Toothbrush challenge is a foundation to build upon
Simple prayer during simple task will lead to more awareness, Mark Neuhring says.
A few weekends ago, I was on retreat with a group of 50 high school students at Camp Victory. If you have never been to Camp Victory in Zumbro Falls, I would encourage you to find a reason to use that facility.
During the retreat, I met with a small group of young men after every talk to process what they heard. In one of our small groups, a number of men shared how difficult it was to give God time in their life.
It can be very difficult for teenagers to give God time, between Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, school, extracurricular activities and life, teens are overwhelmed with information. They can also feel a great deal of pressure to act a certain way, get good grades and be socially popular.
It can be very challenging to give God time when you think you have to add something to your day, but I asked every young man if they brushed their teeth daily. After they said yes, I encouraged them to say a prayer every time they brushed their teeth. This simple action can become habit and lead to a greater awareness of prayer in their daily life.
The toothbrush challenge is not exceptionally creative and it doesn’t require any additional time. It simply challenges students to be mindful of the moment they brush their teeth.
Just like practicing piano regularly leads to becoming a better pianist, praying daily leads to a greater understanding of being a Christian. When anyone first learns to play the piano, they learn simple songs, and then overtime use those skills to learn more complex songs.
The toothbrush challenge is a simple prayer challenge to get students used to praying daily. They say it takes 10 days for a new action to become a habit. After 10 days, the students can then look at adding to their prayer routine. The toothbrush challenge can become a foundation for a wide variety of prayers and a variety of ways to live out their faith.
Confirmation is not an end, but rather an apprenticeship time in what it means to be a Christian Catholic in the world today.
I really hope this retreat helped the students recognize how much they are loved and cared for as they continue on this faith-filled journey toward their Confirmation.
The toothbrush challenge does not have to be limited to these Confirmation students. We could all try this challenge and see where it leads.
Mark Nuehring is director of faith formation at Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rochester. "From the Pulpit" features reflections from area religious leaders.
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