One word that really described the structure of the team is this: trios.
EVERYTHING came in trios. When we walked in the airport, we stayed in assigned trios. When we roamed the mall, we used trios. Sometimes for seating, we’d sit in our trios. The trios would look out for each other. In theory, it’s much easier to count three trios, than nine people.
We also had daily prayer trios.
The idea was to use the trios in dedicated prayer time, and then throughout the day, whenever there was a spare minute or two, get together and pray quickly. The groups would change every morning so that everyone would get a chance to pray with everybody (although, for some reason, I ended up being with Jesse about seven times in a row 🙂 Just kidding).
Before getting in the van each morning, we had anywhere from five minutes to thirty minutes in between breakfast and leaving. At the guest house we stayed at during our time at the orphanage, we had a little bit more time than at the Wisma. One of the first mornings we are at the guest house, having finished breakfast, we are asked to get in our prayer trios.
“Okay guys. Pray for 15 minutes.”
Here’s how it played out:
minutes 1-5: “Do you guys have any prayer requests?” Spending the first 5 minutes discussing what we are going to pray about
minutes 5-8: praying
minute 9: feels like we’ve been going for 15 minutes…”AMEN”
minute 10-15: awkwardly waiting for further instructions, start talking about the day, etc.
Over the next few days, we read passages about prayer in our devotions and nightly study. We were encouraged, “Don’t talk about praying….just pray.” Also, we were advised to just do short little prayers and go around and around the trio rather than splitting it into three, five minutes sections.
Every morning: “Pray for 15 minutes”
In a couple of mornings, we were praying for 15 minutes in its fullest. No more discussing. No more cutting it short. In fact, 15 minutes just wasn’t enough. As I’ve previously blogged, our team didn’t complain much, but the complaints we did have went something like this:
“You didn’t give us enough time to pray!”
“PLEAAAAAAASE, just a few more minutes!”
Each morning from then on out, just as before: “Get in your trios and pray for 15 minutes.”
Unbeknownst to us, little by little, Ken had been increasing the amount of time we’d be praying. He didn’t tell us, and each morning kept saying “15 minutes of prayer time.” In a couple days, the time had been increased to 20 minutes.
“Time’s up. We gotta go”
“That was NOT 15 minutes! You didn’t give us enough time.”
I guess that was a complaint he could deal with. 🙂
Bump it up to 25 minutes
“You didn’t give us enough time!”
Increase it to 30 minutes
“That was definitely not 15 minutes. Can’t we get more time?”
At our debrief site, we had been asked to pray for 15 minutes, like always.
We were again, cut off, having to move on to other things.
“Please, just five more minutes! We didn’t get enough time!”
And then the secret was let loose.
That time, we had not spent fifteen minutes in prayer.
Rather, we had spent forty minutes in prayer.
And still it “wasn’t enough time.”
Seriously, it felt like five minutes.
Fastest 40 minutes ever
After the next time we prayed, we asked how long we’d spent.
Again, we begged for more time. This time, it was granted. 🙂
It was really awesome to see how each of us had nurtured a heart and desire for prayer. A month later, many of us attended a summer camp together where Ken was the highschool speaker. Lots of stories about the trip were shared, including this one. The same idea was implemented before the message. We’d get in groups of three and pray for 5, 10, 15 minutes. So many people would be disappointed when they were cut off. They said “I had things prepared for at least three more turns” or “That did not feel like 10 minutes.” The day before the highschool ministry outing, as tradition, an opportunity was presented to fast through lunch. Typically, about 25 people come. This year, we had 65 people signed up. We spent 30 minutes praying through passages of Scripture with several different partners. At the end, the comments paralleled the ones before: “That didn’t feel like 30 minutes” “That was really cool.” On the last morning of the 11th-12th grade girls Bible class, we quickly went over the lesson and then spent the last 20 minutes in prayer, specifically praying through Revelation 4. Once we were cut off, having to move on to the next activity, I heard so many times, ‘THAT WAS THE FASTEST 20 MINUTES OF MY LIFE!”
The first time the team was asked to pray for 15 minutes, not going to lie, it was difficult. But in a few days, it wasn’t. We knew there were so many things we could pray: we could praise God, we could ask things of God, we could pray for each other, we could encourage each other, we could thank God, we could pray through Scripture, we could pray for ourselves. It became something that wasn’t a chore, but a delight.
Try spending 20-30 minutes in prayer sometime. Set a timer instead of just watching the clock. Do it with a friend. You’ll be surprised how fast the time goes.