Matthew 18.3-4, 10
Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven …. See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.’
Children and young people are often thought of as the future: but they are also the present. And they are our present from Jesus. Their experiences of the present also form the adults that they will one day become. So it is our duty as Christians in Southampton to bring Jesus into the present lives of not just our own children, but the lives of all of the young people of our city. We can do this through our prayers and our actions. So very, very many children don’t know Jesus. So very, very many adults who care for children don’t know Jesus. The task that we face is huge, but Jesus can and will equip us for it. He is waiting for us to ask him.
Lord, we pray for you to be made known wherever there are children and young people in our city. We pray that our churches will be equipped and impassioned to reach out to our young people. We pray against the pressures that young people face from our increasingly digital culture and from the growing brokenness of families and poverty. And we ask you to place your people in positions of authority and care for children and young people so that your love can become active in the lives of each one. Amen.
We specifically commend to your prayers the parents of young people and those involved in education in Southampton – we suggest that you name before the Lord your local schools, colleges and universities, pre-schools and nurseries. Also Street Pastors patrolling outside local schools (see southamptonstreetpastors.org) local youth projects and clubs. Pray for social services relating to children and young people. And pray for all adults employed in these sectors. Pray regularly, by name, for individual children you know.