I have a sister-in-law who recently retired after a long and anointed career as a pastor. Before she was a pastor though, for many years she was a hair stylist. Actually, not a whole lot changed about her job description when she closed the shop and entered “full-time ministry;” she had been in full-time ministry all along. Her passion was the same in both roles – to love on people so they could learn to fall in love with Jesus.
Washing and cutting and curling hair was just a front for the opportunity to listen to people’s stories and point them to the One who wanted so desperately to be their Friend. Occasionally a customer would slip out of the chair and be gone without being prayed over – but not often. I love to hear her stories. Let me share one.
On a fresh Wednesday morning a mother and her teenage daughter came into the shop for haircuts. Mom was first while the daughter sat nearby and read. When it was the daughter’s turn the conversation continued easily and they chatted like any two girls might. The stylist asked, “How’s school?” “Got a boyfriend?” “What’s your favorite subject?” “What’s your not-favorite subject?” Not an interrogation, you understand, just friendship questions.
The conversation drifted to her favorite after-school activities and the teen volunteered that since this was Wednesday she could hardly wait till evening when she could go to prayer meeting at her church.
Now in some settings, teenager and prayer meeting in the same sentence is considered an oxymoron. But the girl’s candor and the ease of the comment caught the stylist somewhat by surprise. “Oh, really,” she responded. “What’s your favorite part?”
After only a moment of reflection the teen replied, “I love our prayer meeting. I love to hear people tell the stories of how God answered their prayers – since last Wednesday. It reminds me that He is still working and that He can answer my prayers, too.”
Great story. Here was a church that was doing something right on Wednesday nights. She didn’t brag about the worship band or the number of her friends in the youth group who were there or how cute the youth pastor was. As she moved through her teen years this young believer was discovering that she could trust God. The people around her believed it so she could, too. I love that the stories she heard were from the preceding week, not from 1937. The secret sauce for a healthy prayer meeting is when God’s people come together and radiantly boast about His personal, passionate, present care. We call it worship.