My struggle to find a mission began several years ago when I was asked to serve as an elder in my local church. As elders, we were encouraged to have a personal mission. This raised several questions for me: What were my talents and abilities? How could they be utilized to help and support others? What did time allow for me to do?
I live alone, work a full-time job, and attend several regular board meetings and other church events. Family activities and school programs for the grandchildren were also a big part of my life. So time was a big consideration when trying to find a personal mission. I was already beginning to feel the stress of having too much to do and not enough time to do it all in. Now I was being asked to add in something more. But that still left the question: what is my mission?
One of my biggest struggles is giving the pastoral prayer at church. I start praying about the prayer as soon as I receive my appointed date to do it. I note prayer requests, concerns, and praises, but when I finally have it all put together, my mind begins to doubt. Is this what I want to say in my prayer? I ask myself. I want to say the right things and in the proper order. I long to sound like those who can get up spontaneously and give beautiful prayers that are not written and read. My desire is to appear professional and intelligent, not weak and confused.
I felt a tremor run through me. Mission? Was she inspired by God to use that particular word?
I am a prayer warrior and find it easy to pray in the privacy of my home, but although I believe that the Lord knows all along what needs to be said on Sabbath morning, public prayer is very stressful for me.
Various individuals have often told me that my prayers are inspiring to them, and how a certain phrase has touched their heart. I am encouraged by their comments—and I always tell them that my prayers come from the Lord, not from me. But I still stressed over my prayers to the point that I was going to have my name dropped from the pastoral prayer list.
After giving what I had planned on being my last pastoral prayer, I arranged to talk after church with the person who sets up the elders’ prayer schedules. Before I could, however, a longtime acquaintance stopped me in the hallway and told me that she is always inspired by and appreciative of my prayers. I knew her well enough to speak candidly, and I shared with her how stressed I had been and that I was going to have my name taken off the schedule.
“Oh, no! Don’t do it!” she said. “Your prayers do not come from your head; they come from your heart. You have a real mission here. Don’t give up that mission.”
I felt a tremor run through me. Mission? She said “mission”not once but twice. Was she inspired by God to use that particular word: mission?
That was what I had been looking for—a mission! But could it really be prayer? Is prayer truly a mission to help and encourage others?
My answer now is yes, absolutely! I realize that God inspires the words used in prayers. And just like words in a sermon, we hear what we need, not necessarily what is said. Or we hear what is spoken with a new application and meaning. And sometimes those God-given words are spoken in casual conversation with someone as well.
Public prayers are outside my comfort zone; however, God often calls us to go outside our comfort zone to help us grow. God’s friends are my friends, and His family is my family. Our bodies are God’s sanctuary. So wherever I am, He is always with me, and I am at home with Him.
Now I give my public prayer times to God, and I am confident that whatever is said in prayer, He is talking to someone, and He will take care of the rest. I am now relaxed in Jesus and let His will work through me. There is no one present but my Friend and me. I can speak with Him as friend to Friend, and I confidently pray to my Friend and Savior wherever I am.
My mission? God had me there all the time.
Thora Bliss writes from Walla Walla, Washington.