How do you get a misbehaving kid to “do better?” What if your budget doesn’t match your vision? How do you really help someone move forward in their relationship with Christ?
The Secret for All Ministry
My friend described to me an experience he had after a church service one day. It has always stayed with me, though my explanation here has likely morphed and changed over the years to match my imagination.
A 92-year-old woman walked across the sanctuary with a look of intensity and seriousness. She was moving fast, as if on a divine mission. From across the room she caught the eyes of my friend who, at the time, was still in high school. He knew she was coming for him, and she looked determined and there was fierceness on her face.
When she got to him, she grabbed his arm. I always imagine it as a surprisingly strong, forceful grab – though in reality, it was probably gentle. She looked solidly into his eyes and spoke slowly with a crackly voice.
“Prayer. Prayer is more powerful than the atomic bomb.”
Without another word she nodded her head once as if she accomplished somethi ng extremely important and then walked away.
Yes, it is True
It is not a cliché, it is not a joke, it is not trite – it is not that thing you say because it sounds like it is the answer you should say. Prayer is the most critical key of any ministry. Think about how powerful the atomic bomb is. Prayer, quite literally, is more powerful than that.
You might be nodding your head with me, feeling warm and fuzzy, thinking, “Yeah, it is. That’s great. Prayer is great. Love it.”
But are you praying?
I don’t intend to be the voice of conviction, but we have to ask the question: Are we really praying? Do we pray for the kids or people in our ministry? How are we praying – with specificity and faith and fervor? With persistence?
God has said that we can come boldly to the Throne of Grace. We have access to the One with all the power there is! And He deeply desires to impact our ministries and the kids that we serve. I won’t try to get into theology here, but part of seeing Him work in this world is by asking Him.
Prayer Changes Things
I remember once praying for “Chad” during an altar call at camp. I was in the back of the room, and I felt strongly that the Lord wanted me to pray for Chad to go forward. I asked God to give Chad the strength and courage to go forward, and to my amazement – I saw him rise!
Then he sat back down. He looked around, clearly uncomfortable and nervous.
So, I prayed more – “Lord, help Chad to know you are calling him out. Let him sense Your Spirit in a way he has never felt before. Help him to listen to You, and to do what You are saying.”
Chad started to get up again. I felt thrilled! He took a step forward, and then sat back down again.
This happened three more times, and I kept praying and watching this kid wrestling through his desire to go forward. My prayer felt like I was battling alongside the Lord against Chad’s fears…it was intense and real. In the end, he went up to the altar and made a new step forward with Christ!
Prayer changes things. It changes circumstances, situations, and even people. I firmly believe if I hadn’t been obedient to pray in that moment, Chad wouldn’t have gone forward. There are so many stories I could tell you where I have seen God move in our ministry and in my life because of prayer. Prayer can change everything.
What’s the Best Way to Pray?
ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication? A liturgical, pre-written prayer? Prayer and fasting? Light a candle? Use a prayer shawl? Pray with friends?
The answer is – Yes! The best way to pray is to pray. Whatever method helps you focus on God is likely just fine. Don’t get caught up or worried about methodology so much that it becomes an obstacle…just pray.
Lilliana, my 5-year-old pictured in this post, has a vibrant relationship with God. Her prayers are often short and without religious “red-tape.” Yet she is full of faith when she prays and believes God will answer her.
There is incredible value in learning about prayer from the Bible and other’s experiences. I just finished a book about prayer that has deepened the way I pray. If you would like some prayer resources, let me know and I can make some recommendations.
However, before you dive into the depths of the systematic theology of prayer, I suggest we all start by simply praying.
It Really is the Secret!
I was with an executive of a national organization who was asking us questions about our local ministry. He was amazed at the incredible things God is doing in our ministry. Sitting with a pad of paper and a pen poised, he said, “What’s the secret? What are you guys doing to be so successful?”
“Well, first, it is because of prayer,” I said. He smiled and said, “Yeah, good.” His pen remained poised and he was eager for us to continue.
I stopped him – “No seriously, write that down. That’s it. Yes, we have been obedient and we have good strategies in place, but prayer is the real reason. This is the answer, not just a thing I’m saying.”
Prayer can be challenging. Yeah, it can feel boring. Sometimes it even feels like a waste of time. I promise, though, it is the key to everything.
It is more powerful than the atomic bomb.