Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens: An Interview with Jodie Berndt
How can parents’ prayers be their greatest asset and source of wisdom in raising teenagers in today’s world; especially when teens are confronted with such daunting issues as pornography, addiction, self-harm, anxiety, rebellion, technology use, dealing with disappointment, and more? It’s never been tougher to be a teen—or the parent of one. How can the Bible be your source for prayers to powerfully influence your teen’s life?
Bible Gateway interviewed Jodie Berndt (@jodieberndt), author of Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens: Opening the Door for God’s Provision in Their Lives (Zondervan, 2020).
How is praying for teenagers different than praying for children?
Jodie Berndt: All of our children, whether they’re three years old or 30, have needs in common. Things like wisdom, good friendships, and safety and protection are blessings we want God to provide at every stage in their lives. But praying during the teenage years can come with a unique set of challenges. Not only are our teens facing new threats—things like the temptation of alcohol and drugs, easy access to pornography via their devices, destructive messaging in their movies and music, and social bullying at a time when what they want, more than anything, is simply to fit in—but we can feel powerless to help them. We don’t always know what to say (and they don’t always want to listen to us when we do). We might feel like our teens are out of our reach, even if they’re sitting across from us at the kitchen table.
The good news is that our teens are never out of God’s reach. He knows them even better than we do; he loves them even more than we do; and he invites us to partner with him in releasing his provision for their lives through our prayers.[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, How and Why to Pray the Scriptures for Your Children: An Interview with Jodie Berndt]
Please explain the meaning of the subtitle.
Jodie Berndt: I love everything about the book’s cover. The fishing pole is a nod to Christ’s Matthew 4:19 invitation to our teens to follow him and become “fishers of people.” The shoes remind me of Isaiah 52:7; even our teens’ feet can carry the good news that God reigns! And the vibrant red flowers speak to growth and flourishing, calling to mind Psalm 115:14: “May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children.”
Most of all, though, what I love is the open door, a visual representation of the book’s subtitle: Opening the Door for God’s Provision in their lives. In Matthew 7:7, Jesus says we should ask, seek, and knock—and that as we do, the door will be opened. Our prayers for our teens—our asking, seeking, and knocking on their behalf—open the door to God’s answers and blessing in their lives.
How should parents, who are praying for children now, prepare to pray for their eventual teenagers?
Jodie Berndt: To any parent who is praying for their children now: good job! The more we approach God’s throne of grace when our children are young, the more familiar the pathway will be when they get older. Sure, the issues our teens face might be more difficult, but when we look back on the track record of God’s faithfulness in our kids’ lives, we’ll be equipped to pray with hope and confident expectation for their future, knowing that (as Psalm 62:11 reminds us) God is powerful enough to supply all of their needs—and loving enough to want to do so! There’s no better preparation for the teen years than establishing a habit of talking to God about our children when they’re young.
Your book is divided into 5 areas of a teenager’s life: relationships, character, health and safety, victory over temptation, and “everything.” For each area, please provide at least one example from Scripture to demonstrate how parents can pray the Bible for that part of their teen’s life.
Jodie Berndt: Okay, here’s a quick “best of” collection (and if you want a set of printable Dashboard Prayer Cards with these verses on them, or a Monthly Prayer Calendar with 31 different short prayers like these we can pray, you’ll find all sorts of free resources to download at jodieberndt.com). Put your teen’s name in the blank to turn these verses into power-packed prayers:
Relationships: Surround _______ with friends who will encourage each other daily so that none of them will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13).
Character: Fill _______ with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding; may they please you in every way (Colossians 1:9-10).
Health/Safety: Keep _______ from all harm; watch over their coming and going, now and forevermore (Psalm 121:7-8).
Victory over Temptation: Help _______ stay on the path of purity by living according to your word (Psalm 119:9).
Everything: There’s no issue or concern that’s too small for God to care about or too big for him to handle. If I were parenting teenagers today, I think my “everything” prayers might be for their emotional health and well being, especially given the spike we’ve seen in teenage anxiety and depression during COVID. I love prayers based on verses like Philippians 4:6-7 (“Don’t let _______ be anxious about anything. Instead, prompt them to pray, with thanksgiving, and let your peace guard their hearts and minds”), and also Psalm 16:11 as a prayer for life and joy: “Make known to _______ the path of life; fill them with joy in your presence.
Sign up for our Verse of the Day to receive a daily Bible verse in four well-known translations.
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What is your goal in writing this book?
Jodie Berndt: I wrote this book because I needed it! Robbie and I had four kids in six years (which translated, I think, to four teens over 13 consecutive years), and during the time it took to write the book, we prayed our way through almost every topic readers will find in the pages. I even found myself wondering whether God—in that Godlike way of his—had allowed some specific challenges to manifest themselves in our family just to remove any lingering threads of self-sufficiency pride or judgmental attitudes I might have tried to hang on to had I not found myself in the parenting gutter so many times.
Case in point: As I was working on the chapter about praying for our teens’ attire and thinking about the importance of modesty, God reminded me of the time our daughter and two of her friends went to a rock concert dressed—unbeknownst to us—in skimpy shirts they had made themselves. Lest you think I should have been proud of a teen who could sew, I’ll just go ahead and tell you that the girls used staples, not thread. And the shimmery gold fabric they thought looked so fetching? They had ransacked it from a neighbor’s nativity set.
(Wrong, on so many levels.)[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Four Things to Remember When Praying for Your Prodigal]
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Jodie Berndt: As a parent, I love the promise of Philippians 2:13. That’s where Paul reminds us that it’s God who works in us (and in our teenagers!) to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. We might think it’s up to us to get our kids to desire and do good things—and certainly we can lay down the tracks through our parenting and our prayers to point them in the right direction—but at the end of the day, their hearts belong to the Lord. It’s his job, not ours, to draw them to himself and to do his powerful and transformative work in their lives. I can’t think of anything more freeing, or joy-producing, than embracing this truth as we navigate the teenage years!
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Jodie Berndt: Have you noticed how many verses I’ve included in this interview? I couldn’t LIVE without Bible Gateway. Back when I wrote the first Praying the Scriptures for Your Children more than 20 years ago, I didn’t know about Bible Gateway, and any time I’d remember a snippet of some verse I’d have to go adventuring through the pages of my Bible to find it. Not anymore! Now all we need to do is type in something like, say, the word “wisdom” and we get more than 200 of God’s great and precious promises at our fingertips. (True confession though? I still love the old fashioned hunting sometimes. I have the Thompson Chain Reference Bible that was released in 1983. Poking around in there, and following the chain references in the margins, is like a treasure hunt—one where you always discover more than you ever imagined was there!)
Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Jodie Berndt has written nine books, including the bestselling Praying the Scriptures series for children, teens, and adult children. A nationally known speaker and Bible teacher, Jodie has been featured on programs like Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, and a host of popular podcasts, and she has written for media outlets such as Fox News, Club31Women, and the Proverbs 31 Daily Devotional. Find Jodie’s blogs, videos, and printable prayer resources at jodieberndt.com or follow her on Instagram at @jodie_berndt. She and her husband, Robbie, have four adult children. They live in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
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April 22, 2021
April 22, 2021