From Chicken Soup for the Soul Presents Teens Talkin' Faith

Chapter Eight





I chose this chapter title because I know that some teens feel as if God is “too far away” to actually talk to. However, when you read passages from this chapter, I believe that you will see how close prayer can actually bring you to God. Teens share their stories and their philosophies of prayer. I pray that you will take from their testimonies a notion of the peace, comfort, strength, and hope that can be found in having a conversation with the Lord.

Mrs. T


I have not been to church in over four years. Every Sunday, I selfishly sleep in until the sun is so bright that I can sleep no longer. I do, however, pray every day. At night, when I have gotten off the phone from talking to my friends or my boyfriend, I turn off all the lights, get into bed, and have a nice talk with God. I tell God all about my day, what I enjoyed, and what upset me. I tell God about my plans for the next day, and that I hope He protects me while I sleep. I always thank God for giving me such wonderful people in my life. I thank Him for allowing me to be a healthy, happy, intelligent sixteen-year-old girl whose biggest worry is what I am going to wear the next day or if I did all of my homework. I like to pray for all the people in the world who are scared, sick, cold, hungry, or hurting in any way.

Talking to God each night makes me feel incredibly blessed and lucky for the life the Lord has given me. When I take time to reflect on my day by talking to God, it makes me happy to be alive. The Lord makes my daily problems and frustrations feel very insignificant compared to the love He has shown me. Since I was very young, I have seen God as an open journal. Each night I record my feelings and thoughts. He reads them over and guides me on what to do. God is always listening. God is your oldest and best friend. He knows everything about you and does not judge you. Talking to God every day is very good for letting go of stress. It helps me to relax and feel at peace. I fall asleep knowing that I am loved by Him and that all of His children are here for a reason. Never be afraid to tell God anything. He already knows what you are going to say. The Lord is a patient friend when you feel you have no one.



God answers prayers in countless different ways— some you would expect and some you have no idea are coming. When I was very young, God answered my family’s prayers with something we never would have thought or wanted, but we can see the blessing in it today.

When I was around three years old, my parents went on vacation and left my fourteen-month-old brother and me with the babysitter. One day, the babysitter left my brother and me in the bathtub while she was cooking grilled-cheese sandwiches. In a moment that changed our lives forever, my brother drowned in the bathtub, and the babysitter was unable to do anything about it. I had no idea what was going on because I was too young, and all I remember are the paramedics putting these black things on my brother's chest. It took awhile to reach my parents, but when we did, we were all praying for a miracle. We prayed and prayed, but God did not answer our prayers the way we thought he might.

The doctor approached my parents and said that Colby, my brother, was not going to make it. He asked if we would like to donate his organs. My parents had not even considered this question before, but they decided to say “yes.” This small word worked great miracles in the lives of other people. Colby’s kidneys saved a man around twenty years old from dying. His liver saved a young girl, and his heart went to a young boy and saved his life. The young boy and his family are now great friends with our family, and we try to visit each other every year. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that Colby still lives on in those three other people and that he made other people’s prayers come true. Our prayers were answered, too, just not in the way we wanted them to be. This just goes to show that even if God doesn’t help you exactly like you think He should, He is always listening and working in our lives. If you look in the right places, you will find Him.

T. J., 17


I have learned that God is so incredibly amazing that words can’t even describe it. It took quite an act from God for me to learn this lesson, though. When I was younger, I would pray, read the Bible, go to church, and try to act in the “WWJD” way, but then, for whatever reason, it all started to fade. I felt like God wasn’t there anymore. All my efforts to be a good person appeared to be useless. Yeah, Jesus died on the cross, but so what? Why should I have to honor that? I used to, but the thought of how great He was slipped quickly from my head and my heart. I was at church one Sunday and said to myself, Why am I here? I got up, went outside, sat on the ground, and said, “God, if you’re really there, show Yourself to me.” He knew I felt left out and alone, and that at that moment I needed Him more than ever.

He revealed Himself to me, not once, but twice that day. The first time, I was sitting at a table with a group of friends after church, and a guy happened to be reading his Bible at that same table. I glanced over to check out what he was reading. It was Psalm 27. I didn’t think much of it and continued my conversation. About two hours later, I couldn’t believe what I saw. A man walked by me, and right across the front of his shirt it said: Psalm 27. I knew at that moment God was trying to tell me something, and I had to read Psalm 27! I went home, opened my Bible, and read, “Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.” This was from verse 7. Verse 9 went on to say, “Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.” Those two verses and that whole entire Psalm changed my life forever. The fact that God cannot only hear us when we pray but also understand us is so amazing. So, is Jesus real? ABSOLUTELY! All ya’ gotta do is pray!

KYLE, 15


When life isn’t going so great, I have a strong urge to talk to Jesus. I stop what I am doing and get down to praying. I pray because Jesus is the most important thing in my life, and just knowing that He died for my sins and is always with me makes me want to pray to Him. When I pray, I start off by admitting that I am a sinner. I ask Him to forgive me for what I have done. I tell Him that I am blessed that He is there to forgive me. I tell Him that I love Him, and that His love and glory will never leave my soul. I trust in Him, and I know that He will never abandon me. When I am done pouring my heart out to God, I tell Him what’s on my mind, I sing praises to Him, or I just let Him know that I am happy that He is in my life. Praying is such a large part of my life. My spirit is lifted when I pray. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways that I feel guilty about all the sins I have committed. Although God lifts this guilt from my heart when He forgives me, I still pray that I will make better decisions in the future.



You know that “easy button” from that commercial on TV? Well, for me praying to God is like having my own easy button. No, I don't instantly get my every wish granted, but I have someone to talk to who is easy to contact and always available. Praying to God is easy because I know that He's there and will listen. Even though there is only one way to push the easy button, there are many ways to pray to God. You can pray spontaneously, when you feel the urge to talk to someone. You can pray before or after you eat, when you want to show God appreciation for the delicious meal and for the person who prepared it. You can pray when you wake up and those rays of sunlight are trickling through your window, and you just want to shout for joy at the beauty of it. And you can pray after you have a long day and you need to let out all the anger or sorrow that built up at school or while doing something else.

For me, I like to pray when I feel the need all of a sudden. It may be because I've got a big game. Just being able to talk to someone who won't tell me what I did wrong if I lose or play badly gives me the strength to keep going even when I feel tired and frustrated. Or maybe when I walk outside and the stars are perfect and the air has a touch of breeze that wraps around me, it makes me want to thank whoever is responsible. I make up my own prayers and say whatever might be on my mind. The best part is that when I talk to God, I can do it without feeling judged and without worrying about sounding stupid or getting embarrassed. I believe that everyone who prays also has prayers that seem to go unanswered. I think the reason is because God probably knows what’s good for us, more than we do. God knows what our life should be like, and He has a bigger plan that we are a part of, if we choose to accept His will for us. That's right, God has a will for each of us, but He gave us free choice. If you choose to, you can skip out on His big plan for you. Or you can pray and follow Him. It's as “easy” as that!



I pray to God because I feel when I talk to Him, He truly listens. I feel I can say anything to Him, and He will understand. I pray to God because some things I am just not comfortable saying in front of others. So I say them to God because I know that He is always listening and will always understand what I am going through.



I never used to pray for help from God as much as I should have, but since this recent court case with my mom and dad, I’ve learned to pray as much as I can.

I’ve lived with my grandparents for ten years, and I feel like they’re my parents now. My mom and dad want to take that away from me, and they don’t understand how I feel or what I want. They only care about themselves. I started to live with my grandparents in the first place because my mom and dad weren’t married, they were both drug users, and my dad was violent and beat my mom and all of his other girlfriends. My mom and I had to go to a battered women’s shelter. My grandma offered to take me for a while until my mom got her stuff together. My mom agreed, and a little while turned into seven years. During this time, my grandparents got custody of me. I was glad because I didn’t want to go back to my mom or dad.

A little while after I turned twelve, my mom and dad took me and my grandparents to court. Before the day of court, I prayed my heart out that I could stay with my grandparents. I knew that my grandparents and I would need God’s courage to get through this battle, so I prayed for that, too. The day of court, my mom and dad both lied. They said they weren’t on drugs, which they were, and my dad said he wasn’t violent. My mom also said that my grandparents stole me from her, which was completely untrue. So after court, I prayed that everything was going to be all right.

Now, I know that sometimes when you pray, it doesn’t always work out like you want, but when we went back to court to hear the judge’s decision, I was amazed that we got what we wanted and more. My mom and dad made some bad choices, and it finally caught up with them. The judge saw through it, and so did I. Right now, I love my mom and dad, but I will never live with them or be as close to them as I am with my real parents—my grandma and grandpa!


AUTHOR’S NOTE: If you are able to identify with Lauren’s situation because you live in the presence of addiction and/or abuse, please seek help. The following resources can lead you to support services in your area: National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-HIT-HOME (1-800-448-4663); National Resource Center on Domestic Violence: 1-800-537-2238.


“Mom, will you turn on the light so I can see the dark?” I asked this question of my mom when I was three years old. I was riding in my car seat while my mom was driving at night. Over the years, my mom has told me this story many times, as my question continues to remind her to shine the light of God onto the darker things in life. What are some darker things in life? For me, not trusting God with my problems keeps me in the dark. Nothing will ever be done about my problems without God's help. Whenever I have problems, I go to my room and pray, giving all my troubles to God. Also, I know that God is always there, but sometimes I am not there for God. Being too busy for God is another way I end up in the dark. How many times have I thought, I'm going to be late for soccer! Do I ever worry about being late for God? Sometimes it feels like it's hard to have God on my mind, especially if I have activities outside of school like I do when I play soccer. I am learning to take God with me at all times wherever I go. I am also learning that I need to appreciate God by praying to Him and thanking Him every day. Now when I pray, I often ask the same question I asked when I was three years old. Instead of asking my mom, though, I ask God the question: “God, will You turn on the light so I can see the dark?” I know God’s brilliant love will shine on me forever and transform my dark into light.



I often think, Is God still protecting my soul? Does He still listen to my prayers? Does He still feel my pain? Or, does He look down on me for the choices I have made in my life? When I pray at night, I let God know that I am sorry for the sins I have committed, but there is nothing I or God can do to change those decisions. If someone were to ask me if I am ashamed of ever doing drugs, I would say “no” because now that I am off drugs, I feel that I am stronger in a way.

There is no way to change the bad decisions we make in life, but we can learn from our mistakes and make better choices in the future. By doing this, it makes us stronger. So, do I think God still listens to my prayers or shares my pain? Yes, I do, because I feel that no matter what kind of choices I make, God is still with me to help me and to show me a better way. God won’t make us do the right thing. All He can do is show us the path to follow. It is our choice to actually follow that path.

CURT, 16


I pray for two reasons: to ask God for something, and to thank Him. He is all-powerful. I pray when I am on the go. I’ll have something to pray about, and I’ll stop for a minute and think of God. I may petition, or I may thank Him. But then I am back on my way feeling that God is with me. In asking for something, I never try to test God. I trust that He is all-knowing and that the answer to my prayer is the answer I need. So I pray open-minded prayers. My favorite prayer, the one most meaningful to me, is, “God, Thy will be done.” It reminds me that God is in control, so whatever happens is His will, out of His goodness, grace, and understanding. And sometimes things don’t go exactly as I would like them to, but I know that though I may not understand why, God does, and I have to trust His answers.



When I was a lttle girl, I used to pray every night before I went to bed. It was something I was taught to do. Mom said there was something about having your hands in such a position that would reach God so He could know you had something to say to Him. As I grew up, my prayers changed. They slowly grew to mean more and more. But then I stopped praying for a while, until about five months ago. That is when I found out that my grandma had cancer, and since then I’ve never prayed so much in my life.

When I first found out, flashes of memory came back to me of when I was ten and my grandpa died of cancer. I knew what was next for my grandma, and I didn’t like it. My grandpa’s death was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with since I’ve been alive. After Grandpa died of cancer, my routine praying stopped. In fact, I rarely ever prayed. I know it’s wrong, but I got so mad at God for taking someone so special from me, especially after all the times I prayed to Him, asking Him not to take my grandpa away from me. I figured God must not be listening to me in my prayers. I had no desire to talk to God after that . . . until I heard about Grandma.

Once I found out that Grandma had cancer and only a 50 percent chance of it being removed, I realized there was no way that I could get through this alone. I needed help. My grandma is one of the most important people in my life. When my mom got off the phone and told me through thick tears that Grandma had cancer, I exploded. I remember punching my fists into the walls and screaming, “No!” All thoughts of my grandpa dying of cancer raced through my mind. This couldn’t happen to Grandma, too. How could God do this? I had to ask Him. The only way I was taught to talk to God was through recited prayers. The difference now was I found myself always praying for my grandma, with any words I could find in my heart. I would pray while I was on the phone, in class, during my softball games, everywhere. I also found that you don’t have to fold your hands to reach up and talk to God. In fact, you don’t even have to move your lips. I prayed all of the time.

Grandma went into surgery, and a few days later, the results of the procedure were given to us. When I heard the cancer had been completely removed, I cried almost as hard as I did when I found out she had it. I was so relieved, and the hurt inside started to leave me. It’s such a great feeling. I thank God for this because I know He had everything to do with it. I know now, looking back on those days when I didn’t pray, that it wasn’t right for me to be angry at Him. My grandpa is gone now, and that is something I have to live with every day of my life. But I know now that everything happens for a reason. Even though God didn’t make my grandparents have cancer, I learned from both situations. I also know now that God is there to talk to always. Even if it seems like He’s not listening, He is. He listens to everyone.



I pray several times a day. I always have. I don't exactly know why, but it comforts me when I talk to God because I know He's always listening. He knows what is best for me, so I have to trust that He'll make the right decision for me. I remember a little while ago there was a party that I really wanted to be invited to. I prayed and prayed for God to let me be invited, but I wasn't. I was angry for a while—even a little at God because I felt like He didn't answer my prayer. The day after the party, I heard that drugs and alcohol were being used there all night long. And whether they wanted to or not, everyone had taken part in some way. Later that night at the party, the cops came and busted everyone. A few people were even taken to juvenile hall. Then I realized that God hadn't answered my prayer for a reason. He protected me. And now I know that no matter how much I may disagree, He’ll always make the best decisions for me because He loves me.



“If you just can’t take it, take it to the Lord.” That would make a great magnet. Although it may seem cheesy, it’s true. Sometimes when I feel like life is weighing me down, I pray. I take it to the Lord. To me, prayer is just like talking to my father. You don’t need to be anyone special to talk to God. In fact, He wants you to talk to Him. When I pray, I feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

One of the many prayers God has answered for me is when He delivered my mom from drugs. She wasn’t into them heavily, but just enough to break our family apart. Ever since I could remember, my parents would be fighting, or my mom would move out for a while and stay with her friends. When this would happen, my dad, whom I admire very much, wouldn’t get all worked up and yell; he would pray. As a matter of fact, I can remember an instance when we were standing in the kitchen, and my dad held my hands. We prayed that my mom would realize sooner rather than later that she couldn’t live without God in her life. That was seven years ago, and we are only now beginning to see the benefit of our prayers. So, when you talk to God, you need to be patient. Results don’t often happen overnight. And even when prayers are answered, we still need to pray to God and thank Him for everything.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: If someone in your family has a problem with addiction, I encourage you to call Al-Anon/Alateen at 1-800-356-9996. They can refer you to support services for family members of addicts.


My friend Laura’s mom had been in the hospital’s intensive care unit for three weeks, battling complications from uterine cancer. She had drifted into a coma and depended on a respirator to breathe. She was bleeding internally, and her blood pressure had dropped so low that the doctors had called the family together to prepare them for the inevitable. They told Laura, along with her father and two brothers, that they didn’t expect her mother to make it through the night. If the family wanted to say good-bye, they’d better do it quickly. At that point, there was no hope for recovery. Laura and her family went directly to her mom’s room. Laura remembers telling her mother, “Mom, if you want to fight to live, now is the time. You have to do it now!” Yet, on the way home to get blankets and pillows to take back to the hospital so that they could stay by her mom’s side on what would surely be her last night, Laura’s conviction that her mom could fight to live deteriorated into hopelessness and desperation.

Once home, Laura left her dad sobbing on the couch while she went upstairs to gather bedding. On the way upstairs, she took a book full of prayers and scripture verses from the bookshelf. She entered her bedroom and then crumbled to the floor as desperate tears poured from her eyes. Feeling distraught and alone, she prayed to God. “This is all happening too fast,” she told Him. “You haven’t answered one of my prayers. God, have You abandoned me? Where are You?” And then Laura said that as she lay on the floor, hysterically sobbing, she begged God, “Lord, please give me something. If You are going to take my mother, give me something to let me know that You are real, that You can hear me. Give me something that will bring me comfort in this pain.”

At that point, Laura opened her book to a random page, and the words leapt off the paper and filled her heart with peace. For they said, “Believe in Me and do not doubt, for I am here. I am with you. Trust me.” Laura said that the instant she read those words, she knew deep inside her heart that not only had God given her comfort but He also answered her prayer with a feeling of absolute assurance that her mom would be okay. She said that all the fear and hopelessness she had felt when she came upstairs extraordinarily vanished into an overwhelming sense of calm. In fact, Laura said she felt bathed in peace.

Laura went directly downstairs and hugged her heartbroken father. “Dad,” she said, “Mom will be okay.” Laura’s brothers pulled her aside and asked her not to make this harder on their father. They were sure that Laura’s hope was desperate and futile. But Laura didn’t let them discourage her. The Holy Spirit had touched her heart. God had answered her prayer. Laura believed like she had never believed before.

They had only been gone an hour when they arrived back at the hospital. Laura’s dad had stopped to talk with someone in the lobby, while Laura went to her mom’s room. Miraculously, but of no surprise to Laura, her mother’s blood pressure was up, her need for extra oxygen was down, and her condition was stabilizing. Laura ran down the hall to tell her father. She exclaimed, “Dad, you are not going to believe this!” In fact, he didn’t. Knowing that he had to prepare his daughter, he told her that he knew she felt hopeful, but they still had to anticipate the unavoidable fact that her mother would die. But Laura knew that her mom would live. And she did! In the days to follow, they were able to take her mom off the respirator as she came out of her coma and began to breathe on her own. The first time that Laura’s mom spoke after they removed the respirator, she confided, “I saw God’s face the whole time I was asleep.”

Prayer is an awesome concept. Can we really talk to God? Does He actually listen? Can He truly answer? I know that many teens, as well as adults, struggle with the immensity of prayer. But I believe that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “Yes!” We can talk to God. He does hear because He cares about each and every one of us. And He does answer our prayers. However, I didn’t always feel so confident about prayer.

I actually used to believe that you had to be especially worthy for prayer to really work. I even remember listening to the leaders of my high-school youth group pray out loud and thinking, I’ll never be able to pray that well. I thought that my prayers had to be as eloquent and organized as theirs were. What I later learned, though, was that as long as your prayer is sincere, how a person prays doesn’t matter to God. Well-articulated prayers are not on God’s priority list. God cares what your heart is saying, not your lips.

I have spoken with many teens who say that the reason they don’t pray is because they don’t know how. Well, if you know how to carry on a conversation with a friend, then you can pray to God. Talk to Him. Tell Him about your day. Share with Him your worries. If you are feeling bad about something, admit that to Him, too. It will make you feel so much better inside, just to know that God knows you’re sorry for what you have done. It will also allow Him an opportunity to grant you forgiveness. The Lord wants this type of relationship with you. He wants you to feel comfortable talking to Him. God also wants to answer your prayers.

It is true that some people hear God actually speak to them, but most do not. Usually, God speaks to us subtly. Sometimes, He gives us a feeling. Often, God uses self-reflection as a means to answer prayer. When we listen to our own conscience, God provides endless and steadfast responses to our prayers. Other times, He presents us with a circumstance or situation that guides our path. However, it is up to us to recognize His guidance and acknowledge His answers. Sometimes I think that God puts an answer right in front of our noses, but because it is not exactly what we expected or specifically what we asked for, we don’t recognize it.

This reminds me of a story I once heard about a man who was standing on the roof of his house during a flood. The water was rising higher and moving faster. In fact, it was almost up to the edge of the roof. The man prayed to God and asked Him to rescue him. A few moments later, a couple in a small rowboat came by. They said to the man, “Get in. We will take you to safety.” The man said, “Don’t worry about me; God will save me.” The water got even higher, and a larger rescue boat came to save the man. He sent them away, telling them that he was counting on God to rescue him. Soon, the man felt water swirling around his ankles. It moved quickly up his legs to his waist. A helicopter appeared, and rescuers begged the man to grab the rope they threw down to him. The man, with much conviction in his voice, yelled up to the chopper, “No, go save someone else. I prayed to God. I know that He will save me!” Moments later, the man was washed away by the water and drowned in the flood. When he got to heaven, he asked God, “Lord, why didn’t you answer my prayer and rescue me?” God looked at the man with a wry grin on His face and said, “I did! I sent you a rowboat, a rescue boat, and a helicopter!”

You see, the man didn’t recognize God’s answer because he was blinded by his own expectations. Having faith that God will answer our prayers doesn’t mean slacking off and just waiting for God to provide. Sometimes, I think that prayer, or even God for that matter, can be used as an excuse. For example, if you pray to God for a good after-school job, and then every day you go home after school, eat ice cream, and watch TV while you wait for God to drop a job in your lap, it just isn’t going to happen. I actually believe that God expects more from us than that. He gave each of us talents and abilities. He encourages us to take initiative. His answers aren’t always obvious or immediate. Sometimes we learn lessons while we wait. That, in itself, is a gift from God.

At the same time, occasionally His answer occurs in an unanswered prayer. For example, you may pray with intensity about getting together with a particular guy or girl whom you have been in love with forever. Yet, your prayer may go unanswered. This doesn’t happen because God wants to see you sad or deprived. It is more likely that He knows this person isn’t right for you. God can see a bigger picture than we can. He can see what lies ahead of us, while we are limited by our needs of the moment. This may also explain why miracles sometimes occur, while other times they don’t. My friend Laura’s answered prayer was an obvious miracle. However, I know many people who have prayed intensely for a miracle, yet nothing happens. Sometimes we just have to trust that God knows what is best for us. Likely, what appears to be an unanswered prayer to us is actually answered as “wait” or “no” from God.

Perhaps you are reading this, and you’ve never prayed before. You can start by letting your first prayer be one that establishes a relationship with God. Ask Him to enter your heart and fill you with His Spirit. He wants that more than anything. I was speaking with a girl once who told me that it made her uncomfortable to pray. The more we talked about it, the more she realized that although she was trying to talk to God, she didn’t have a personal relationship with Him. It would be like trying to start up an intimate conversation with a stranger in an elevator. You will be hindered by the boundaries of your remoteness.

Yet if you open your heart to the Lord, I think you’ll find that He is pretty easy to talk to. You will also discover that prayer is very rewarding. Sharing our worries and fears with God, as well as our triumphs and praises, is like confiding in a best friend. As Kinzie suggests in her excerpt, God is the one person that she tells everything to because He is always listening and understanding, for He knows her heart like no one else. Kinzie also knows that the answers to her life problems often reside within the power of God’s love. My friend Laura learned this, too.

Laura’s mom has been in remission for more than five years. Laura has told me that the spiritual experience she encountered on the eve of her mother’s recovery has taught her so much. Mostly, she realized that sometimes you have to let your whole being and soul be laid down before God. Prior to her prayer of desperation, Laura had put conditions on her prayers. She had tried to stay in control, and she told God what she thought should happen, rather than surrendering her problems to Him. She said that she would pray often, but she never turned her mother’s sickness and situation completely over to God. Laura would give the Lord her worries, but then quickly grab them back and let them gnaw at her heart, while they grew bigger and bigger. Now, she prays for the presence of mind and heart to truly let go and completely submit her concerns to God.

Laura also learned that answered prayers come in many forms. God touched Laura’s heart and gave her reassurance in an overwhelming feeling of peace. He also guided her to the faithful words in her book that gave her the comfort and hope she had been lacking. Let Laura’s lessons be guidance for you as well. Know that God gave us prayer as a means to communicate with Him. Prayer is His gift to you. Make use of it, and feel the power of God’s love and guidance work in your life.

Mrs. T

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