Guest post by Allison Williams

Last week was one of those, “I bet my waitress has a happier life than I do,” kind of weeks in ministry. I was tired, I had too many irons in the fire, and if someone walked into my office, I swear it was to add something onto my plate. Melodramatic, right? But we’ve all had those weeks.

My lesson was prepped and ready to go for middle school youth group, but I really hadn’t taken the time to rehearse and memorize like I normally do. I just wasn’t feeling it. Wednesday morning, one of my volunteers texted to let me know that she had a head cold and couldn’t come that night. As I blew all the mucus out of my body into a kleenex, I told her to stay in and rest. Sigh… it was a rough day.

That night, I walked into our youth building already defeated. Something was going around and half of the kids were home sick. My lead volunteer, that was in charge of games, had his head resting on a table. I wasn’t sure if I should get him a throw up bucket or call his wife to pick him up. The whole scene was just a mess.

We went out of order on our schedule, because we were in survival mode. Surprisingly enough, the kids were really well-behaved and super into the lesson. It made me wish I had worked harder reviewing my notes. After small groups, we had closing prayer. The prayer requests came… and they were all animal-related. Every. Last. One. I was out of energy. In that moment, I literally had no idea how to pray.

I looked across the room to a special volunteer. This guy is just about the kindest human being I know. He’s in his mid sixties and sort of a grandfather to this crew of students. Maybe he would know how to pray for dogs and lizards… and my sanity tonight? Before I could even ask, he graciously offered to close us out.

This man was almost poetic in his prayer for these animals. These were true burdens on my kids’ hearts and he treated the requests with the respect they deserved. He remembered every animal’s name and need. If someone had walked in, they would have had no clue that he was even praying for animals; he used such dignity. As he finished, I hurriedly wiped away my tears so the kids wouldn’t see.

But after youth group, I sat in my car and had a good cry. The same God that cares whether or not Lynette the Lizard regrew a tail or if Moxie the German Shepard stopped vomiting in the living room was the same God that cares about my head cold, to do list, and apathy this week. How can I teach kids to pray when I had neglected to for two days? I am so thankful for God’s grace. If ministry, health, and outside stressors are affecting you today, I encourage you to stop right now and pray to your Father who knows your every need before you even ask.