If I was at all intimidated by writing about how to have effective family devotions, I am certainly much more intimidated by writing about how to help your teen have a quiet time!
I don’t have teenagers.
Its been years since I’ve been a teenager.
But as I’ve pondered, prayed and prepared for this post, I have been reminded of my own teen years, and I think the central needs of teens don’t ever really change.
I will say this, though, if I were a parent of a teen poking around the web to find resources to help my teen develop a quiet time, I’d be very frustrated right now.
There are not many resources (by people I know and trust, that I feel like I can recommend to my readers) or even articles on the subject.
I came up empty.
And now I know why so many moms have written to me with desperate cries for help!
In the end I concluded that maybe it is better this way. Maybe it is better that parents and teens use the same resources and learn side-by-side, because at the end of the day, our teens will learn better when we model for them how to have a consistent and effective quiet time.
4 Ways to Help Your Teen Have a Quiet Time
1. Be real. If there is anything I’ve witnessed about this generation, it’s that they are done being sold to. They can smell an advertisement in a New York minute.
They don’t want their quiet times to be “cool” with geometric shapes and neon colors, they just want it to be real. If your teen truly has an encounter with Jesus Christ, you wont need to nag them to have a quiet time because they will have taken a bite out of filet mignon, and you wont have to convince them to eat that cheap, microwave dinner some advertiser wants to sell them in the way of a “cool teen devotional” that only talks about locker rooms, hormones and the opposite sex.
Because real life for them goes beyond what our generation watched on Saved by the Bell. Teens today are faced with a level of fear and pressure that our generation never had to face. Short, one-page devotional nicely packaged in succinct words and alliterations wont come close to meeting their needs. They want the hard truth, uncensored and unabridged because that’s what they face everyday—a world that is hard, uncensored, R-rated and unabridged.
How will they cope with what they are faced with on a daily basis in public school if they are fed a pablum gospel?
2. Model it for them. I know it seems like your teen thinks you’re a Neanderthal. The real truth that they wouldn’t ever dare utter to another living soul is that they really do want to be like you and they’re watching you out of the corner of their eye.
I once heard someone say, “What parents do in moderation their children will do in excess.” I know he was talking about alcohol on that occasion, but the same is true about our daily, personal relationship with Almighty God.
I remember as a child waking up on occasion very early in the morning, or sometimes even in the middle of the night, and seeing my dad in the living room with his head buried deep in his brown easy chair weeping and praying. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’d see him like that every morning and, more often than not, in the middle of the night. His relationship with God was front and center, No. 1. His quiet time happened on Saturdays, during vacations—he never took a break from it.
That consistency played a huge role in my life as a teen, because I knew that when myprayers were bouncing off the brass ceiling of heaven, his were somehow reaching God.
Maybe that wasn’t theologically correct, but as a teen, it gave me the encouragement I needed to keep trying.
My mom was just as consistent. Before she came out of her bedroom, she had been awake for a couple of hours, having spent time in God’s Word and prayer. Their consistency in quiet time spoke to me loud and clear that devotions were an essential part of daily life. I haven’t always been consistent with them like they are, but in those inconsistent times, I felt a weight of conviction because I knew I needed to be.
How did I know that? It wasn’t because my youth group leader told me, but because it was modeled for me Monday-Sunday without fail.