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Praying to Serve

A church volunteer comes to learn that there are many ways to serve.

Orange Gelatin Salad
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Why couldn’t they have asked me to do something I know how to do? I thought as I prepared to deliver the opening prayer at my women’s group luncheon.

I didn’t have much experience volunteering. As a busy professional I didn’t have a lot of time, but it seemed like I should be doing more for my church. I prayed on it and asked my friend Jan to also. “Of course,” she said, then added, “Our women’s group always needs help.”

I’d pictured myself serving meals at a soup kitchen or bringing blankets to homeless shelters. That I could do. Instead I wound up with a position as chaplain. Leading people in prayer was definitely not my forte. I cleared my throat and nervously read out what I’d prepared. “Dear Lord, bless the work we do here today…” The other women didn’t seem to notice how dry my mouth was. Or maybe they were just being polite. At least I got through it.

Saying prayers was easy compared to my next job: taking minutes. I’d never been any good at that. I combed through old records trying to learn the format and all the details: the church thrift-shop donations, the send-a-kid-to-camp program, the hospice support. They ought to pick a better secretary the next time, I thought when I handed in my first set of notes.

Then they gave me a third job: helping the head cook prepare the food for our lunch meetings. That was the biggest challenge yet. I’m all thumbs in the kitchen.

How do they always manage to assign the jobs hardest for me? I thought as I followed a recipe for orange gelatin salad. I was nervous when we all took our seats at the table, but to my surprise my salad didn’t collapse into mush. It looked pretty good. It tasted even better.

“We should have had you in the kitchen months ago,” Jan said, taking a second helping.

“I’m still not sure how you got me in there at all,” I said. “How did you talk me into all this volunteering?”

“I didn’t,” Jan said. “Don’t you remember? You asked me to pray for God to use you any way he wished.”

I had completely forgotten about my prayer. But God hadn’t.

Download your FREE ebook, A Prayer for Every Need, by Norman Vincent Peale.

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