Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prayer as a part of preparation

I wish someone would have told me to make prayer more a part of my preparation as I prepared messages every week for our students. Oh sure, I prayed, but often, due to the busyness of the week, my prayers sounded more like the high school student sitting in class waiting for the test, "Lord, please help me!" I spent a ton of time reading commentaries. I spent a ton of time reading the passage over and over in context. I spent a ton of time creating PowerPoint presentations to make my messages more visually appealing. I spent hours upon hours searching for just the right movie clip to hammer home my point. I spent hours on creating handouts to help our students engage the message. I spent hours creating entire teaching journals for our students to track each message in the series. I spent hours writing questions to help our students engage the message they heard during the week. I spent hours arranging the room to be just right when the walked in.

I didn't spend hours in prayer.

I wish someone would have reminded me of the disciples' words in Acts 6:4, "But we will devote ourselves to prayer..." Sure, spending hours doing all of the above wasn't wrong, in and of itself, but where where the hours spent in prayer? I wish someone would have told me that I needed to talk to God about the students before I talked to the students about God.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Biggest Hindrance to Prayer

I wish someone would have talked to me “straight up” about the hindrances I was going to experience to practicing prayer as the foundation for my ministry. I can remember people hinting that the “busyness” of ministry would get in the way of my prayer time. I needed to watch my calendar. I needed to schedule it. I needed to not schedule it at 11:00 p.m. at night or I wouldn’t be awake through my prayer time. There were several other thoughts here and there that well meaning people tried to point out.

But no one and I mean no one, pointed out what I believe the biggest hindrance to be…ME.

I wish someone would have had the guts to look me in the eye and say, “You can’t be alone, can you?” I wish someone who knew me the best would have challenged me to quit hiding behind the fact that I am an extrovert. I wish someone would have called my bluff when I told them that because I was an extrovert I always talked to God. I wish someone would have asked me, “When was the last time you were quiet and alone with God?” I wish I would have been told that one of my greatest strengths in ministry was one of my greatest hindrances to being with the One my ministry was for.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Make prayer THE foundation

I wish someone would have hammered it into me that prayer needed to be the first foundation I laid in my youth ministry.

As I started youth ministry prayer was something that started meetings and ended meetings. It was something that started a teaching time and ended a teaching time. It was something that started a small group and ended a small group. It was something that started a leaders meeting and ended a leaders meeting.

Prayer wasn't a part of my ministry plan. I had parents to contact. I had students to meet with. I had programs to run. I had trips to plan. I had to create a disciplemaking pathway. I had to prepare lessons. I had to find relevant movie clips. I had to create PowerPoint slide shows to make my messages more relevant. I had to fill out room set up requests. I had to answer email (well, not when I first started :)). I had to answer voice messages. I had to keep the parents informed. I had to report to my boss. I had to attend trainings in the city. I had train my volunteers. I had to build relationships with other paid staff members. I had to build a relationship with my administrative assistant. I had to make sure the lights were turned out when I left the building. I had to make sure all the doors were locked. I had to make sure every student got picked up. I had to make sure that the rooms were ready for the meeting the next morning.

And that's not even 1/20th of what I had to do.

Sure I had to do all that and more...but as I began to "do" my job I realized that there was a big...BIG difference between saying prayers as I did my ministry and making prayer part of my ministry.