of prayer as a large group,

Make sure to printout the “Starting to Pray” cards (Handout on page 28) so that there is one for every youth.

Conversation With Christ: What Do I Pray About?

The goal of the night is to reveal to the youth that we can pray about absolutely anything. Because prayer has to do with fostering a relationship with Christ rather than an obligation, the youth will come to see the importance of being present and authentic when they pray.

The main idea of the night is to emphasis the fact that prayer is a relationship and that the youth should talk to Christ in prayer as they would talk to a friend. The night will begin with a fun and noisy game. Then, the night will progress to the Proclaim where the youth will be encouraged to be authentic in prayer and to talk to Christ about anything. They will have time in small groups to discuss the different conversations they have in their lives, and how they can start to have more of a conversation with Jesus Christ in their prayer. The youth will also have some time to pray and talk with Christ. The night will end with a fun activity where the youth will get to have conversations with other youth they may not already know and continue to build community and new friendships.

Make all necessary preparations for the environment. Have four Core Members volunteer to be the squad leader for the Gather game. Give each Core Member a slip of paper and have them write down their cell phone number. Make sure that the Core Member’s cell phone is off silent when they are playing the Gather game.

Sacred Places: Where Do I Pray?

The goal of this Edge Night is to provide the middle school youth with a clear understanding of the importance of praying both in community and as individuals. They will also learn where they can go to spend time in prayer.

This Edge Night will help the youth to understand the importance of sacred spaces and how they help us to be able to pray anywhere. The Gather begins with a fun welcome and introduction from the youth minister, as though everyone is getting a tour of the youth minister’s house. The Proclaim discusses the importance of prayer in community and as individuals, and how our prayer is enhanced by specific places designated for prayer. The Break allows time for the youth to brainstorm all of the places they can pray and look at the places they use for prayer now. During the Send, the youth will be challenged to create a prayer space somewhere in their house, and each youth will be given an item to place in it.

Contact parents or parishioners to see if there are items that you can borrow for the environment. If your budget is low, ask Core Members to each bring one item from home that can help transform the main meeting room into a middle school youth’s room.

Well of Life: What is Prayer?

The goal of this night is to help the youth understand that prayer is a personal and living relationship with Christ, and to help the youth begin to understand the importance of this relationship with their Savior.

God has given us a great gift – the gift of prayer. These are not simply words to say to God, but an experience to share with Him. God has an unquenchable thirst for us that will not be satisfied until we are with Him in paradise. Prayer is the beautiful opportunity for us to encounter God’s thirst for us as we thirst for Him. Christ calls each of us to have a relationship with Him, which can only develop by coming frequently to Him in prayer.

This Edge Night’s theme is from the story of the women at the well found in the Gospel of John. The night will begin with a water relay race using broken cups, which are supposed to be like the broken cisterns that we bring to God to fill. The Proclaim is focused on how prayer is a gift, is from the heart, and is meant to be used to develop a relationship with the living God. After the Proclaim, there will be time for small group discussion, and then everyone will gather back together to do a meditation on the Our Father. The meditation will lead right into the closing prayer, which focuses on coming humbly to God and asking Him for His divine assistance.

@PRAYTOGOD: What is prayer?

The goal of this Edge Night is to invite the youth into a relationship with God through prayer and to help the youth to understand what prayer is and that it is the foundation of our lives as Christians. This night will focus on Jesus as our model of prayer and reflect on His example to help us to pray.

This night begins our semester on prayer and will lay the groundwork for exploring all the different types of prayer. Before we can get into all the forms of prayer, we need to understand what prayer is. Prayer is the raising of our hearts and minds to God and requesting good things from Him. Prayer is an encounter with God and the beginning of a covenant relationship with Him. We are constantly searching for something; St. Augustine puts it beautifully when he says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” Prayer is our opportunity to rest in God.

The night will begin with a “play” on the idea of Twitter, making the connection that God is constantly trying to communicate with us. In the icebreaker, each small group will come up with a creative Twitter username and come up with some creative and funny “tweets” that have to do with God, prayer, and sharing it with others. After this icebreaker, there will be a comical skit that shows God sending out “tweets” to us. The skit will transition into the Proclaim, which will cover the basic points of prayer. After the talk, there will be a witness and then a time to reflect in small groups. Within small groups there will be two additional activities: a Scripture search and a time for each small group to write their own prayer to share with the large group. After each small group has completed the activities, the night will move into a time of prayer where each teen will be given an invitation to deepen his/her prayer life. If possible, have the closing prayer in the church.

Before The Night
There are some good videos to illustrate the points of the night on prayer. One video on www.skitguys.com is called “The Way We Pray.” It would be fun for your Core Team to re-create a similar video using characters that your middle school youth would know. For instance, in the video, they reference the Napoleon Dynamite movie (a dated reference from 2005). Find more up-to-date characters and then show the video during the Edge Night.

Magnify: Praying the Hail Mary

The goal of this Edge Night is to introduce Mary, the mother of Christ as the Mother of God, as well as show how she points us to Christ. The youth will also learn about prayer to Mary as an intercessor.

Tonight we are talking about Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ – the Mother of God. In another Edge Night we discuss Mary’s Fiat or “Yes” to God’s plan. In this Edge Night we are discussing Mary’s role as mother and then looking at the Hail Mary. It is important for the youth to see that this prayer is based in Scripture. For some Christians, they struggle to understand Mary and her role. However through our examination of Mary’s role in Jesus’ life, we come to understand her importance and our need to have her as our mother as well. Mary is the best example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We can trust that she will always lead us closer to her Son.

The night begins with the normal introduction and welcoming by the youth minister – and then the middle school youth go directly to their small groups where they will have a project with markers and poster board together. Upon returning and presenting their small group creation, the Proclaim portion of the night will be given – which will have two main parts – how Mary points us to Christ, and why we pray to Mary. In small groups the students will break this topic open a bit more and discuss how Mary can be a part of their lives today. Finally, the Send will involve praying a decade of the rosary together along with ending with the Hail Holy Queen. Ideally the middle school youth should be given a copy of the Hail Mary and the Hail Holy Queen – possibly a homemade card with a prayer on each side.

Before The Night
During small group, the youth will be making a rosary that they can take with them. You will want to pre-cut the rope you are using for small group. This will ensure that you have enough rope for each youth and the rope is the correct size. Also, beads for their rosary can be purchased at any craft store. You will need approximately 60 beads per youth. If possible encourage the youth to use different colors or a different size for the bead representing the mystery. You will also want to buy crucifixes that the youth can add to the rosary.

Red Carpet: Prayer of Adoration

The goal of this Edge Night is to introduce the youth to a form of prayer called adoration. The night will explore what it means to adore God for who He is and to have a time of actual Eucharistic Adoration.

As Catholics, when we hear “adoration,” we may automatically think about Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This is a beautiful form of prayer, but we may skip over other forms of adoration. Think about something that you adore: a child, a family member, etc. Adoration is a great love and respect for that thing or that person. Tonight will help the youth to understand how to adore God as we are commanded to do so – as the one true God. From this, a time of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will help them to be eye to eye with God and see Him as the one truly deserving of their love. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a specific time when Catholic can worship the Lord in the Eucharist outside of Mass. When we adore the Lord, we offer God the praise and honor that He deserves. In return, we are often given grace, strength, hope, and love that we need to walk through our lives.

This night will begin with a red carpet ceremony before an awards show. The room will be set up with a red carpet with “photographers and interviewers” interviewing the youth as they walk the red carpet. The opening game will be a fun way to involve all the youth and focus them on the theme of the night. They will be “dressing the guests” with newspaper, toilet paper, and clothes pins. Awards will be given to the best and worst dressed. The Proclaim will be the opportunity to help the youth understand what it means to adore Christ. During small groups, the youth will be given a time to discuss in small group and journal on the discussion questions. Invite the youth to bring their journal before the Lord. This is a beautiful time to pray and put into action the topic of the night.

The Deep End: Prayer of Praise

The goal of this Edge Night is to explore the prayer of praise and to help the youth see the importance of directing our lives to praising God through our heart and our actions.

This night will be an invitation to “dive into the deep” through the prayer of praise. Praise is a way of praying that acknowledges God is God and we are God’s children. Praise is our appropriate response to God’s gracious blessings in our lives. Praise is unlike any other form of prayer because there are no written words to follow; praise gives each person the freedom to love God in the way they desire. Praise is just one of the many beautiful forms of prayer that the Church gives us. It is a powerful form of prayer that allows us to completely focus on the Lord’s goodness. Praise is the only appropriate response to the blessings that God has given us. The prayer of praise is simply a beautiful exchange between the Almighty God and His children. During this night, not only will we dive into the topic of praise, but we will also have an opportunity to actually praise together as a community!

This night will be set up with a swimming pool theme, and it will begin with some classic pool games such as “Marco Polo” and “Sharks and Minnows.” The whole group will be involved in the games. From the icebreakers, the night will transition into the Proclaim teaching on the prayer of praise. During small groups, the youth will have a discussion about praise and then brainstorm as many characteristics about God that they can think. Following small groups, the large group will gather again for the Send portion of the night. Not only will the youth learn about praise, but this is also the time that they will be given to actually praise in a community. This time of praise and worship will be led with music and will allow each person to express their love of God in their individual ways.

Before The Night
If you have a musician available, take some time to pray and prepare for an extended time of worship during the Edge Night. If this is the youth’s first experience with praise and worship, be sure to give a time of instruction and have the musician guide the youth during the time of praise.

If there is no musician available to lead a time of praise and worship, then plan to have a CD or an mp3 player to play praise music.

Daily Decision: Prayer Life 101

The goal of this Edge Night is to show that prayer is not a one-time decision, just for special occasions, or only when we are in trouble. Prayer is a way of life that takes time and dedication, and it is not always easy or glamorous.

Having prayer be a real part of our life is a daily decision we make, much like being a good student or being a good athlete. It takes a lot of work that is not always glamorous. We are called by St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing,” but what does this really mean in our lives? First, we actually need to pray daily. Second, we need to let that prayer flow through the rest of our day – how we go about our play and work and how we interact with others, especially our families and friends.

The night will begin with Catholic calisthenics. It is easy for junior high students to relate to sports being a part of their daily lives, so this will be where we begin the illustration. The Proclaim continues the “training” theme and includes a “panel of experts” including a musician, a scientist, and an athlete who talk about how their specific field requires a daily commitment. The second part of the Proclaim will build upon this. In the small groups, the idea of prayer as communication will be focused upon, before we close with a prayer and a blessing by the Core Team for the middle school youth to be people of prayer.

Lord Help Me: Prayer of Petition

The goal of this Edge Night is to introduce prayers of petition to the middle school youth. This night will give the youth an opportunity to spend some quiet time in prayer and teach them how to keep a prayerful heart throughout day.

The topic of this night is Prayer of Petition. When we ask God for something, we are connecting with Him on a very personal level. Petition is a form of prayer where we state or needs and ask for God’s help. We ask for those things we need spiritually (grace, forgiveness) and physically (healing in sickness, food when hungry). An important aspect of petitioning the Lord for our needs is being open to His will in our lives. God desires to give us good things, but we must trust that God knows what is best for us. There will also be a chance to discuss our Catholic belief in the saints and how they intercede for us.

The night will begin by having the youth play an icebreaker. The three characters used in the icebreaker will represent how we sometimes approach God in our prayers of petition. The Proclaim will process the icebreaker as well as break open the theme of the night on prayers of petition. At the end of the Proclaim, the youth will be given the opportunity to approach the front of the room and choose an item brought by the Core Team (see “Before The Night”). Once they have chosen an item, they will simply hold on to it and take it with them to their small groups. During small groups, the youth will discuss the main points of the Proclaim. They will answer some questions about the night and use the items they chose at the beginning of the night as part of their prayer in small groups. The closing prayer will give the youth the opportunity to present their prayers to God.

Before the Night
Each Core Member should bring five to ten items they use on a daily basis. For example:  a watch, brush, pen, safety pin, keys, gum, a book, tissue, etc. Make sure to have one item available for each youth at the Edge Night. The youth minister can bring items in from his/her office if more items are needed.

Thanks be to God: Prayer of Thanksgiving

The goal of this Edge Night is to help middle school youth grow in relationship with Christ through prayers of thanksgiving. This night will give the middle school youth an opportunity to share what they are thankful for.

The topic of this night is the prayer of thanksgiving. When we give thanks to God, we remember that we have been created in His image and that He is our Creator. Through these prayers, we grow in our awareness that everything we have been given comes to us as a gift from God’s unconditional love for us. In Scripture, we are instructed to give thanks to God for everything and at all times. The way that we can give glory to God through our joys and sorrows is through our prayers of thanksgiving. Giving thanks to God also helps us to understand that God has a plan for our lives and He will never leave or forsake us.

The night will begin with a fun game of “Simon Says: Giving Thanks Edition.” Encourage everyone to participate. Have a fun prize available to give to the winner(s). The night will transition into the teaching on the prayer of thanksgiving. During small groups, the youth will discuss the main points of the Proclaim and they will fill out Lord, I Give You Thanks (Handout A on page 23). This will allow the youth to express what they are thankful for in their lives. The closing prayer will give the youth the opportunity to voice one of things for which they are thankful.

Before The Night
Purchase small nails for each middle school youth who will be attending the Edge Night; these will be used in the closing prayer.

Hallowed: Praying the Lord’s Prayer

The goal of this Edge Night is to examine the Our Father and see where it comes from and for the youth to understand the meaning of the words we pray each time we say it.

The Our Father is the perfect prayer given to us directly by Christ. The disciples asked Jesus, “Teach us how to pray,” and thus Jesus gave us the words. In the Gospel of Matthew, prior to giving us the words of the Our Father, Jesus also discusses the posture of our heart in prayer. Read and pray through Matthew 6:5-8 and reflect on what Jesus is saying concerning prayer. Although most of us have memorized the Our Father, we can often forget the deeper meaning of the words we are saying. This night is designed to help the Core Team and the youth examine the words more closely so as to allow the words to become a prayer. The Our Father gives us the way in which we should approach God in our prayer. We begin by acknowledging Him as Father and that He is holy (hallowed). As we pray, we acknowledge that we desire for God’s will be done and then ask Him for those things we need. Hardest of all, we ask the Lord to help us love our enemies and those who have hurt us. Finally, we complete our prayer by asking God to help us when we are tempted.

The night will begin with a skit of someone praying the Our Father in an all-too-familiar fashion. He will be interrupted by God, and the remainder of the prayer is a conversation between God and the person praying. God teaches the person about the Our Father and challenges the person praying to fulfill the promises. The Proclaim explains more components of the Our Father and challenges the youth to pray the prayer and not simply say it. In small groups the youth will re-write the Our Father prayer into words that they might normally use on an everyday basis. The night will close with a challenge and an invitation to look deeper at what we pray in the Our Father.

Which Hand?

This game is all about determining whose hand has a fun toy inside of it. Guess which hand by yelling out a number, and then watch to figure out if you’re right!

I Confess

This is one of our most popular videos on Confession. This video is about a teen that hasn’t been to Reconciliation in a while that has the courage go. After receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he recognizes that it was easier than he thought it would be.