Sometimes, people see the prayer tour deliberately constructed as a tool for making you feel bad or make you feel extreme, unwarranted sadness. The purpose of a tour in prayer is really to break your heart, not necessarily your spirit. I had an individual in one of my groups some time ago that was in pretty rough shape during and after the prayer tour here in Philly. It can be easy to overlook the eyes glistening with tears in the fifteen-passenger van on the night of a prayer tour, but this time got me thinking; how can I convey to my group that this is meant for exposure, education and, in a way, illumination? The following was and continues to be my response and encouragement to the sadness and empathy:
To feel sad and to empathize is completely alright, but be mindful of the moment you feel yourself sinking into these things. Allow yourself to feel empathy, but empathy to the point of excitement! When we typically feel empathy, we are restricted to doing so at a distance, but rest assured that there will be no distance during the week of service in Philadelphia or another CSM site. You have been afforded the unique opportunity to work with people and ministries that are intent on specifically combating the very things that wrench you. Turn sadness and empathy into love, into grace, into excitement and into motivation. Use it as motivation to help the tired people of this city turn its struggles into beauties and illuminate shadows with new and vibrant light.
Revelations is a fantastic verse to keep in mind. It reads, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” It is important to realize that the light of the city does not really come from the buildings jutting up from the horizon, but from the people that inhabit it and work for the glory of God in it. When you want to hurt for them or feel sad for them, just remember that you have the unique chance to come alongside them, work with them, love on them and "do life" with them.
This is just as important for CSM City Hosts as it is for the groups they are tasked with guiding. Sometimes, seeing the light of the city through the dank shadows seems difficult. The light can be veiled by frustrations with directions, general fatigue, not getting to eat breakfast at the start of a long day or any great number of things that you face in a given day. These things weigh down on you faster than you may give them credit for in the moment, but when you feel it, just slow down, silence your mouth and mind, step back for a moment and be cognizant of what God is showing and telling you! You, like your groups, are afforded the opportunity to do life with the people of the city, so use this time to really do it, and make a point to do it without overloading yourself with unnecessary burdens and distractions. Do not forget to dwell on who God is and remember that the truth of His word is our ultimate encouragement. The truth of God will always stand.
- Scott, CSM Philadephia Summer 2013 City Host
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