by Rev Robert A Wendel
Nehemiah prayed, “I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy from them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes be open that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray now before thee for thy people… “ (Nehemiah 1:4-5, KVJ.)
Praying is never easy. Praying out loud, in public, is even harder. I remember being asked to offer grace before breakfast in the home of our overnight host, when my wife Kathryn and I were living in Connecticut in 1985 during my year as a Resident Chaplain in the State Mental Hospital and were delegates to the Annual State Convention representing First Baptist Church, Middletown.
I obliged, trying to include everyone and everything in my quests I sent heavenward. When I’d lifted my head, the young pastor said, “Bob, you forgot to ask the Lord to bless our food!” Everybody ‘round the table new I meant well!
Decades later, as Pastor of the Freedonia Baptist Church in New York, I was privileged to offer grace before each weekly Rotary Club luncheon meeting. And in 2001 at the commencement of students from The New York State University Campus in Fredonia, I wrote a prepared script for the afternoon’s invocation and benediction. Every six weeks at First Baptist Beckley, my prayer took days to think through, since I wanted my invocation to match the morning scripture.
Here’s the pastor prayer delivered on ABC Youth Sunday by a young lady who was a sophomore at Jamestown Community College in Dunkirk, New York who was active in our BYF. “O Father, Thou knowest our nature and readest our innermost thoughts and nothing can be hidden from Thee. Help us, then, to unburden ourselves of every disguise we wear before the world and find strength in being what we are, Thou humble and grateful children. Enable us to put off shame and pretense. Be patient with any of us who still prefer vain shows and empty pride to the freedom and security of Thy truth.
Enable us to carry out from this place peace and strength that we gain here, because we have talked with Thee. May we be able to work more patiently for Thy Kingdom, bringing light upon the problems that perplex the world, dispelling the night of doubt and fear with Thy sheltering love. Amen” Leaving the platform, she added, “Be sure to pray!”