Learning By Doing
There are several things in ministry life that I have had to learn simply by doing. One of those things involves praying and altars. One would assume that a pastor’s wife wouldn’t be awkward in prayer, right? And, she likely would at least know what to do at an altar, or at least what an altar is? Well, for me, I was simply lacking in both areas as I stepped into the unknown world of pastoral ministry.
Prayer, that I wasn’t a foreigner to. But, praying out loud or in front of others - now that was cause for my heart to race! My thoughts would get all into a jumble and my sweet communion with God was quickly melted away by fear. What will I say? How will I say it? Will I speak clearly? How long should I pray? In a matter of a few seconds my private prayer life was turned upside down. Yet, my desire to be a witness to others of my fellowship with God spurred me on. I can do this. Just speak your heart. After all, it’s not about what others will think. It’s about God and those you are praying for.
Before becoming a mother, I don’t know if I ever spoke an original prayer out loud. Sure, I said the typical grace over meals out loud – along with my family members. And, I did have several different bedtime prayers that I recited each and every night for many years. One was even in Swedish. But, to speak a prayer in my own words - out loud - that I wasn't comfortable with at all!
Through my children, God slowly prepared and equipped me for ministry even though I was unaware of it. When I knelt alongside the edge of my children’s beds, as they lay ready to sleep, we would pray. At first they just repeated after me, but as the years passed by that changed. They began asking me to pray. Out loud. I’m embarrassed to say that I was actually tempted to say, No. Thankfully, I listened to the nudge of the Holy Spirit and understood that my girls would learn more by my example, and so I spoke a prayer out loud!
Yes, I still remember those early days when I was a bit traumatized by hearing my voice speak my heart to my Savior. Why did it seem so much more intimate to hear my words out loud? I was insecure and fearful, but I didn't let on to the girls! God is so much bigger than our insecurities. And, boy, am I thankful for that!
Now, when someone approaches me to pray for them, or when someone goes to the altar at church or when I sense the need to ask someone if I can pray for them I have no fear or trembling. My focus is on the individual. The precious gift we’ve been given to pray for others. The reality that God doesn’t care what specific words I say. He alone will bless any effort I make to comfort, encourage and direct another soul deeper into communion and dependence on Him. God has taken this timid pray-er and made her into a prayer warrior, and for that I am humbled.
For all those who have shown me over the years what prayer can look like, I am so grateful. Their examples have been my education and inspiration. My parents gave me the training wheels to get my prayer life started, and God's Word has been my foundation. No doubt, I have much more to learn about prayer, but I’m not afraid of hearing my voice any more, and I am no longer timid to share a prayer with someone at the altar, on the phone or even in a parking lot!
So, where has God been growing and equipping you lately? Have you been a willing participant? I have no doubt that God has all the resources we both need to grow in our faith walk, so I leave you today with this prayer found in Hebrews 13:20-21 -
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”