What to do when … Boys whisper and fool around during prayer

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.


Administering discipline during a ” Spiritual” activity, such as Bible study or prayer, is not a pleasant task. Strong words by the adult leader tend to sour the mood of the group and negate the spiritual impact. It is not very satisfying to a leader when he feels he is forcing boys to be “spiritual.” He knows it can’t be done. Also boys begin to associate the things of God with serious, rigid attitudes, not with joy and enthusiasm. This erroneous thinking can be detrimental to a boy’s later Christian progress.

How does a leader handle misbehavior during prayer times?

Model God’s patience

Leaders should remember that God is patient with us as we learn to mature and to conquer sinful habits. This same patience should be modeled for boys so that they learn about God’s patience by our attitude and approach to them. This does not mean we must ignore the problem, but it does change how we approach the boy when we decide it must be addressed.

Explain why prayer is important

Leaders need to explain the importance of prayer to the boys. Prayer is talking to God and should always be done with respect and gratitude because of the character of God. This may be a time to discuss God’s holiness.  In Battalion and Stockade, prayer is offered to God because He is the most important Person to the group and learning to know Him is a primary purpose of the program. Don’t try to make boys feel guilty for not paying attention during prayer; rather gently remind them of the great privilege and honor it is for us to be able to address God. Individual boys may need to be spoken to privately if they continue to be noisy.

Pray briefly and simply

Avoid long, flowery prayers that boys cannot follow. Set an example of genuine prayer before God. Don’t turn your prayers into “little sermons” aimed at the boys. Remember prayer is talking to God not the people around you. Close your eyes and try not to worry about the group. If you hear noises, don’t stop to reprimand boys who are talking. Simply finish your prayer and then deal with the situation. Express disappointment in the boys’ actions but avoid strong condemnation. Consider carefully any specific punishment unless the group has been disrupted.

Get boys participating

Give boys opportunities to pray. Post and squad meetings are starting points. Leaders should all participate in prayer so that is is not just one man’s job. Ask boys ahead of time if you want them to pray before the entire group. Remember that one of the goals of Brigade is to train boys to be men. Give them chances to participate and equip them beforehand to be successful. A short pray is a great way for boys to begin.


This series was adapted from a resource that has been used by Brigade leaders for decades.

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.


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