Adult Team Blog

How to Pray When You’re Not Good at Praying

With the lights turned off and the blankets tucked right under my ear, I lay my head down on the pillow and get ready to say my nightly prayer. And then . . . crickets.

The pressure to say everything correctly and remember every prayer request weighs me down to the point where sometimes I just close my eyes and go to sleep instead. On the nights when the pressure isn’t quite so heavy, I pray through stilted sentences that feel far too formal. Or I get frustrated that I keep repeating things because I don’t know what else to say.

Prayer shouldn’t be this hard.

If you’re like me, speaking out loud (even in your head) doesn’t come naturally. The pressure to pray correctly becomes a hindrance in your prayer life, and you start to feel distant from God because you don’t know how to communicate.

Let me tell you something: It’s OK. God understands you. He knows you. Don’t get in your own way. Prayer is too important to give up on, especially when it comes to living a missional lifestyle. Everything must start with prayer.

Don’t Get ahead of Yourself

Sometimes I get so far ahead of myself on a project or a task that I forget what the original task was. I skim through the instructions, fail to ask my professor for any tips or guidelines, and dive headfirst into whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing—until I get stuck. Then, frustrated, I am forced to go back, reread, and ask questions, merely to discover I was only about 15% right in the direction I was headed.

Someone once reminded me that if you don’t have time to do it right the first time, what makes you think you’ll have time to redo it later? It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received. Unfortunately I catch myself doing this with the gospel as well. I will set out in hopes of sharing the news of Jesus Christ without first talking with my Teacher and heading His instructions through prayer.

What’s Your Part?

This month, we are praying—I mean really praying—for our part in God’s great mission. I’m pressing in to see my part more clearly. What about you? What’s your part?

For most churches, the fall kicks off a new year. It is a good time to pray about new things—new opportunities, new relationships, new routines, new challenges. What is new for you? Could it be that God has something new in mind? I love Isaiah 43:19. God is a “doing-a-new-thing” kind of God. He is able to do more than we can imagine (Eph. 3:20–21). I suppose that’s why, in my life anyway, He usually shows 1 step at a time. It is always new, always fresh.

Divine Flavor in an Ordinary World

I looked over and saw her, sitting at the table, eyes glued to her computer screen and focused on what she was working on.

I felt that nudge inside to talk to her, but I was doing my best to talk myself out of it. “She looks busy,” I thought. “And how would I start a conversation?”

I sat in that coffee shop, knowing that I wanted to share the gospel with this girl and take an ordinary conversation and make it a divine one. Then I remembered what I had talked with a friend about a few days earlier. She had suggested interviewing people as a way to start conversations.

I grabbed my pen and notebook, wrote down a few questions, walked over to the table, and began talking to the girl, who introduced herself as Leela*.

The conversation felt so natural, and it brought me joy being able to get to know her story. As it turns out, Leela became a believer in college.

One conversation led to another and another, and now I’d consider Leela one of my best friends in South Asia.

Praying for the Masses: Do I see refugees with Jesus’ eyes?

She came across the border with only the clothes on her back and several small children. Her husband had remained behind to fight ISIS and protect what was left of their home. At least, she hoped he was still there protecting their home, because she had not heard from him in over a year. Now she sat across from me at our English as a second language class looking tired and confused. How could I explain the basics of our lesson without knowing her language? How would I ever reach her with the gospel?

Could this woman have been one of the thousands of refugees crossing into Europe? When I watched them on TV, my thoughts were not so wholesome or Christian. You know the saying “Can’t see the trees for the forest”? Sometimes we can’t see the refugees for the media. Our views and eyes lose focus when we look at things through the lens of this world and not through the eyes of the Spirit.

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Starting Over: Refugees Must Submit to a Thorough Vetting Process prior to Resettlement in the United States

In one country, a family lives in a city under siege. Gunshots and daily explosions rock the neighborhood. Children cannot play outside nor can adults go safely to work. Food and water are scarce. Escape is the only option. In another country, a young woman professes Christ and immediately becomes a target of the local police. It is illegal to profess any religion other than Islam. Her family shuns her, leaving her isolated and unprotected. If she stays, then she will surely be killed. She too must escape to survive.

The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that worldwide, some 21 million people, half of them children, are refugees—individuals driven from their homes to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. A very small number of these individuals (less than 1%) will receive the opportunity to start a new life in a third country after leaving their homeland.

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Refugees in Our Midst: Wars, Natural Disasters, Hunger, and Persecution Produce Refugees

More than 65 million displaced people, including 21 million refugees, fled their home countries in 2015, according to the Migration Policy Institute. In 2016, nearly 85,000 refugees resettled in the United States. They came from Syria, the Near East, South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other places worldwide. Consider the countries where our missionaries are serving. Many of those, such as Ukraine, are flooded with refugees, forcing missionaries to revisit strategies and form new avenues of ministry and evangelism. The sheer numbers are overwhelming. What are citizens of receiving countries supposed to do?

If we flashed back to biblical days, both Old and New Testaments, we would read of refugees from countries such as Egypt, Moab, Babylon, and others. Perhaps one of the greatest movements of refugees in history was Moses’ leading the Israelites out of the land of Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land. Whether the plights of refugees existed more than 2,000 years ago or today, the Bible has some very specific words for those who find refugees in their midst.

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By All Means Changes Lives

“El Salvador will never be the same,” said one of our church members when she saw who had decided to go. While I can’t say that is true of the country, it is certainly true for those of us preparing to go. As of this writing, a dozen men and women are preparing for our church’s first international missions trip. Six of the 7 women in the group are members of our Martha Robinson Baptist Women, and some have never been outside the United States. As we prepare to step out of our comfort zones to change lives in El Salvador, changes within our lives and the life of our church began months ago.

Personally, I began working with our Wednesday night children’s ministry, at first serving food but soon joining in teaching first- and second-graders. Others joined in as well. Several children have received Christ as Savior and their families are starting to attend on Sunday morning.

Celebrate, Evaluate, and Look Ahead

For many small churches, WMU and Women on Mission or Baptist Women are synonymous. Perhaps 1 or 2 groups of women of various ages meet monthly to learn about missions, pray for missionaries, and develop a missions project. The pattern rarely changes.

Instead of doing the same thing with your adult missions group, celebrate what worked, evaluate what didn’t, and enter the new church year ready to pray, learn, support, and develop a missions lifestyle.

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Building the Kingdom One Friendship at a Time

The phrase “hustle and bustle” used to apply to the hurriedness of the holiday season, but for many, it now applies to everyday life. As we add just one more thing to our to-do list, we often let time spent building relationships fall to the wayside. However, meeting new people and building relationships should be an intentional part of life for every believer.

Consider how you can change ordinary activities into ones that build the kingdom of God. Sporting events, especially those our children participate in, offer opportunities to share life with others. If you sit in the same seats, seeing the same people each game, why not engage in conversation? Listen intentionally, ask questions, and you will be amazed what you might learn.

Home-cooked goodies are a way to get to know your neighbors. A recent television commercial depicts a young family treating its neighbors to a weekend pancake breakfast. Who could you invite?

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