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"Preach to the choir" by Hillary Ibarra (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2019 Hillary Ibarra. All rights reserved.[/caption] I met a prayer prophet. At least that's what I called her, a new friend who is the mother of my son's soccer friend. She was telling me at soccer practice how grateful she was that while having her family in town from Colombia these past few months, there had been very few misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Occasionally, disagreements had arisen, but she credited prayer in preventing them from getting overblown and causing lasting tension. She got teary-eyed as she told me that she and her mother are spending as much of their remaining time together as possible, enjoying all they can. Then she confided that her mom had seriously misunderstood the meaning behind her words once. They had an argument, and my friend told her mother to please go, pray and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, and if after prayer she still wanted to be mad, she could be. "Do you think I would bring you all this way to my home just to make you suffer?" she asked her mom. The situation was soon rectified. "I think everything works out right with prayer," my friend told me. "Just prayer, prayer, prayer in everything." On that evening that was something I needed to hear. Honestly, I feel God gave my friend the opportunity to tell me that precisely, to be a prayer prophet for me. And it wasn't a topic I had even suggested, but it led to a message I recognized. I pray; I throw up thoughts to God sporadically throughout the day. Thank you. Thank you! Come with your mercy. Protect my family. Bless this person, Father. Help me! Forgive me. Guide me. Hold my hand. So my friend was preaching to the choir, really. But this choir member was struggling anew with an old problem and had become weary of praying about it, had forgotten the grace and power of prayer. I think preaching to the choir is too often slammed as a resounding gong that does nothing, stirs no one and imparts no aid in the fight to be better human beings. But is the choir perfect? Is their harmony so sublime already that improvement is impossible? Preaching to the choir is still preaching, and if done with God's help, is effective and stirring and energizing. Because sometimes the choir has fallen asleep. Or the back row is gossiping while the front row is self-righteously pretending not to listen. Sometimes every single last person in that choir is bent over their phone playing a game, wasting time and effort on distractions and cheap rewards. Sometimes the choir is sulking because they don't get to sing the hymns they like today. Or they're singing mechanically, because they have been doing it for so long, they forgot why they loved to sing and glorify in the first place. Preaching to the choir is very necessary sometimes, I think, and I have been thinking about it a great deal lately, because I have lately had people preach to me and have been truly very grateful. May no one ever say that Hillary is past the point of accepting and welcoming and reflecting on others' preaching! After all, we live in community to share wisdom with each other, to share joy, love and hope and to say, "Soldier on! I'm coming, too." Or the never obsolete words: "You're not alone. I've struggled. But now I'm here to help carry you forward with my encouragement." The choir needs encouragement, too. The choir needs each other and needs a good preacher (not always the same person from moment to moment). The choir needs, every so often, one member to stand up on a dreary day and belt out Amazing Grace with such beauty and truth that everyone is fortified.
Copyright 2019 Hillary Ibarra