Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pray, now

Today was Laity Sunday. Because I am the lay leader at our church, I planned the service. Today I discovered something -- or made a decision.

As we teach class on Wednesdays, and discuss our gifts and our spiritual pathways, I have used prayer as an example of a gift that I don't have. I have found it difficult to pray out loud spontaneously in front of a group. I think I've written about that before. My problem is that, as lay leader, I've noticed that there are opportunities when I need this skill, so while I don't wish for different gifts, I do feel a call to try to develop that as a skill. I have noticed, also, that when I find that I am in a situation which calls for me to pray with no preparation, I always mention that it is not a skill I have. I think I've been doing it as a means of lowering expectations.

Today was one of those days when I needed to be able to pray without written preparation -- four times! I prayed twice for our group of worship leaders prior to a service. As the second service was about to begin, I noticed that 7 prayer shawls had been placed on the altar rail for consecration. During the early service, the Outreach Committee chairman, whose group was sponsoring an after church luncheon, asked me to pray a grace for the luncheon prior to dismissing the second service with a benediction.

So I did -- I prayed in all four of these situations with no written prep work, and really no prior thought. I was too busy to plan or worry about the prayers. And while the result was not brilliantly gifted, it was me. Each prayer fulfilled its purpose, and it had that feeling of comfort that comes from doing something which God has called you to do.

So, I've come to a conclusion, and made a decision. I've decided that if God places me in a situation that requires this kind of prayer, that I need to have the confidence that he will also equip me to do the job. That being the case, I'm going to quit preluding each prayer with the explanation that this is "not my gift."

If he places me in the situation to do it, then he will make sure I can. To doubt that, and to announce the doubt, is to doubt him and his willingness to help me with what I need to do.

Image: Sun through the trees at Asbury Woods during our youth group meeting tonight.

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