Holy One, we recall the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Joseph was a teenager who was bullied, beaten, thrown into a pit, and sold into slavery. He knew what it was like to be knocked down by everyone in his world. And, thankfully, life got much better for him. So we pray that life does, indeed, get better for every young person who faces difficulty, harassment, or violence.
May life get better for the young people in special education. The young people who are intimidated and recruited by gangs. The young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered. The young people with disabilities or mental illness. The young people who are pregnant – and have to think about adoption, abortion, and other decisions that are way too heavy for someone so young – yet they have to make these decisions even as they feel ostracized.
Dear God, we pray for all of the young people in our neighborhood, country, and world. And we pray that life does get better for them, no matter what they face. Being a teenager is hard enough without all the extra “stuff.” The tough stuff. So, we pray that life gets better for all of them.
But don’t let this prayer simply be an empty platitude to make us feel better on a Sunday morning. Things don’t always easily get better. Sometimes these teens are given more than they can handle by the world. And they need our help. So, we pray for you to help us, to help them.
Help us to build a world that is more inclusive of and accessible for young people who need special education. For some of us, this is easy. For others, it’s not. When we don’t know what to say or do, inspire us with words and actions that can help bring smiles and remove stigma. In everything we do, may we empower and love them like every other child.
Help us to provide a sense of community, belonging, and safety for young people, so they aren’t intimidated by or recruited into gangs. This will take creativity in our community, as we witness an upsurge in gang activity – especially on the SE side of Iowa City. So, we pray to you, Creative Creator, to help us find a way to make our streets safer and children happier. And may places like “The Spot” offer secure and fun alternatives for them.
Help us to overcome the religious stigma against LGBT youth. Prejudice in the name of Christianity is a strong force in our world. So we, as Christians, have a special role in overturning this discrimination in the church and wider society. Give us the wisdom to listen to, stand beside, and support LGBT communities. And give us the courage to be a public witness to your love for each and every one of your perfectly designed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered children.
Help us to offer a welcoming and safe place for youth with disabilities and mental illness. Not to feel sorry for them, or to treat them like helpless children, but to empower them to achieve their greatest potential despite their difficulties. May these young people, like all young people, know they are loved and created by you – and will be loved and cared for by us.
Help us to offer empathic ears and welcoming arms to pregnant teenagers. May we support them during their difficult decisions, and help them to find organizations like United Action for Youth, Faith Aloud, and Avoid the Stork. Plus, Holy God, may our schools offer our youth comprehensive sex education so that they can be empowered to make judicious decisions with the best information available. In the end, we pray for a dramatic drop in teen pregnancy – an end of teen pregnancy – so that every family can be started at a time that makes sense for them.
Holy God, may all the young people who face difficulties, like Joseph, find that life truly does get better. For every single one of them. No more prejudice. No more bullying. No more beatings. No more suicide. Just better. Every day. Because of you. And because of us. And because it’s the right thing to do for kids. May there be more fun. More smiles. More inclusivity. And more empowerment.
Like Joseph and his family, help to make life better for all of us, Gracious God. Amen.
This prayer was inspired by the It Gets Better Project.