Prayer and Preparation

Having led two youth group meetings so far, I have become aware of two things: I don’t pray enough, and I don’t prepare enough.

I suppose those are sort of obvious maxims. I mean, who actually ever prays or prepares “enough “? Nevertheless, it’s one thing to be aware in the abstract sense that, for the sake of your own working out of salvation, you don’t pray enough, and something else again to realize that you are about to preside over a meeting that will be considered a “success” based on the moving of the Holy Spirit. There’s no way to make that happen. And yet, if He doesn’t show up, if He doesn’t work in the hearts of people He has claimed as His own, the whole exercise is really pointless. At any gathering of His people, what is the church assembled for, if not to meet with the living God?

To take up any kind of pastoral responsibility for a group of people is to take up a burden to pray for them, both individually and as a body. How heartbreaking it is to look upon a people and see how they are, and imagine how they could be, if only the Spirit of Christ would move on them. And heartbreaking it should be, for that is the burden to pray.

And then preparation! I am absolutely convinced that I had more cogent things to say when I was 17 than I do now. Before, I knew so few things, but I knew them with a certainty tat was astounding. Now I have more information, but it’s often conflicted and nearly always uncongealed, with the result that when I open my mouth, even when I know what I want to say, the words stumble out in stammering speech from trembling lips.

Look at these words on the screen. Aren’t they pretty? Don’t the thoughts flow cleanly, with one idea proceeding naturally from the next? Oh the advantages of writing! So many crossed out words that you don’t see! So many breaks from writing that you weren’t witness to. Each one represents an unpardonable stumble when talking to a group.

Occasionally, I have heard myself saying things worth listening to. Unfortunately, invariably those are times when no one else is in the room. And oh! to crystallize those moments and store them and bring them out again when the occasion calls! But of course, that’s just a fancy way of saying, “Oh! to prepare before I speak!”

Blogging ought to help me with this. I just need to blog first about whatever it is I need to speak about. But there seems to be some sort of chasm I need to jump in that I write about what I happen to be thinking about and not what I plan to talk about. Witness the fact that I’m writing about my difficulties in public speaking, rather than the things I actually intend to speak about. Obviously, I’m not thinking nearly enough about the things I intend to talk about. And there’s that preparation concept again.

And so I covet your prayers – that I might pray, and that I might prepare.

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