I fidgeted in my pew and tried to build my five-year-old courage so I could contribute to the church service. My father was the minister, and it was time for prayer requests. This was my moment.
I glanced askance at the woman on the third pew from the left who dominated every prayer request session. She asked us to pray for people that I was pretty sure had died years ago. Today my own request would be heard.
Dad discussed some announcements, and then prepared for the morning prayer by asking, “Are there any prayer requests this morning?”
My young heart pounded with anticipation. I put my tiny arm up in the air, but dad didn’t see it because of the woman on the third pew who shoved her much longer arm in the air with Jeopardy-like speed.
“Yes, pastor, I have several people who need prayer.” Of course she did. I waited, impatiently, for her to get through her Santa Claus-length list.
“Any other prayer requests?” dad asked.
I threw my arm up in the air, and with a verbal nudge from my mom in the choir dad spotted me.
“Yes, Donna. What is your request?”
My heart pounded so hard I was afraid no words would come out.
“I think we should pway for ouw emenies.”
I forgot to mention that I couldn’t say my “r’s,” and apparently I couldn’t say “enemies.”
“What?” my dad asked, his eyes bugging out the way they did when he couldn’t understand somebody.
“PWAY FOR OUW EMENIES” I said much louder, suddenly realizing that prayer requests were harder than originally anticipated.
“I’m sorry, honey, I can’t understand you,” dad said, tilting his head away from his deaf ear. I stood up and screamed, “PWAY FOR OUW EMENIES!!!!”
My mother came to the rescue as the congregation chuckled. “Joe, she is saying ‘pray for our enemies.'”
Well, by this time the moment was lost and I was sure the woman on the third pew was looking at me with victory in her eyes.
Prayer Requests and Leadership
What does this have to do with leadership? It has to do with listening to those who might not always speak up in meetings. As a leader, make sure that you:
Everybody has something to say, and most people want to positively contribute. As a leader, your ability to provide that opportunity could be the difference between a mediocre project and a creative, exciting new approach.
Even though our exchange was awkward, dad ended up writing his next sermon on praying for our enemies. He thought it was a great idea. Or should I say, gweat idea.