Our Lives Matter: A Prayer for Young People | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
July 2016

Our Lives Matter: A Prayer for Young People

By Chris Wilterdink

Young people have the spiritual gift of hope, and optimism that grows from our faith when it is planted in community. We are part of a community in pain. Young people have the spiritual gift of resiliency, shown in the ability to get up and say “Let’s try again” after falling short of living in God’s household, God’s Kingdom. We are part of that falling short. Young people have the spiritual gift of clarity and justice, easily seeing when something is right and when something is wrong. We are part of both seeing and not seeing. Young people have the spiritual gift of agitation, able to encourage and be a part of change when change is needed. We are part of what needs changing.

In our world connected by the internet, young people are the first to know about trending news. There is no filter for what we see, save what we create for ourselves. It is sad and alarming that shooting incidents and violence are increasingly becoming the kinds of trends that young people see and read about. This can lead to fear and agitation. This can lead to anger. This can lead to more violence, and the cycle continues. Incidents of violence like those most recently in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Dallas create opportunities to continue living in a shattered, divided, and reclusive manner.

But these incidents call us to hope. Hope that the love of Chris can transcend boundaries—racial, economic, and class. Whatever divides, Christ calls us to engage and come together.

Black lives matter. Your life matters. Our lives matter. The simple existence of our lives matters, yes – but the way in which we live our lives matters too. We are called to help young people understand that the way we live our lives matters. Having a faith life means being called to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Young people are making their voices heard on the streets and online, and we have to be there with them. To provide the gift of tongues so that others may hear and understand. We must be the hands and feet of Christ, seeking justice in community. We must not recoil from the difficult things. “We can say, God, why this cup? Couldn’t this be someone else’s cup?” We must say “not my will, but yours.”

And so we pray that the we may all see the face of Christ in each other. We pray that through the noisiness of this world, the we can discern and share God’s just response to senseless killing and violence. We pray that young people engage otherness, and come to understand truth. We pray for strength and unity in the valuing of human life.

We pray that the God of peace will rule in the hearts of young people, police officers, legislators, community leaders—regardless of race. We pray that communities unite together in these difficult times. And we pray that, as the church—in various communities in the US, and around the world where violence is a present reality—may we become the peacemakers that help others see the face of God in every human being. Amen.

Chris serves as Director of Young People’s Ministries for Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Chris has a BA in English Education, and an MS in Project Management, and over 15 years of local-church youth ministry experience. He is passionate about leadership and faith development in young people and helping ministry leaders understand their value in the lives of young people. A Stephen Minister, Chris is a native of Colorado living in Franklin, TN with his wife Emily, 2 children, and sausage-shaped beagle.