The Preacher’s Work Week – Part 4

Wednesday night prayer meeting

I Thessalonians 5:17

Wednesday night in our little country churches was hit-and-miss.  My dad used to say, “On Sunday morning, you can tell how popular the preacher is. On Sunday night, you can tell how popular the church is. On Wednesday night, you can tell how popular God is.”  The truly faithful, die-hard members of the congregation would gather for prayer meeting and missions activities.

My father was very intentional about prayer meeting being just that…prayer.  He might give a short, five-minute exhortation on the effectiveness and benefits of prayer, but then the congregants were expected to pray and pray fervently.  He was fairly creative about leading the folks in the format. One week, it might be silent prayer, kneeling where you are, getting down to business with God. Another week it might be sentence prayer. Each person was expected to contribute a single sentence of thanks, praise, or intercession. (Deacons never stopped at just one sentence.)  Other times, you just simply pray silently, if you like, or out loud, if you like, and a designated person would end.

I don’t remember this specific event personally because I was very young. However, my parents often told the story of one especially dark Wednesday night prayer meeting in deep East Texas.  The church was about ten miles from town in the piney woods, and the congregation was specifically praying for God’s conviction on the lost.  At one point, the room fell silent in the ebb-and-flow of prayer. At that juncture, a coyote began to howl, just outside the window of the little chapel.  My dad often quipped that three people got saved right then.

In order to free the adults from the burden of tending their young ‘uns on Wednesday night, so they could fully devote their attention to beseeching the Almighty, Baptists developed children’s programs designed to educate them on Missions. The WMU (Women’s Missionary Union) whole-sale plagiarized the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, threw in some scripture verses, and called them RAs (Royal Ambassadors) and GAs (Girls in Action).  The preschoolers were Mission Friends.  I’m certain I may have just drawn the ire of many SBC patriots, but consider the many similarities of uniforms, merit badges, camping activities, and levels of achievement.  I could be wrong, but I doubt it.  I didn’t mind, though.  Making an African noise-maker from a block of wood and string was a whole lot more interesting to me than praying for Aunt Myrtle’s second-cousin’s ex-husband’s brother-in-law and his gout.  Besides, I just wanted to hurry up and get into the Youth department, so I could play volleyball and croquet. Have I mentioned that?

The very best thing about Wednesday night was it often marked to beginning of our vacation.  My dad didn’t often take time off from work, but when he did, it started on Wednesday night.  The work week was over, and we could squeeze in a trip to see Mamaw and Eddie, Glen, or Pat.  We would leave on Wednesday night, drive past midnight, bed down on a pallet in the living room, then wake to bacon and eggs and two days of fun.  We always had to get back by Saturday night, so as not to miss Sunday.  My dad never missed preaching. He loved preaching more than any vacation.  I am not my father, but Kimberly and I did adopt and perfect the art of day-cation.  We would leave after school on Friday, drive a few hours to nothing special, spend the weekend sampling that town’s local wares and local fare.  I still like those trips and how they refresh my spirit in a short time.

When we arrived home on Saturday night, we all slept soundly.  Then, Sunday morning came, another week started in the house-of-God, another week in the life of a pastor.

Praying child.

Published in: on October 4, 2017 at 10:49 am  Leave a Comment  

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