It is central to a modern lay evangelist to be a traveling speaker, to board planes, trains and automobiles in order to reach whatever audience Christ sends our way.
But I'm newly married and a new dad, so every time I have to head out to the airport for the weekend or a week, it is always painful. I love my family and my daughter is so new to the world that every day becomes a new experience for her, and loads of joy for Shannon and me, so I always feel like I'm missing out on her life.
Tonight I arrived in Kansas City, MO for the diocesan KC youth conference. It's going to be a lot of fun and I will have ample opportunity to be with young people and to preach Christ. My first time hosting a summer camp was for middle school teens in Rockyvine, MO. The teens that I got close to were Diane Pichert's kids from the old KC. They will be coming to this event as juniors and seniors in high school, and I am starting to feel old.
But this is exciting work. I plan to introduce the conference the way I introduce every talk that I give in a new place. Opening prayer morphs into a catechesis on St. Francis de Sales' method on prayer: place yourself in God's presence, realize that "God is Here"!
From this awareness of being in God's holy presence, two things immediately occur. First, you are overwhelmed with humility because you should realize that you don't deserve to be in His presence. You aren't worthy. At all.
Second is the realization that, unworthy as you are, God still has invited you to be here, so from humility we approach the throne of grace in bold confidence! He has asked us to be with Him, so let us fulfill His plan for us with bold confidence. He does not call the qualified. No one fits that description. He qualifies the called.
My prayer before any event like this is for humility and boldness in my presentations, to have absolute confidence in my message, not because I'm so great, but because God is faithful. If God is for us, no one can stop us. I can't be faithful or confident in myself, in my own cleverness, because there may be hundreds or thousands of people out there coming from all different circumstances and with all sorts of baggage that I have no clue about. Any true and lasting conversion comes not from human cleverness, but from divine power.
Saint Paul thought along these lines when he said to the Church in Corinth: "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning" (1 Cor 1:17).
My other prayer is something I have done since my first parish mission in 2005. I remind the devil that Christ has already bound him, and my mission is to plunder his house of souls he unjustly has obtained. They are Christ's, not the devils, and I mean to claim them for Jesus. It's kind of weird, I know, but I hate the grip that evil has on these teens and I am sick and tired of letting the world, the flesh and the devil destroy another generation of potential saints and heroes. Check out Mark 3:22-27 for the scriptural reasoning behind this weird prayer that I do.
I know that my preaching of the Word of God has the potential to free people from their chains, from things they thought they could never be free from, could never escape.
Jesus has the desire to work through us. The saying, "He has no hands but ours" really isn't true. He often works in others in spite of us, not only in and through us! Our job is to pray, fast and discern how to stay out of the way, speaking only when commanded.