Too Busy This Holiday Season To Pray, Hope, or Wish You a Merry Christmas
It was a Friday Night Youth Service at my local church last week. I received an invitation to join their group for a young people’s prayer service. I would have normally turned down the invitation; I'm a busy 40 (something) year old professional woman who is responsible for duties in other areas of ministry, a mother, grad student, and full time employee. Christmas is only weeks away so I just don’t have time for additional ‘things’. Attending one more service, especially for a group of teens that probably doesn't want an 'old gal' hanging around anyway, would just be one more event on my overflowing to-do list. It’s too difficult to fit everything in. How can I help in planning a wonderful Christmas experience in my area of ministry if I don’t focus on the tasks at hand? I have to choose my attendance carefully as not to burnout from overload. However today I was already at church to meet with a small group of my closest leaders for Christmas planning. My meeting had just ended so there I was at the church with no excuse for not attending the youth prayer service, at least for a minute or two.
They had a little three member praise band at the front of their makeshift sanctuary/classroom. This was real worship, regardless of the size. The lights were dim and young people were praying for each other up front. There were also several youth in the back as well, just chit-chatting, laughing and playing around as some young people do. But, there in the center of the room was an awesome site... a large group sitting, watching, and some praying alone. Too timid to go up front, but wanting prayer. These are the ones I focused on.
I walked to a few of the young ladies and asked what their names were and if I could pray for them. “Yes, my name is….” as the Spirit led, I prayed. When I finished, one of the young ladies smiled shyly with tears in her eyes. I gave her a polite sideways ‘Christian hug’ and prepared to leave; I had attended and done my part in supporting the youth. Before I could back away completely, a young man, only a few feet away called out loudly;
“Hey! Hey! Could you bless me too? I mean, could you pray for me too, please? Pray for me too”
There was such desperation in his voice that I was stopped in my tracks. He could not have been more than 16 years old. Dressed in what could possibly be considered ‘gang affiliated’ colors and attire, matching his friends clothes who also stood close by watching. Most of them looked down at the ground, and smiled shyly or pretended not to care.
“What’s your name I asked” my name is…. as he lowered his head and closed his eyes. He could care less that others were watching, and he didn’t want to waste another moment talking. I prayed for him with fervency and a broken heart, as if I were praying for my own child, expecting God to pray through me. I didn’t know his needs, but I know God did.
My heart was broken in two. Without speaking more than a few words, I heard a cry for God’s help and provision. He may not have known how to go about this whole ‘Christian thing’, but he knew he needed the intervention of a Heavenly Father. This kind of request takes guts! To stand with peers watching, smiling, acting ‘cool’ and ‘unconcerned’. When we are desperate for a blessing and intervention of God in our situation, we will risk seeming ‘weak’ to call out “pray for me”.
Preparing for the Christmas season, the duties of ministry and meeting the needs of others is important, however it is easy to lose track to the reason we celebrate this season in the first place.
Here’s hoping you are nothing like me, busy busy busy, almost too busy with preparing for ministry that I nearly missed an opportunity to truly be a vessel for ministry.
"First, I want all of you to pray for everyone. Ask God to bless them. Give thanks for them. Pray for kings. Pray for all who are in authority. Pray that we will live peaceful and quiet lives. And pray that we will be godly and holy. That is good. It pleases God our Savior. He wants everyone to be saved. He wants them to come to know the truth." (1 Timothy 2:1-4 New International Reader's Version)