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There is much to prepare before I head off with Son #1 and the rest of our junior high youth group. Packing, getting the house if order, writing out the schedule for the other two kids while they stay home with Dad, are just a few. But the most important preparation is one that works no matter the ministry--prayer.
As I pack my clothes, I ask God to clothe these kids with righteousness. I pray He outfits them in the wardrobe He sees best for each one. I pray they learn to put on the full armor of God.
As I pack enough junk food to put down an elephant, and throw in a few healthy alternatives, I beseech Him to fill them with spiritual nourishment during the next four days. I pray they hunger for His word and to do His will, while at conference and beyond.
As I pack my coach's t-shirt, I pray for a spirit of unity among our group and for the students to always come out on top in the battles set before them, on and off the court. I pray that they will be good sportsmen in life, as well as in the games. I pray victory for their lives and futures. I pray the competitions will wear them out just enough that they can sit still and focus on the message.
As I pack supplies for them to decorate their doors, I pray these students embrace their individuality and that they radiate a joy and peace from the inside, not just look good on the outside.
As I pack my camera, I pray that they will capture their own "snapshots"--those memories of special moments with friends and times when they knew God spoke just to them or felt real.
As I pack the Visine, because I always need it, I pray their eyes will be opened to the truth of the gospel. I pray for any who have not yet made commitments to have the scales removed from their eyes.
As I pack my bedding, I pray they are covered by a blanket of protection. I pray against injury and attacks from the enemy, especially in the forms of distractions, temptations, and fatigue.
I'm preparing by praying. I'm praying for relationships to be cemented, lives to be surrendered, and eternity impacted all in the span of four days. And God always answers.
Prayer needs to be applied to every ministry. Do you pray before you write? Do you pray while you write? Do you pray your reader might find freedom through a character's arc? Do you pray that God might use your fiction to impart His truth in the life of someone? Do you pray that relationships might be mended, lives surrendered, and eternity impacted in the span of 200-and-some pages?
If you, do, remember that God always answers. If you don't, why not start today? Because prayer prepares the soil of ministry.
Nikki Studebaker Barcus