In Romans 1 we read
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
Isn’t he teaching us about ministering through these verses?
- Pray for your Brothers and Sisters always. Every day, in every prayer.
- Asking Heavenly Father to guide in when and how to visit with them.
- Having a desire to share your spiritual gifts and testimony to help to strengthen them.
- Having a desire to come together so that the faith of both of you may be strengthened and comforted.
Let’s look at these 4 things that Paul is speaking about here and see how we can better apply them in our own lives.
- Pray for those to whom you are assigned to minister.
This is always the first step in a relationship of love. It’s a simple place to begin but can have a huge impact on your life and also on the lives of those who you are praying for. If you have been given an assignment to minister to someone new who you may not know very well sincere prayer will help you to begin to feel love for that person and will also invite the Holy Ghost to prompt you in how to reach out to that person.
If this person you have been assigned seems difficult or you feel like you will not be able to connect or find something in common, prayer is a great place to begin because God will be able to speak to you and begin to show you where that connection can occur.
If this person has no desire to be contacted praying in behalf of that person and asking for blessings of peace and love will help you and can also have great effect in the life of the person you are praying for whether you can see the effects or not.
2. In your prayers ask Heavenly Father to guide you in times and places and ways to visit and minister.
Notice here that Paul is not with the people he would like to minister to and so he writes a letter. I know that this can feel a little outdated but a handwritten letter today means something. And a handwritten letter filled with true care can help another person feel less alone and also help them to feel loved.
Paul expresses in this letter, a desire to be with them in person and a desire to help and be of service. In your letters you could talk about getting together at a future date. You could talk about how you think of the person often and that they are part of your daily prayers. You could share things that are important to you such as your testimony, like Paul does in this letter, or even something as simple as a favorite recipe.
Text messages and phone calls are also great ways to reach out if an in person visit just isn’t possible immediately. If you have a kind thought about someone, let them know. If they cross your mind and you wonder how they are, reach out and ask. Small things like that mean a lot to the person on the other end of the phone. And if you have those feelings and act on them they will come more frequently and your relationships will build and get deeper.
3. Paul expresses a desire to share His testimony.
Sharing the things you know in a spiritual conversation brings the spirit and can also bring those tender feelings that lead to friendship. How many times have I had conversations about Gospel topics which made me feel closer to the person I was having the discussion with? That is one thing we all share – a faith in God and in His Gospel and a hope in the work of the atonement in our lives.
Sometimes it may feel awkward to share something as personal and tender as your testimony but I know that sharing those things that are closest to our hearts can lift others and at the same time increase those feelings of testimony we are expressing.
4. And finally, Paul speaks of how these opportunities to meet and talk together strengthen both parties.
The person who is assigned to minister can also be strengthened through the things that are shared.
Ministering is an inspired way of living. It can bring us all closer together. It is a way for everyone in the ward to be taken care of and loved. It is therefore important for all of us to carry out our assignment so that each of us feels loved and cared for and wanted.
In addition, please, please, please make space for your ministering people to come and see you. Even if you feel like you are fine. You have no idea what you might say to strengthen them. Ministering can and will strengthen everyone.
President Nelson referred to ministering as a Higher and Holier Way when he introduced this new way of doing things to replace the Home and Visiting Teaching programs. I believe that this is true because we are being more fully trusted by the Lord to take care of each other and help in so many ways without lists or calendars to box us in.
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