Occasionally, I teach a Bible study class at First Baptist Church of Marion. Every time I teach this class, I am blessed by the leadership of Mr. Z. Mr. Z opens the class with announcements and prayer. It takes him maybe five minutes; impressive on its own, by the way, since many Baptists have been known to stretch this task out to fill up the entire Bible study hour.
I’ve been teaching there for the last three weeks and have one more Sunday to go in this study. Two weeks ago, our numbers were low–folks out of town, threat of ice and snow, and such–but this past week the class was alive with energy and enthusiasm as members welcomed each other back into the fold. Mr. Z stood behind the podium, looked around at the room full of joy, them looked over at me sitting on the front row.
“Listen to that,” he told me, his expression peaceful, but radiant. “Isn’t that a joyful noise. I hate to ask them to stop, it sounds so good.”
The class quickly quieted, as they always do when Mr Z stands. He welcomed them, got updates on prayer concerns, and made a few class announcements.
“Well,” he said, moving right along, “If there’s nothing else, then, I’ll open us up with prayer and turn it over to Aileen.”
Mr. Z has prepared for this moment, his prayer written in longhand on a slip of paper larger than a bookmark but smaller than a legal-sized envelope. He bows his head and begins. As he prays, I feel the Spirit fill the room. His heartfelt, divinely inspired words speak to local concerns, global issues, and the church universal. It’s beautiful.
But that’s not all. When Mr. Z prays,his words reach into my soul, touching the tender parts of my heart, the vulnerable places that yearn for understanding, hope, and grace. When Mr. Z prays, I get to know God better. And that makes me so grateful.