Are you really praying?
In ministry, we can hide behind a lot of things. We can hide behind our schedules. We can hide behind our numbers. Last year I realized that I was hiding behind my longevity. As a 15-year youth ministry veteran I got pretty good at doing the business of youth ministry. I could plan, teach, train, and counsel with ease. I got my tasks done and didn’t let things fall through the cracks. On the surface I was looking good, but underneath something was missing. That something was prayer.
In student ministry we pray, but do we REALLY pray? We pray when we are on stage teaching. We pray when we have a meal with students. We pray as we begin and end meetings. We pray with students when we counsel them.
I was praying these prayers, but I wasn’t praying the kinds of prayers that shape my eyes, ears and heart. I wasn’t praying the prayers of joy and desperation when no one is looking. These are prayers that we as leaders need to bathe in if we are going to lead teenagers into an authentic walk with Jesus.
Prayers of my eyes – I realized that I was talking a lot about the greatness of Jesus to my students but I wasn’t stopping to take a look for myself. Prayers of adoration and worship are the fuel for our lives. When was the last time you just spent a few moments resting in the Glory of your Heavenly Father? How long has it been since you allowed yourself to ponder the reasons you still love the God you serve? If it’s been a while, then maybe you need to schedule some time in your week to have your spiritual eyes enlightened.
Prayers of my ears – I realized that I had let myself believe that my experience was enough for my leadership. Instead of listening to God to hear what He would like me to do, I had been reacting based on experience. Wisdom and instinct are important aspects of leadership, but listening to God’s voice is better. I’ll be honest, most of my listening doesn’t result in any mystic revelation. I haven’t heard any audible voices, but when I spend time regularly emptying my agenda and listening for God’s I find that I am less likely to get stuck in a rut when it comes to my ministry.
Prayers of my heart – This is a big one. Our hearts can reveal so much about us. I noticed that my prayers had lacked passion and conviction. I wasn’t praying for students out of desperation. I wasn’t broken over the hurts and pains in my church. I still loved and cared for the teens I was called to minister to, but I felt somewhat detached from them. So I started to ask God for a new heart. I asked God to help me feel what He felt for my students. Over time, there was a difference. I found myself praying passionate prayers for my students, not just on stage, but also behind closed doors and alone in my car. I initiated more prayer with our leaders and challenged them to pray with me.
I’m not a prayer warrior that gets up at 5:30 to pray for an hour, but my prayer life has changed. Because I’m trying to see, hear and feel God more through prayer, I am actually seeing, hearing and feeling God’s presence better and my ministry is better because of it.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LibickHawaiiChristmasPhoto.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Kevin Libick is a Middle School Pastor living in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Kara and her two cats. He is a novice banjo picker and expert Hawaiian food eater. Kevin loves to connect with other youth workers and equip them to live out their calling in God’s Kingdom.[/author_info] [/author]