At the close of my talk, I bowed to pray as usual. I thought I felt the Lord tug me and go, “The students need to pray.” I had already started with the typical “Dear Lord,” however. There was a beat… then I just said, “Why don’t one or two of you pray and I’ll wrap it up.”
There was a period of like 15 seconds of silence that seemed like an eternity. “No one is freakin’ gonna pray!” I thought. “I must have misread the Lord on that one!” I felt like they had been on board with the talk, and it was one of those evenings I’d walk away knowing God said exactly what He needed to. And I’d had fun. But now I sat in silence, waiting for 2 junior highers out of almost 200 to pray.
You get caught in that internal tug-o-war thinking, “Do I just step out and pray?! Or do I let this silence build so that it’s really awkard? How long should I wait? Why aren’t they praying?? Lord, did I mis-hear your instruction? What am I gonna eat for dessert tonight?” You know, the usual thoughts.
And then a 8th grade boy voice says, “Dear God…” and my heart leaps. Who cares about freakin’ dessert!!?? We got a PRAY-ER here! And so we’re in. We got ONE. I’m thinking, “Okay, I’ll wrap this up after this SAINT of a junior higher and get off stage and we’ll move along to something more suited for junior high ministry. Like, uh… seeing how many bananas you can cram in your friend’s mouth at once.
But 8th grade boy voice is followed quickly by 7th grade girl voice. Hers is followed immediately by another. And another. Suddenly a junior high PRAYFEST was breaking out and a couple dozen students prayed out to their God. They prayed for each other. They prayed for themselves. And I started to cry.
I’ll tuck this night away in my memories. I’ll pull it out next time a kid talks all the way through worship or some kid is distracting 6 others during the message. It feels like we lose a little battle on those nights.
But this week, Jesus won in a big way.