Earlier this summer, I had the privilege to participate in a one week mission trip to western Pennsylvania to assist in building ramps for folks in need. A dear friend who has a heart for these type of adventures encouraged me to join him this year. My calendar was clear, the distance geographically was not a bridge too far, so I thought “why not?”, there would be much to learn! You see, construction skills are not something that come naturally to me. Building ramps had the potential to perhaps expand my “Handyman” capabilities around the house. Maybe, even increase my courage to tackle some of the more difficult “honey do” items around the house.

So I signed up with the great expectations of learning a new skill. Little did I know, however, that they were running short of team leaders to guide the crews of young people who would be building the ramps. So, shortly before the trip, you guessed it, I learned that I would also be learning the skills of being a team leader! While I’ve led teams before, I generally had some level of experience with the subject to be addressed. Not so here! This was going to be a greater adventure than originally envisioned. Fortunately, I soon discovered that my team was comprised of several young people who were well equipped veterans from prior years. They would be the experts, and I would be the learner.

The mission trip was sponsored by the GCYM; the Geauga Christian Youth Mission. For more than 25 years, these highly dedicated men and women who lead the mission, have purposed to help youth learn the joy of serving others in need as well as to grow spiritually in their walk with Christ. Many of the adults attending are veterans of many trips over the years. Sleeping on the floors of churches is not for the faint of heart, nor perhaps is the 90 degree heat and high humidity of building ramps in the sun. But their dedication and commitment to spend time working beside young people is greatly to be admired. Investing in the lives of youth who are growing and developing their identity in Christ as they serve others. That’s a great opportunity…..an opportunity where spiritual conversations can take place.

One of those spiritual conversions took place for my team during lunch early in the week. Dining at the job site entailed “sandwich dujour” prepared prior to our departure from the church.  We would break around noon ready for a rest break as well as some discussion time. With the purpose of encouraging others to join me in praying that week, I asked if there was anyone who would like to give thanks for our meal. After a period of awkward silence, one of the young ladies stated, “But I don’t know how to pray.” Her heart felt and sincere statement placed her in good company. Everyone can relate to those feelings when it comes to prayer. Even one of the disciples of Jesus asked our Lord to teach the disciples how to pray. (Luke 11:1-4) Yes, prayer is something that we learn how to do. How to have a conversation with God. The Creator of heaven and earth.

Learning how to go about a conversation with God can be daunting, whether in public or in private. Where do we begin? Jesus response to his disciple was to teach them what has become known today as the “Lord’s Prayer”.   A great place to start. While many of us may have learned the Lord’s prayer in church, it’s a prayer we can enjoy each day of the week.   But what else can we do? Well, first the Lord has given us a book, the Bible, to teach us how to have a relationship with Him. To know Him and how to live in accordance with His plan for our lives. We learn about prayer in the Bible. We can pray God’s Word in praise to Him, in prayer for others and in prayer for ourselves. Secondly, we learn about prayer from others. Family, mentors, and friends.  It should be as natural and as common as daily meals, chores, celebrations and trials. Prayer is integral to the web and weave of life for the Christian. A vibrant relationship with God presupposes that we communicate regularly with Him. We talk with Him in prayer and God communicates with us through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

In future posts, we will spend more time discussing the subject of prayer. But let me encourage you today to start praying the greatest commandment.  (Matthew 22:37-38)  Pray it for your spouse, your children and “yes”, even yourself. This is God’s greatest command and desire for our lives. There is priority in prayer and this prayer should be near the top of that list.

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