One of the things that I love to do is lead music at our church. I play guitar, work with a band and singers, and organize the songs that we sing on Sunday mornings. Recently, though, something hit me as I was preparing to lead music.

I was working through our set list and I was stuck on a transition between two songs. There was some problem with the key or with the tempo that just didn’t seem to work with the flow. So I did what I always do. I decided to pray as a transition.

Then it hit me…

I was using prayer, conversation with God, as a transitional/musical element within a time of praise and adoration. I was taking the privilege of speaking with the Creator and reducing it to a substitution for creative arranging.

That has stuck with me and I’m not sure I have a good response to it. However, it has challenged me with several different questions.

1) Is it appropriate to use prayer transitionally during “worship?”
2) When we pray transitionally are we setting appropriate examples?
3) What does this reveal about my own prayer life?

For all you worship leaders out there, what do you do?

For everyone else, I welcome your comments!

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Today I finished my tenure at Decatur Middle School, where I taught general music for nine years. I love my job! I love the relationships that have been developed with the staff. Over this period of time I have also come to realize that I love middle school students too.

What does one accumulate in nine years? A bunch of junk! However, I’m good!!! I fit it all into 7 boxes. I get home, rather proud of my 7 boxes, and tell my wife. What was her response? “So where do we put seven boxes?” Go figure, I just can’t win.

What do I do next? Honestly, I don’t know.

Fortunately, I do have a job at an elementary school but I’m not sure if I have the same passion for that age group. I anticipate trying to find another job as either a music teacher or working with a church in youth or music ministry.

Please pray for me in this time of transition.

Played hide-n-seek with my family tonight. It’s pretty fun trying to find hiding places in a small house with a 3-year old and two adults. I did get stuck in a small spot behind our rocking chair – not cool! Our daughter may stump us yet! She keeps getting quieter and quieter as she hides. Sort of frightening if you think about it!

As my wife and I were praying with our daughter before bed I was reminded that God doesn’t play hide-n-seek with us. In everything from creation to the revelation of His son, Jesus Christ, God is revealed. He even tells us to call on him in prayer and he will hear and answer us. And, on top of that, there is no place we can go to hide from him.

That’s pretty comforting if you’ll stop and let yourself think about it.

So stop and think about it…

Here is a prayer walk we did recently with our youth. Feel free to use it, modify it, or even suggest changes!

Go sit out in the parking lot
– What does a parking lot represent? It can represent visitors or new people, regular attenders, a place to park your car (the closer the better), or even a place to come hang out. From our parking lot you can see the main road passing by our church. How many people drive by who know someone from the church? Of the people that drive by, how many know and are walking with Jesus? How many will never come to church? Why?

Pray for the people in our church, by name if possible. If you have visitor parking find it and pray for the people we will have the opportunity to reach. Does your pastor have a normal parking spot? Go to that spot and pray for him.

Go to the stage or platform where your weekly services happen
– This represents the worship and the Word. On this stage, weekly, the leaders present God’s Word in song and preach the Scriptures faithfully. Go stand where the worship leader normally stands. Look at the church or congregation from his view. Do you know how much time goes into preparing the worship and the Word weekly? Go stand in front of the pulpit and see what the pastor sees on a weekly basis. Can you picture where any of our people sit? Look up into the upper room. That is where all of our sound and media preparation takes place.

Pray that the Word would be taught clearly. Pray that people would respond to the gospel. Pray that our worship would be pure. Pray for the people that prepare the weekly services.

Go to our missions/missionary hall in the back of the church
– This is where our church highlights all of the different missions organizations and missionaries that we support. We support people and places that are from the church, local, national, and international. We have some ministries that have started from our church because people saw a need and wanted to meet it. We have also sent many of our own adults and youth around the world on mission trips. All of the financial support we give is separate from the church budget. It comes from people who have taken the initiative to give above and beyond what they normally would. Look at the board and see who we support and what they do. On the map, find the countries where they serve.

Pray for our missionaries by name and by country. In particular, find something that catches your interest and pray for it. Pray that more missionaries would be sent out from our church. Pray and ask God what your mission field is.

Go to the playground – This is where our children play. This is where we play (although we probably shouldn’t). The children are the future youth, the future spiritual leaders of our church. You as the youth, need to set good examples for them. You need to build relationships with them now and be friendly. They are watching you in everything you do (and don’t do). Think about all the children’s helpers. Some of you do that! Picture how difficult it must be at times. Think about what a great joy it is to be able to do that.

Pray for our children. They are the future youth ministry. Pray for our children’s workers. Pray that our children would hear the gospel clearly and respond. Pray that families would be changed as a result of our children’s ministry. Pray for our children’s director and her staff. Thank God that we have so many children and families in our church.

Go to Grace mountain (Grace mountain is a big hill outside of our church. It makes a great sledding hill and slip-n-slide. It also gives a great view of the surrounding area.) – If you look to the back side of the church you can see the 20 acres that our church recently purchased. Off to the west you can see the other property next to us that has been for sale and vacant for a couple of years. Look at all the subdivisions that surround our church. We are strategically positioned for maximum influence. What could this mountain be in 5 years? Will it be a youth wing expansion? Could we have that kind of influence in our community? What if each one of you reached two friends this year? One time while Jesus was talking to his followers he said that the fields around them were ripe for harvest. The fields were a metaphor for people. I would echo Jesus’ words. The fields around us are ripe for harvest. You have the best opportunities to influence your friends. You have a much great influence than any of our youth workers ever will. What will you do about it?

Pray for the future of GEC. Pray for our building expansion. We own all of this property for God. Pray for kingdom expansion, that we would reach people for God. Thank God for all the things He has given us. Ask God what part you will play in all of this.

Where will you find the best representation of sin on our church property?
– Answers may vary but some of ours were in the parking lot (trashy), the retention pond out front, the toilet, or even ourselves. One person suggested the cross where Jesus took the sin of the world on Himself.

Where will you find the best representation of grace on our church property? – Answers, again, may vary but most of our youth agreed that it was represented by the cross where Jesus died to take the punishment for our sin. We didn’t deserve what Jesus did but He did it anyway to satisfy God’s wrath (among other things).

Ask God to show you the things that you need to confess to Him. Is there anyone you need to ask forgiveness from? Is there any stubbornness, pride, or anger you need to deal with? Are there relationships that you need to fix? Take this time in the quietness and darkness, at the foot of the cross, to offer up your sin and thank God for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Several days ago I shared about the youth ministry at, Grace Evangelical Church, where I serve as the part-time youth director.

In that post I shared that we were committed to being:
B.iblical
A.uthentic
R.elational
B.alanced

The things we are committed to provide a framework for evaluating whether or not what we are doing is on track.

The other night I attempted to recast the vision with our youth group using four other words:

People – Relationships matter to us. People are a priority, whoever they are and whatever they’ve done. We must love people where they are and for who they are.

Prayer – We have to depend on God through prayer. We must be committed to a relationship with God. We can’t accomplish things apart from relying on Him. The cause is too great and the time is too short to settle for less!

Preaching – We must be committed to the Word of God. We should be faithfully teaching and explaining it. We must be reading it, memorizing it, sharing it, and using it!!!

Purity – We have to be willing to confess sin and learn to walk in holiness. We have to learn to submit and become obedient to what God asks of us. We must have “clean hands” and “pure hearts.” We must be quick to forgive others and restore bridges that have been torn down.

The camping trips, road trips, ice cream nights, backyard barbecues, basketball games, the choir concerts, the wrestling meets, the outreach events, the fun games, you name it…

They all mean little if the heart of God is not formed in our youth. My heart is heavy with a burden for these things! Do we accomplish what we set out to do?

This is what I’m committed to.

This is a scavenger hunt that we’ve done in that past on prayer. Please feel free to use this or tweak it to suit you. We usually use this with our youth while they are at church but with a few adjustments you could probably use this to recharge your own personal prayers as well.

Find a rock and read 2 Samuel 22:2-4 (Pray that God would build His church

Find a light outside and read Matthew 4:14-16 (Pray that we would be outreach oriented and bold with our actions)

Go to the children’s wing or nursery and read Matthew 19:14 (Pray for the future generations)

Find a pastor’s office/car
and read Isaiah 55:8-11 (Pray for the pastors)

Go to the front doors of the church and read Revelation 3:20 (Pray for people who come in and out of these doors)

Find a patch of growing grass
and read Matthew 13:3-9 (Pray that God’s Word would fall on good soil)

Go stand at the entrance into the parking lots (do not get hit!) and read John 14:6 (Pray that people would come to the life changing knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ)

Go to the work shed/garage and read Matthew 9:37,38 (Pray that more workers would be raised up)

Find a big hill overlooking a cornfield (can you tell we’re in the Midwest?) and read Matthew 28:18-20 (Pray for the lost and growing)

Go to one of the corners of the church and read Isaiah 28:16 (Pray that God would establish our church/His church in the community)

So my wife and I are teaching our 3-year old daughter how to pray…

I don’t know how many of you have been through this with a child of your own but this has to be one of the most precious times in parenting. There are times that I think that it doesn’t get any better than this.

Randomly, our daughter will go off into the other room when she hears that daddy has had a rough day. Curiously, we wait to see what happens next. She begins praying, out loud, for daddy and the things that have caused me (daddy) frustration.

She remembers to pray for things and people that I wouldn’t think twice about.

I remember praying for her as a little girl, early in the mornings, as I rocked her back to sleep. What an amazing thing to see her now praying for others. I treasure the time I get to pray with and for her.

At the dinner table she will pray for the food and for other family members. Taking her cue from a relative, who is also learning to pray, she recently began to name every item of food and drink on the table. She takes so long she forgets to pray for people. To help her along we have been trying to guide her by suggesting people she could pray for.

Tonight she forgot to pray for people again. As soon as she said “amen” I asked her to pray for specific people. To the surprise of my wife and I she started her prayer again and finished by saying, and I quote;

“Dear God, thank-you for supicic (specific) people. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

It doesn’t get any better than this!