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Spirituality Leadership Prayer

The Best (& Simplest) Way to Supercharge Your Ministry this Summer

Sarah Harmon
Written By Sarah Harmon
On Apr, 24 2024
12 minute read
The question, “How can we get more students through the doors?” arises A LOT in college ministry. Depending on who you ask, the responses are going to be varied:

“More dinners!” no wait… “Fewer dinners!” 
“More Bible studies!” or maybe “less Bible studies?”
“Be more extraverted!” or try to “Tone it down and strike up deep, one-on-one conversations!”
“Nothing? Hmm…I guess keep changing things until you find the right fit?”

If you’re in ministry, you might be familiar with conversations and suggestions like these. You know what it looks like to be searching for the Silver Bullet. The One Great Program that’s going to change everything and make your ministry explode with fruitfulness.

We’ve got great news for you! We want to share the silver bullet with you — the one simple way to supercharge your ministry. We guarantee you — if you incorporate this simple practice into your ministry, the results will amaze you. Give it a chance, and it might just change your lives and the lives of your students.

Don't want to read the blog? Listen to it instead!

The Silver Bullet


We know…pretty bold claims flying around this place. Thankfully, it’s not simply something we threw together or came up with in a brainstorming session. This “simple way” that we are promoting has been the fertilizer, so to speak, for any and all grand movements in the Church for the last two thousand years. This is the Christian Way — the call and promise of Jesus. This way is PRAYER.

Prayer is something we likely think and talk about pretty often in our ministries. But, I’m willing to bet it can be hard to fit in among the many things and people demanding our attention.

If we aren’t fitting it into our daily routines, it’s likely because we aren’t truly convinced of its effectiveness. If someone gave a 100% guaranteed simple way to lose weight, get buff, learn a language, or master a skill, would we try it? Would we do it if it was 100% guaranteed and required 15-30 minutes minimum?

Our honest answer is likely “no.” 

There are simple exercises to accomplish all of the goals listed above that take roughly 15-30 minutes per day. But when the simple secret is consistency over immediacy, we tend to lose steam and interest. After a year, we could have reached our goal. Instead, we’ve checked five more shows off our watch list and wonder why we’re not seeing results. What’s the problem here??


The Problem


“If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”


Fr. Ken Geraci shared this quote during our recent REVIVE Campus Minister retreat. He repeated this phrase several times throughout our four-day retreat because, as we know, ministry is BUSY. Events, student conversations, administrative details, crises…sometimes we can’t justify taking time away from the madness because “too much” has to be done, and there’s never “enough” time to do it all.

During REVIVE, we followed Jesus’ invitation: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile” (Mk 6:31). These few days were days of rest and retreat, and we were incredibly blessed. But the goal of the retreat was not merely to gasp for breath to plunge back into our ministries, with nothing changed. The goal of the retreat was transformation in Christ. The goal was to enter back into our ministries in a new way. The goal was to hear Jesus’ invitation daily: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.”

In our ministries, many of us began our roles focusing on “doing God’s work.” I want to ask: has it turned into “working for God”? Have our ministries become mere jobs? Has God become more of a boss than a Father? Have we become so focused on “the work of God” that we forget to be about the “God of the work”?

I’m going to guess that for the majority of us, the answer is “yes.” So, how can we reorient and deeply enter our relationship as Sons and Daughters of God? 

Let’s look at an example of how extreme faithfulness to prayer and fruitfulness in ministry go together.


The Simple "Soul-ution"


"Soul-ution" — see what we did there? 

We likely all know of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She became a worldwide icon in her life, founding the Missionaries of Charity and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. This 5-foot-nothing woman living a life of poverty and service to the poorest of the poor began one of the largest and most successful religious communities in the WORLD. How did this happen?

Context: Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. This means that her work was noticed globally four years before the internet was invented. Can you imagine this happening today? 

What was it about this “nobody” in the slums of Calcutta that made her “work” so fruitful? How did she have such success WITHOUT the benefit of instant communication or clever marketing and sales strategies? How did she get her word out???

In her own words, when asked what her secret was, she replied: “My secret is simple—I pray.”

Without faith, our eyes would squint, our heads would tilt, and we might reply, “Yeah, but really, what’s the secret?”

Our skepticism recalls the story of Namaan, a leper, in 2 Kings Chapter 5. Namaan came to the prophet Elijah to be cured of leprosy, and he grew infuriated when he received word to wash in the river Jordan seven times so that his flesh would be restored. This was too simple, and the Jordan was dirty and small. In his own words, he wanted Elijah to come out, call on the Lord, wave his hand over the place, and cure him, and yet Elijah stayed inside and sent word through a messenger to wash seven times.

Are we like Namaan? Do we have an idea or expectation of how God should work?  Do we think a version of this thought: “If I put on the perfect event, God will show up, wave his hand over people’s hearts, people will be overcome with the Spirit. Everyone will be amazed at how a perfectly executed pizza and Bible study event led to campus-wide conversion!” Are we disappointed that God does not seem to show up as we expect, even though we are working so hard for him

In these moments of exasperation, we’re an awful lot like the older son speaking to his father in Luke 15:29: “Look - all these years I’ve served you, and never once disobeyed your commands. And you’ve never even given me a goat to celebrate with my friends!”

Are we living more like servants, running ourselves to the ground in frustration? Can we hear the Father’s words respond to us here: “My son, you are with me always, and all I have is yours.” (Lk 15:31)

Can we take Mother Teresa’s simple sentence, “My secret is simple—I pray.” and receive it as the answer because it is a daily conversation with our Father?

Circling back to Namaan, his servant calmed his master’s rage, saying, “My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather than, when he says to you, ‘wash and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13) 

The next verse is so simple, not extraordinary at all: He follows the instructions and is made clean.


For us, what if we just tried it? What if we followed Namaan’s example and Mother Teresa’s example? She was a nobody from nowhere and is now a ‘Somebody’ known everywhere. And she would say it’s because she prayed.


Following in Others’ Footsteps

Mother Teresa, like us, didn’t invent this formula. We read it first in the Scriptures.

In Exodus Chapter 3, we read of Moses. God appeared to Him in the Burning Bush, and Moses fell on his face, terrified. Fast-forward thirty chapters to Exodus 33: “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.” What happened to Moses’ heart in those thirty chapters? He showed up and got to know the Lord. 


In 1 Samuel 13:14, the prophet Samuel describes David, the young shepherd boy, as a “man after the heart of God.” David, the future imperfect king, who, among other sins, committed adultery and murdered his friend, was known as “a man after the heart of God,” Why? In Acts 13:22, St. Paul says, “[God] raised up David to be their king; of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will do all my will.’ Of this man’s posterity, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.”

David’s lineage became the doorway for Jesus to enter and save the world. How did he do this? He showed up. He spoke to God, and he did His will. 


Finally, we find the perfect fulfillment of all of these models of prayer: Jesus. Before everything Jesus did, we read “he went to a deserted place and prayed” (Lk 5:16), “he spent the night in prayer” (Lk 6:12), or “he fell to his face and prayed to the Father.” (Mt 26:39)

If Jesus, the perfect second person of the Trinity, spent time in prayer to the Father and begged His help in carrying out His Will, why do we think we are any different? 

Jesus didn’t fit his prayer into his ministry. His ministry was the fruit of His prayer.

And us? Do we follow His example? Do we fit our prayer into our ministry, or is our ministry the fruit of our prayer?

Would we call our ministry “simple” or “complicated”?


Prayer is the seed


“Here is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father…’ (Mt 6:9)

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” (Mt 6:6)

“The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought.” (Rom 8:26)

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn 12:24)


When a grain of wheat falls to the ground, it has to be buried before it can grow. This is what Jesus compares our lives to. 

The tiny, hidden seed is our prayer. 

The visible and fruitful tree that grows from that seed is our ministry.


You Don't Have to Do This Alone: Join a Newman Group


Does it feel hidden, dark, buried, and useless to go into a room, close the door, and pray to our Father who sees in secret? Does prayer feel counterintuitive or a waste of time while so much is clamoring for your attention? Do we really trust Jesus’ words and the examples of so many fruitful lives that have gone before us that it must begin with prayer? 

Do we even know how to pray?? We know this is a common story for many in and out of ministry. We know it’s hard, and the way forward doesn’t seem clear or practical. We want to meet you here.

On May 20, 2024, we will launch a free, 8-week deep dive into the School of Prayer for College Campus Ministers. In these eight weeks, our Newman Groups will sink intentionally into Scripture, the Catechism, and the writings of the saints - Mother Teresa of Calcutta, in particular. 

Our School of Prayer is about gathering with other campus ministers to grow in a faithful, consistent, and profound prayer life. Imagine the impact that becoming a man or woman rooted in prayer would have on your ministry and students! We invite you to lead by example: witness to your students by your life that a profound relationship with God is possible for them, beginning today.

Interested? Sign up here and join our community, Newman Campus Ministers, on the Called App to get updates on this and other free offerings for those in college ministry. We pray for your hearts to be transformed and for your ministries to have no limit of fruitfulness!


Other Ways We Can Help You in Your Ministry

Newman Ministry exists to connect students with a Catholic community on campus so their Faith thrives in college and beyond. Here’s how we ensure high school seniors keep their faith in college and campus ministers are equipped to inspire lifelong disciples:


  1. High School Outreach, our flagship program, is a simple-to-implement program that
    connects high school seniors to campus ministries at their college of choice before they
    get to campus. Sign Up Today. >>>

  2. First90 is our coach-led, cohort-based program made for campus ministers to set their ministry up for long-term success. If you’re a campus minister, we equip you to work more effectively and better focus your time and energy on ministering to your students. Learn More Today. >>>

  3. Campus Minister Small Groups provide a space for campus ministers to set and accomplish personal and professional goals alongside other campus ministers with a Newman Coach as the guide. Join a Small Group Today. >>>

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