I love being in vocational ministry. That sounds really uptight. I love that my job each day is to go work for a church and spend my time figuring out how to bless volunteers and teach kids that the best friend they could ever, ever have is Jesus. But one thing I have noticed since I officially became a part of the ministry is that I feel more under attack. You may not believe in spiritual attack. I am not trying to convince you it’s real. I am telling you I have felt more mental attacks in my life since I dedicated it to facilitating relationships between Jesus and the little ones.
What does this look like? I am sure each person has seen spiritual attacks in different ways. For me, it has come in the form of mental lies. These are truths I have believed in for years, that I haven’t struggled with at all, that are now sneaking their way into my brain. I don’t know how they get there (actually yes, yes I do) but I’ve had tough days of struggling in real ways with the truths of God. I know it’s not cool and spiritual to say that. But I sometimes feel we need to hear the uncool to know that we are not alone in our trials (because honestly, aside from lies, evil’s other tactic is alienation and making people feel alone.).
A couple of weeks ago, I went to San Diego for a ministry conference. I came away with some great ideas for ministry and renewal in so many ways. Particularly, though, I had a true moment of renewal I want to share.
On the last evening of the conference, we were being led in worship and those lies I mentioned started back in my head. I was so, so sick of it that I did what I should have done in the first place. I stopped praising and in my head (and maybe out loud whispering) I said, “Jesus, I pray that only truth would live in me and you would clear my mind of anything that isn’t true and that isn’t from you. I believe in your truth and I know when I ask you to dwell in my mind, you will. Please clear out any lies.” I felt pretty instantly better. I was able to praise and I didn’t feel all this conflict in my mind.
The topic this particular night was on praying for the international children’s ministries. Larry Fowler gave a great message on prayer and I am feeling his passion. I am in it. Scribbling notes as fast as my bright pink, felt tip pen will write.
We get to the end and he says that a message on prayer wouldn’t be complete without praying. Great! I love prayer! So he asks all those in ministry outside the states to stand up so we can gather round and pray for them. I see one of my favorite speakers standing next to me. A bunch of international pastors are near me and Beth Guckenberger, a missionary I admire, is near me with her team from Mexico. I am thinking, “this is sweet! I get to end this day by praying for Beth and her team! Awesome! She’s on my prayer list and to think I can pray over her in person. So cool!”
Well, the guy leading prayers looks around, decides there aren’t enough people standing so he says, “I am going to add one more category of people so we can all pray over some more in our midst. If you have been in children’s ministry…”
In my head, he’s about to say something about people who have been in ministry a long time and I am getting pumped to pray for those in our midst who maybe are feeling burnout and my mind is racing. I’m excited. That’s not what he says.
“…for less than nine months. If you have been in ministry nine months or less, please stand so we can pray over you.” I start counting on my hands. Eight and a half. I look at my coworker. She prompts me to stand.
I don’t want to stand. I don’t want to be humbled in front of all these people and admit I need help. I want to go pray for Beth. Or someone who might really need it. Or anyone really. But that’s not what was supposed to happen. I stood and mumbled something about barely making the cutoff. Before I can get all the way out of my seat, I am completely surrounded by people. All sides. My coworker is to my right and lays her hands on me. I have hands all over me and the woman right in front of me introduces herself and asks if she can pray for me. Sure. That’s why we’re here, right? No backing out now.
She starts to pray for me. I can’t tell you all she asked. But what I do remember is she asked God to strengthen me. To provide me with young people to stand next to me and support me. To provide me with older, wiser people to mentor me and lead me. And to give me courage and strength to keep going. And I am crying just writing this. But to live it, I felt the tears falling onto the ugly conference room carpet at my feet. I felt so humbled, so vulnerable, and so filled.
It’s as if, at that moment, God was saying to me, “You asked me to comfort and fill you. You needed prayer. And I am your Father and give you all good things. So instead of just holding you close on my own, I am giving you dozens of people to come pray on your behalf.” I would say it was too much but really it was just enough. We concluded and I was swarmed with hugs and hand clasps as I tried to not look like a human waterfall. God had answered my prayers. He was just waiting for me to ask.
There were so many good things at that conference but few things compare to God answering your prayers in an almost audible way.
If you are struggling with something in your mind that you know is not Truth, would you please pray and command God to take it? I am praying for you right now. Evil only has the power we give it. We know who wins. Let’s let him win in our lives as well. We have lots of tools in this life but few as powerful and action-filled as prayer. We don’t think of prayer as action sometimes. But it is. Such a powerful action to surrender and ask our God, our Father, to act on our behalf.
You all should also know that the Crossing Kids team takes time to pray each week for those in our ministry and for each other. If you have anything in your life, your family, or your ministry you’d like us to pray for, please comment or email us. We are called to bear each others’ burdens. We want to do that for you.
Thanks for being the fellow young and old standing next to me. We need each other to fight this battle, no matter what our battle looks like. I am praying for your battle today. We are more than conquerers in Christ Jesus.