Happy Tuesday #Jontourage,
Welcome back to the “Classy Gent Chronicles”, where staying classy is the only way to be. In this week’s edition, read about a new life-changing challenge over the last year...my prayer journey.
So for the longest time, I have wanted to improve my prayer life. Faith is a constant journey. For years, I would start, then stop, then start again, and stop again. I guess this time around, God had other plans. Over the last year, my mentee Dmitri and I have been on a prayer journey together where every day for an entire year, we prayed together. Before we go any further, I guess I owe y’all a story about how I met Dmitri.
So back in 2017, I found out Dmitri was one of my students for the upcoming school year. I created a group chat with all of my future students to help connect with them and so that they could get to know each other better. Dmitri was shy so anytime I wrote something in the group chat, he would always respond to me in a separate chat instead of with the entire group. As a result, I got to know him a lot better than most of my other students. Throughout the year, we found out about all the things we had in common, like both of us being class valedictorians, both of us being WWE fans, both of us being from the same area, and both of us being younger brothers. During the summer break of his freshmen year, he would always FaceTime just to check on me and we would chat for hours. Our bond has always been strong. After a while, he became my mentee and I became his mentor. That’s a whole different blog post for a different day. Nonetheless, being his mentor has helped me learn a lot about myself and the areas I need to grow in.
As black men, I wanted to show the world that you can work together to accomplish a common problem even if your needs are Dmitri. He doesn't pray for the same things I do and vice versa but we both wanted help with our prayer life. After we accomplished praying every day for a year, we celebrated with Panda Express who graciously sponsored our meal in full. Thank you to Panda Express for celebrating with us.
After completing our prayer journey, we decided to honor the accomplishment with a photo shoot. For me, I understand the power of a platform. If us praying every day for a year can inspire someone else to start or stay committed to a goal, then I am happy to open up about my life experiences. Undergoing a prayer journey with someone else definitely teaches you a lot about your prayer partner and also a lot about yourself. Since Dmitri is such a great mentee, he has agreed to co-write this blog post with me. Opening up about your life on a blog is one thing but asking someone else to do it too is very honorable so I am grateful. Without any further ado, let's get into it:
1. Why did you agree to embark on this prayer journey?
Jonathan: From what I remember, it started because Dmitri was going through something. We were texting about an issue he was having so I recommended that we pray about it. As his mentor, I always try to provide him with good advice but I also encourage him to seek God in areas where he feels stuck. We had prayed that one time. He told me he felt better about his situation so I kept it going from there. Over time, he grew to like praying daily and would even hit me up if I did not reach out first to pray. Sometimes, other people would ask to join in on the nightly prayer and we always welcomed them with open arms. I would never turn someone away who wanted to get closer to God and/or accomplish a goal to improve. I would set a reminder every night at 10 pm but reach out to Dmitri about prayer so that I held myself accountable to hit him up to do the prayer. P.S. Lil fella is his nickname in my phone in case you were wondering.
Dmitri: To be honest I never remembered agreeing, it just became a daily routine for us after a while.
2. How has your life changed over the last year due to daily prayer?
Jonathan: I feel like I am a completely different person. From a professional standpoint, I have prayed that God gives me new opportunities to make a bigger impact on the world. Since we started the prayer journey, I have been blessed to have given a TEDx talk which opened the doors to multiple interview requests. I became the co-founder of a virtual men’s conference called “Destination Success” which Dmitri also collaborated with me on. I was approved as the founder and director of the inaugural TEDxFortWashington.
From a personal standpoint, my mind is a lot more focused and I feel more confident. I prayed that God surrounds me around better, more progressive individuals. I have since then been connected with people who are very successful and have an interest in growth. I was able to lose 100 pounds from July 2019 to April 2020 and prayer was a huge factor in keeping me focused.
Dmitri: I have definitely been able to achieve more of my goals and solve more of my problems in better ways. I have turned to prayer for almost every situation now.
3. What was the most challenging part of this prayer journey?
Jonathan: Not going to lie the hardest part was continuing the prayer if Dmitri and I weren’t seeing eye to eye. Generally, if I’m frustrated with someone for whatever reason, I value having my own space so I can reflect and just decompress. When you are doing a prayer journey with someone, you still have to pray together even when you have days you don’t want to be around them. It was humbling for me to have multiple points throughout the year when we were frustrated with each other but I still had to hit him up and pray. It is harder than it sounds. We had three times over the last year where we weren't on the same page personally but we still never missed a single day of prayer.
Dmitri: The hardest part was being open with someone else about my prayers. Showing my vulnerability to someone, telling them what I’m afraid of, or scared of and praying about it with someone else. I’m usually a private person but I had to open up to pray about it.
4. What was the most fun part of this prayer journey?
Jonathan: Watching the prayers actually come true. Sometimes, Dmitri and I would pray at 10 pm about something and by 10 am the next morning, the thing we were praying about came to life.
Dmitri: strengthening my faith has been the most fun part.
5. What did you learn about your prayer partner during this prayer journey?
Jonathan: I learned how many feelings Dmitri has. I met him as a 17-year old kid who came off as though not a lot of things bothered him. Deep down, I knew they did because he’s a human being after. Over the last year on this prayer journey, I got to see a new side of him, a more vulnerable side. He has prayed about having to choose between various options in his life, fixing relationships with people who may have hurt him, and more. I’m proud of him for being more open about where he falls short or where he feels frustration in his life. Since I have seen him open up more, he has been able to fix the issues and I have seen a lot of things improve for him. I always want to see him win.
Dmitri: I learned that he is very adamant on achieving his goals. He prayed everyday to stay on track with his weight loss journey and still does after achieving his goal.
6. How does year two look different than year one?
Jonathan: I foresee us speaking with other guys about our prayer journey. Mental health is extremely important especially among young black men so we need more people who are willing to be transparent. Although I’m not here to push religion on anyone, there are a lot of people who want to have a stronger presence of faith in their lives and I believe our prayer journey could help someone else out.
Dmitri: Year two isn’t going to look much different for me. We will continue praying everyday.
7. What advice would you give to someone starting a prayer journey?
Jonathan: Make time for it. As simplistic as it’s sounds, you can easily fall asleep and before you know it, it’s now the next day and you’ve missed your prayer time. If you are going to do the prayer journey with another person, be prepared to be open. Prayer is about seeking guidance and getting support so if you’re not going to open up, you’re missing a chance to get the help you need.
Dmitri: Advice I would give is to be intentional and to be open. Don’t just pray about things and not work towards what you prayed for, because most likely the thing you prayed for won’t happen. Also be open, pray about the things you need prayer for.
Moral of the Story: Prayer truly changes things. It doesn’t happen overnight but if you stay committed to prayer and do the work, you will see the change.
Remember, in order to live out your dreams, you have to think it, feel it, live it! Until next time, stay classy...
For more Classy Gent Chronicles blog post, be sure to visit https://www.authorjon.com/blog
Jonathan C. Harris is no stranger to leadership, hard work, or success. At the age of ten years old, he earned the right to be a guest weatherman for a day on Fox 5 DC News. He has already received over 100 honors and awards including Forty Under 40 for Prince George’s County, MD, TEDx Talk speaker, American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Outstanding Men’s Program, high school Valedictorian and the Kiwanis Club Citizenship Award. Raised in Fort Washington, Maryland, he has served in leadership positions his entire life, from being the manager of the school store in elementary school to the president of the Homelessness Awareness Club in middle school to the president of the National Honor Society in high school.