(don't win battles.)
Last week, our school's parent council met for its final meeting of the year. Our committee has struggled a lot with tension and arguing these last nine months, and I have prayed so often, especially before each meeting, that I would be a light, that I would speak truth and wisdom, that I would disgree and accept disagreement gracefully and respectfully. Coming into this last meeting, I even sent out a last-minute prayer request to a few people because I knew it would likely not be a pleasant meeting. I was right. We managed to be civil until the very end when it all unravelled very suddenly.
I could have held my tongue. What many felt was calmly and rationally voiced by one woman and I could have just left it at that. SHOULD have. But when the arguing started, I didn't stop myself and I joined in. I don't believe I said any words I shouldn't have said, but I know the WAY in which I said them was wrong. I allowed my extreme frustration to boil over and take control of my mouth and my body language.
While in a way, I feel my words were justified and I know I voiced what others have been feeling, I could not escape the conviction afterwards that all the prayer warriors rallying at my side had been let down. I had neglected their presence in that meeting. I had turned my back on them spiritually and thought only of myself as I fought verbally. I had stilled their weapons of prayer and loosed my tongue instead to do my own avenging.
This is an aspect of corporate prayer I never knew before. Had I not asked for it, I would be only concerned with what the others in that meeting might think of ME. But that night, for the first time I can ever remember, I was ONLY concerned with how they had seen God as a result of my words and actions. And I knew it wasn't a pretty picture. I made a mockery of God in that meeting whether or not anyone else realized it.
I surely got off easy for "trampling the Son of God underfoot and treating as an unholy thing the blood of the convenant which sanctified me, and insulting the spirit of grace." I deserved to fall into the hands of the living God that night. (Heb 10:26-31)
I never realized this before, but while there is great comfort in the prayer support of others, there comes also a much greater responsibility placed on my shoulders because I am not alone. I lead the charge into the fray and they follow me, defending me, guarding me, upholding me. But when they pray I will have wisdom and I speak foolishly, I have wrested a weapon from their hands. When they pray I will be loving and I speak hatefully, I have removed another. When they pray I will be patient and I speak in frustration, I tear yet another from their grasp. Before long, I have stripped my own army of their weapons and I have rendered them completely ineffective against the enemy.
And I fall.
I become my "old self," the one that was crucified with Christ. (Rom 6:5-7) The one that, eternally, I am no longer a slave to, but in this life, still struggle to free myself from in order to draw others to Him. (Eph 4:21-23; Col 3:8-10) Which is why I so desperately NEED my prayer warriors to have ALL their weapons at the ready, to guard me against a weak and ineffective Christianity that makes God very UNappealing to others.
And so of those who'd prayed for me, I felt compelled to humbly ask forgiveness as I picked myself up and sheepishly handed them back their armaments.
They will surely need them again on my behalf in the future.