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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


A God Moment; A Request for Advice from More Experienced Clergy 

The light was dim in the chapel, as it always is for Wednesday night services. Fr. Kalisa, a guest preacher from Rwanda had just sat down after delivering his meditation and the room was quiet as we began to silently reflect. Sometimes I use this time to reflect on the Gospel or what the preacher had just said. Sometimes I use this time to reflect on my week or maybe the week ahead. As I was finishing my meditation I suddenly felt the voice of God speaking to me. God said, "Someone needs prayer tonight." I felt it. I had a vision: I saw the youth group meeting room and I saw us standing together in a circle, holding hands and praying. I saw myself moving around the room, laying hands on each of them to pray for them and hoping to find the one whom God had said needed prayer. The meditation time was over and I opened my eyes.

At the end of the youth group meeting, we all stood and held hands to pray. Some wanted to say the Aaronic Benediction, which has been a tradition of theirs from the past. We said that. I remember my vision but I thought, I'll just freak them out if I do that. So I said, as they were gathering their things, the "Amen!" having already been declared, "Anyone who wants to stay after for extra prayer may do so." I heard over my shoulder one sibling tell another, "I'm going to stay." And like that, they headed to the other room, which I have used for one-on-one prayer or counseling. That person was the one who really needed prayer, who really needed a shoulder to cry on, who really needed someone to listen, who really needed some comfort. I hope God could use me, a broken vessel, to provide what was needed. We talked and prayed for a while.

After it was over, and everyone had gone home, I walked over to my house. I took off my collar and I sat on the couch and turned on the TV. I was emotionally spent and physically exhausted. But still, I felt guilty. I felt guilty that I didn't think or pray more for that person. That I didn't consider their pain further.

How do you, more experienced clergy, deal with this? Do you feel this guilt? Is it ok to let go of it after you have prayed with the person or should I have prayed more. I will remember them in my night prayers, but I wonder if could/should do more. Sages, come on out of the woodwork to help a neophyte.

-R

3 Comments:

Clearly, one extra year a sage does not make.But... no one ever accused me of keeping opinions to myself either :)

So, two thoughts for you. It sounds to me like guilt in this case is more a byproduct of not quite feeling confident in your shoes yet - I've definitely been there a bunch in the last year or so. Which means that its about you, and you probably did well by the young person.

And second... anyone who is that tuned in to God's voice can't be doing so bad. Sometimes a little time is all it takes. You can always talk and pray again if the Spirit moves either of you. Good job, Father Ryan!

By Blogger Susie, at 10:40 AM  


Another "short tenure" here; but for what it's worth...

I think Susie's right. It sounds as though you answered the call of your vision, finding the one who needed prayer and holding him/her before God as you were able.

So of course you were exhausted. When one offers to be used by God, God tends to take the offer seriously-- and that's hard work. And perhaps that's also part of where any feelings of inadequacy originated.

Learning when to then set aside the concerns you have held up in prayer, rather than letting them take over your own mind and spirit, is not always an easy process (and one I do not have mastered, either!). However, it is utterly vital if we are to effectively serve the folks entrusted to our care. Boundaries are our friends.

So pray, brother, and perhaps check back after a time with the person in question; but do not feel guilty about leaving the rest of it in God's hands. That's the Boss' job, you know.

By Blogger Jane Ellen+, at 10:23 PM  


Uninvited comment from lay person follows:

Ryan, Marjorie Suchocki, in her "In God's Presence," speaks of the need to 'release' prayer. Although the book is skinny, the contents are not.

She makes the most convincing cases for what prayer is about and how it works that I have come across in a lifetime of looking for those answers.

It's a delight to read of your enthusiasm in your position, and you are in my prayers.

By Blogger Jim, at 10:19 PM  


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