Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 31, 2015
I’m Called. I’m Summoned. I Pray, Too.
Calling? A calling can be one’s position in life. More than a work-a-day job, more than merely earning wages. A true calling can give my life deep, heartfelt meaning. My calling can be like the needle on a compass—pointing toward my life’s purpose and true substance.
Summoned? This word has several meanings, but one of the most common is commanded, or sent a message, to come. Johnny on the spot. Front and center. Hurry up! There is some urgency in this call.
Jesus gets in on the action. At the beginning of His ministry, He is walking by the Sea of Galilee, and sees four fisherman. Two sets of brothers. He says, “Come, follow Me!” Lo and behold, the four men do. Leaving their fishing equipment, in the middle of things, they follow Jesus.
Jesus called, they followed. Jesus summoned, they answered the call.
I heard this narrative from the Gospels a number of times. I felt the call of Jesus deeply. I prepared myself, going to bible college here in Illinois. Becoming trained in a number of areas. Fitting myself to be a caring, capable bible teacher, youth leader, church musician. I prayed, too. And was a regular jack-of-all-trades, as far as the church is concerned. (Or, is that a Jill-of-all-trades?)
I cried out to God as I saw my friends and acquaintances around me go off to far-flung places. Some in professional ministry, others as nurses, teachers, business people. I had skills. I had drive and desire to serve. Other than the occasional little, short-term jobs, no professional openings for me, anywhere, either secular or sacred. Still, I found places in churches to minister as a lay leader, while waiting. And waiting for years. Getting more training, and further preparation. And, praying, too.
Does this sound familiar? Pounding the pavement, and some interest. A few interviews, but no job offers. Sending out resumes and making calls, and some interest. Again, a few interviews, but no positions available. For years and years. I can well relate to people nowadays who have been unemployed for the long term. It’s disheartening and depressing. Makes you feel awful, about yourself, your skills, your chances, life in general.
But—Jesus. Jesus calling. Jesus giving the summons.
Is that You, Lord? Can You mean me, Lord? Finally?
It’s three decades since I graduated from bible college, and I have had quite a ride. Never a straight line, never a clear path, but always a fascinating one. Rev. Howell has “calling” as his last topic, for the last day of his lessons on prayer. He riffs on some of these same things I’ve covered, and mentions that God’s “calling” ultimately weaves each of us into the fabric of community. I appreciate Rev. Howell’s assistance in leading me through this study guide on prayer. I would like to close in the brief prayer which he uses to close this chapter.
So let us pray together: “O Lord, help me know to what you are calling me. Open my eyes and ears. Help me read the signs in my soul. Create a willing spirit in me, for I know you may be calling me to something very different in my work, or in the way I do my work, or with the rest of my life, or even this afternoon, in the next minute. O Lord, teach us to pray, and to follow. Amen.” 
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 James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 96-97.