Prayers are Like Gifts

Typically when we think of the word “gift,” our definition or explanation usually has some sort of reference to presents under the Christmas tree or the contents of a birthday card. Gifts are often thought of as a new skateboard from Dad or cash from Grandma. And, through this thought process, somewhere along the way, we have begun defining the word gift as something we can physically use or spend.

But when I unwrap my own personal understanding I have come to realize the best gifts are anything but physical. Rather, my best gifts are experiences. This is because positive experiences tend to be like Russian nesting dolls – you know, those egg-shaped dolls with an identical, but smaller, doll within – in that positive experiences typically lead to yet another positive experience, and another, and another ... I think this is because experiences give us a connection. Connections to people, places, and things. As people we desire connection. Maybe more than anything in the world.

Yet when we find ourselves praying, thankful for gifts, our prayers are often for things that palpably benefit us. In our youth program or at Cathedral of the Pines Camp I have come to notice a theme when we have open prayer. The theme being prayers of thanks for palpable things: food to eat, a place to sleep, etc.

While it is important to be thankful to God for those “things,” it is also important to be grateful for experiences. If experiences are truly the best gifts then we should be equally thankful for them. This doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, when a cool experience comes along, like going up to Cathedral of the Pines, that experience is merely acknowledged with, “wow, that was sweet.” Simply a thought, not a prayer.

I believe in ways similar to our limited definition of gifts, we can have a limited understanding of prayer. Maybe gifts are like prayers and prayers like gifts. Maybe if the best gifts are experiences then, also, the best prayers are experiences. Is a prayer not a connection to God?

Embracing the emotion inherent in any experience is how I pray. When I live my life connecting to experiences, I find myself living what I would call a prayerful life. I find myself praying without even knowing it. No envelope, no stamp, no address of God. Just a connection to him.

In my five very different years working in Youth Ministry at Mount Olivet, I have been blessed (by God) to have had five classes of students who have rendered five experiences. Each year, like a Russian Nesting Doll, has looked similar on the surface but been its own unique gift full of differing experiences. Five prayerful experiences in which I spent a relatively small amount of time with my head bowed and hands folded.

The people, places, and things I connected to here in my time at Mount Olivet have changed how
I experience life. And therefore how I pray. –

High school youth staff
We thank Dane Moore for his years of service to Mount Olivet and wish him the best in his future endeavors.



Confirmation Registration for 2017-18 is Now Open! (7th & 8th Gr) Each student needs to register each year they plan to participate. $50 per year – scholarships available.

Confirmation Camp Make-Up (9th Gr) 8/23 10am-1pm Mpls Youth Center. This session is required for those who did not go to Confirmation Camp at Cathedral of the Pines.

Confirmation Orientation (7th Gr) 7:15-8pm, 9/13 Mpls Narthex & Main Sanctuary or 9/27 West Narthex. All 7th-graders and one parent or guardian are required to attend one Confirmation orientation session. You may attend whichever session best fits your schedule regardless of the campus where you plan to attend Confirmation.

Confirmation Celebration & Rehearsal (9th Gr) Th 9/14 6:30-8:30pm, Mpls Main Sanctuary & Youth Center. All 9th-grade Confirmands are invited to celebrate the Confirmation year with their parents, small group leaders, and fellow students. The evening will conclude with cake in the Youth Center. This is a required event, as we will be rehearsing for the Confirmation service and picking up Confirmation robes and Confirmation composite pictures. See you there! Great job, Confirmands!

Confirmation Small Group Leader Training W 9/20 7-8pm, Mpls Rm 482/486 or West Gronseth Fellowship Hall. All small group Confirmation leaders are invited to attend this session to learn about the upcoming year’s schedule and curriculum. Leaders also will get their class list at this time. Those who are attending in Minneapolis are encouraged to go to the Stewardship Dinner prior to training. Reservations are encouraged for the dinner.