Arranging The Wood
It is kind of ‘old fashioned’ to learn anything by rote these days. Memorisation of times tables has fallen out of favour in education. Gone are the days when classes of bored youngsters would recite for example, ‘7 ones are 7, 7 twos are 14, 7 threes are 21, etc.’ in their sing-song chants. Recently, however, in our women’s ministry over the period of five weeks we revived the concept of teaching a memory verse, repeating the text with a slide of the complete verse and then another with key words missing. You get the idea!
Our choice of text was 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18: “Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
I decided to meditate on this verse, considering how it might apply to me in ministry and mentoring. I listened to three different sermons on the text (praise God for You Tube!).
I found one sermon particularly helpful. The speaker described this text as containing some of the markers of a Spirit-filled life – the kind of life we wish to exemplify as mentors and the kind of life we wish our mentees to aspire to.
The capability to ‘rejoice always’ and ‘give thanks in all circumstances’, as the Thessalonians did amidst persecution, bereavement, trials and temptations, is only possible if we recognise what has been done for us and is being done in us ‘…in Christ Jesus’ (v.18). But, what about the imperative to ‘…pray continually’?
It struck me as I listened to the sermon that one of our key roles as mentors is to pray for our mentees – both when they are with us and when they are not; and to encourage them to live a life of God-dependant, Spirit-filled prayer. People usually either feel guilty about their prayerlessness or self-righteous about their legalistic discipline of prayer. What Paul is encouraging here in Thessalonians is a prayerful life; about communication that is as natural as that of close human relationships, when sometimes even a glance is enough!
Trying to mentor without prayer is like trying to fly a kite when there is no wind.
In order to see the importance of prayer in mentoring let us ask 3 key questions:
- As we mentor, what are we up against? Paul says in Ephesians 6.12 that we are wrestling, (a fairly strenuous activity), against principalities and powers; against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We need to pray in all circumstances.
- As we mentor, what is our ultimate goal? We want to see lives transformed by the Holy Spirit (Rom 12.2). We need to pray in all circumstances.
- As we mentor, how can our goals be met? It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (Jn 15.5). We need to pray in all circumstances.
Are you familiar with the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs 18)? Elijah arranged the wood on the altar (v.33), but nothing happened until Elijah stepped forward (vv36-38) and called upon the Lord in prayer. It was only then that the fire fell from heaven (v38) and the people came to recognise who the Lord really is (v.39) and were transformed. We need to pray in all circumstances.
Here is my challenge to you – when you mentor are you faithfully just ‘arranging the wood’, or are you calling on the Spirit of God to do life transforming work in you and your mentee? We need to pray in all circumstances.