Spiritual Discipline // PRAYER
Almost a decade ago, just after my husband and I accepted our first senior pastorate in Cottage Grove, I became a children’s pastor for the first time. In that season, I discovered within myself a deep desire to infuse creativity and drama into our Sunday morning children’s ministry. I began writing a curriculum based on “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” by C.S. Lewis. Volunteers came out of the woodworks to donate fur coats, custom artwork, and their personal time and skills. We transformed our kids classroom into a frosty wood complete with lamp post, beaver house and wardrobe entrance. For months, I had cast vision, developed the curriculum, trained teachers and planned the transformation of Room 5 into the land of Narnia. But at the 11th hour, just days before we were to launch, I met strong opposition.
As a young leader, I wasn’t terribly sure of myself. Though the curriculum I had written was filled with scripture and biblical truth, a woman in our church was strongly opposed to using any literature besides the Bible. She was someone who had taught kids for years, a person whom I looked up to quite a bit. I’ll never forget how difficult it was to absorb her disapproval and hold fast to the vision I felt God had given me.
In similar fashion Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem the Arab brought opposition to the plans Nehemiah had prayerfully made to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:19). Their opposition could have thrown Nehemiah off his game, but the prayers he had prayed were part of a sustaining force that girded him up in courage. Prayer was a pillar.
Read: Psalm 27
Throughout the book of Psalms, David wears his heart on his sleeve, giving us a glimpse of how a praying man handles the mighty opposition of all sorts of enemies. (Sometimes the enemy is actually himself!) Similar to Nehemiah, David’s prayer life is a constant anchor amidst the choppy storms of distress and anguish caused by enemy activity in his life.
Let me be vulnerable for a moment. When I experienced opposition to my Narnia unit, I did not have this anchor. I was completely convinced that God was indeed leading me, but I had not done the hard work of praying into and over the vision. I’m a worker. I make detailed lists and work hard until every item is crossed off. As a result, I trembled in fear as I was confronted with opposition. In that moment, my prayer came on a breath, similar to Nehemiah’s prayer in Neh. 2:4. How different that conversation would have been if I had been more engaged with the spiritual discipline of prayer!
Oswald Chambers said:
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work. Prayer IS the greater work.”
If you’re anything like me, you know how easy it is to get caught up in the work of checking off boxes, leaving the greater work of prayer behind. Let’s take a lesson from David and Nehemiah and gird our lives in the greater work of prayer on the front end so that when opposition comes, we are anchored to God’s hand in our lives.
- Reflect on a time when you encountered opposition. How would prayer have prepared you to respond in a Christ-like manner?
- Where are you experiencing opposition in your life right now? Pray into it. Declare the Lord as your light and salvation and invite the strength of the Holy Spirit to sustain you.
- Take a few minutes and pray for the pastors and staff of New Hope. They are on the front line, leading in turbulent times. Pray protection and encouragement over them as they are confronted with consistent and discouraging opposition.
- Isaac (Senior Pastor)
- Chris (Associate Pastor)
- James (Worship/Facilities)
- Trish (Youth/Pantry)
- Donia (Children’s Pastor)
- Jennifer (Children’s Admin.)
- Andrea (Stephens Ministry)
- George (Assisting Pastor)
- Reuben (Sports/Outreach)
- Chris Chance (Financial Admin.)
- AnnaMae (Financial Admin.)
- Marylin (Admin.)