When our son Robbie was six or seven years old, I tiptoed into his room late one night to give him a kiss. I was surprised to find him awake—and concerned when I realized that he was crying.
“What is it?” I asked, feeling his forehead to see if he had a fever. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s just so sad to think about you having to eat lunch all alone every day at school,” he said. “I feel so sorry for you.”
I couldn’t believe it. Sometime earlier—I couldn’t even remember when—I’d told my kids about my experience in middle school. To say I was not one of the popular kids would be putting it gently; truth be told, my only real friend had moved away the summer before, and I spent much of my eighth-grade year scanning the hallways for someone—anyone—who would meet my eyes and return my hopeful greeting. I didn’t get many takers and, when lunchtime came, I worked my way through the line and tried to find a spot where I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way.
There were plenty of days when I ate lunch alone.
I’m not sure if there’s any connection, but I also carried a big brown leather purse engraved with the words “Jesus is Lord.” All the cool girls had brown leather purses, and I had begged my parents to get me one too. How was I supposed to know that they got a discount at the Christian bookstore? The other girls’ purses were small and delicate—but they could afford to be, since they didn’t bear any messages or engravings, other than a few exquisitely engraved flowers.
(Another unique feature of my bag was that it came with an imposing padlock—apparently, I guess, to discourage those who didn’t fully believe that Jesus is Lord from stealing my stuff.)
What happens when parents pray
Looking back, I can’t believe I carried that purse every day, but I did. Somewhere along the way, I had memorized Mark 8:38, the verse where Jesus says, “If anyone is ashamed of me…the Son of man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory,” and I guess I wasn’t taking any chances.
I suppose my life might have gone on like that forever—longing for a friendly face in the hallways and trying to blend in with the cafeteria tables at lunch—except that my parents were praying.
My parents asked God to send me a Christian friend, someone who (as Proverbs 27:17 puts it) would “sharpen me” the way that iron sharpens iron.
That was a great prayer, but God had bigger plans. Unbeknownst to my folks, on the very day they started praying, one of churches in our town began planning an evangelistic event that wound up transforming our community—teens included. Suddenly there were a whole slew of kids who wanted to get to know Jesus and who—miracle of miracles!—wanted to eat lunch with me.
Using the Bible to shape our prayers for our teens
Friends are the greatest influence on our teens today, and a kid’s desire to be accepted—to belong to a “group”—will inform their choices more than anything else, for better or for worse. “Walk with the wise and become wise,” Scripture says, “associate with fools and get into trouble.”
So how can we help our teens find a group of “wise” friends?
We can lean into Scripture, believing God’s Isaiah 55:11 promise when he says that his word accomplishes his desires and achieves his good purposes.
We can do like my parents did and ask God to provide friends who will sharpen our teens and bring out the best in their character. (Proverbs 27:17)
We can pay attention to our kids’ social lives and pray that God will surround them with a hedge of protection that no destructive influence can penetrate. (Job 1:10)
And, more than anything else, we can point them toward friendship with Jesus, the God who calls them his friends and who daily equips them to be strong and courageous, knowing that they will never have to do life alone. (John 15:15, Deuteronomy 31:6)
Praying for your teens’ friendships is just one of the topics covered on this set of printable “Dashboard Prayers”—perfect to keep in your car or give to your teens to let them know you are praying the next time they ask to borrow the keys! Get immediate access to the prayer cards, along with monthly prayer calendars and a collection of other free resources, at jodieberndt.com.
Jodie Berndt has written or co-authored many books, including the bestselling Praying the Scriptures series for Children, Teens, and Adult Children. A speaker and Bible teacher, Jodie has been featured on Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, and a host of popular podcasts. She’s a regular contributor with Club31Women, and she has written for Fox News, Ann Voskamp, and Proverbs 31 Ministries. Jodie and her husband, Robbie, have four adult children and live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Find Jodie’s blogs, videos, and printable prayer resources at jodieberndt.com or follow her on Instagram at @jodie_berndt.