Teens really want to be in God’s Word—but most of them don’t know that yet! Having a daily quiet time can be exciting as a time of growth in our walk with the Lord and as sweet fellowship with our Savior; yet, it is a discipline that is learned and developed. So, how do we introduce this daily habit to our young people?
1. Make sure we are doing it ourselves
Yes, you and me! During my first two years as a youth leader, I “did not have time” to read God’s Word daily and to write my observations in the Quiet Time Daily Devotional provided by Word of Life. It is interesting that in those first two years of teaching, when “everybody” should have been doing quiet time, only one of our teens had a consistent quiet time. During the third year, I realized that I was a great sponsor (I was at all the meetings and events for the teens), but I was a terrible leader in the spiritual disciplines of a godly person. I made a commitment to God to be faithful in His Word by having a quiet time. I shared my commitment with the teens and offered for them to check up on me during the year. We went from one girl doing quiet time to 100 percent of the guys and 80 percent of the girls doing quiet time consistently. Leadership counts; leadership by example counts even more!
2. Teach the quiet time lesson every year
After a couple of years, have some of your older teens who are consistent in their quiet time actually teach the lesson. This allows for peer-to-peer impact!
3. Take time to go through a quiet time together
Sit down one-on-one with each teen that is not doing a quiet time. Take them through some verses for them to read out loud about the importance of God’s Word in our lives. For example, take Psalm 119:7-10, 105, and 133. After they read each verse, ask them what God is saying! Ask them if God wants us to read His Word, but also ask if He wants us to apply His Word as well.
You could also pull out a sample Quiet Time Devotional and walk through one day of it together. They can read the passage and write down their responses. You could write down your responses as well. Have them read their responses, then you read your own responses. Ask if they have something they could pray for—it could be for themselves, their family, or their friends. Have them write those requests down and then pray for them right then.
I would challenge you to do as I did—show them your Quiet Time Devotional and prayer diary. I would then ask them to work on doing their quiet time each day of the next week. They can bring back their Quiet Time Devotional for you to check. If they ask if they can see your Quiet Time too, always say yes. When you look at their Quiet Time, be excited—even if they only did three days! That is three more days than before. You can also equip your small group leaders and older teens to mentor the younger teens to start doing a quiet time.
4. Accountability with encouragement
We are not looking at legalistic accountability here, but inspecting Quiet Time Devotionals offers many opportunities for encouragement. During my years as a youth leader, I don’t remember reading too many Quiet Times; I do remember scanning a few thousand Quiet Times to check the number of days students did and to see if they were applying what they read by using the words “I,” “me,” and “myself.” It does not take long to scan a week of Quiet Times. I would add a written comment of encouragement to each one for every week I checked. Your students will move forward faster with encouragement and accountability.
5. Add an element of fun
Have a fun competition challenging teens to complete their Quiet Time Devotionals and bring them to youth group. Give them so many points for each day and a bonus if they do all seven days. Students above a certain level of points at the end of the month get free pizza. We did this as a fun way of getting teens started in doing their quiet time.
Here is the key: doing a quiet time does not make a person spiritual. However, having a quiet time allows God to speak to us through His Word and allows us to make commitments that will help us to grow in our walk with Him. One of my passions in ministry was to get students started and help them continue in that daily habit. Before teens graduate, we want them to develop an appetite for being with God each day to the extent that they will desire to continue that daily meeting with God after they graduate, to grow as men and women of God each day. That is our prayer for each of our young people! Is that yours too? What will you do to get your teens into God’s Word today?
Ken Dady has served in the Word of Life International Ministries Offices as a coach to missionaries and local churches for the past four years. Before that, he and his wife, Pam, served as Word of Life area missionaries in western Ohio for 35 years.