Prayerless Pastors: Part Two

This is a short series on the need to reform prayer in ministry. Part One can be found here. In Part Three we will examine some of the more practical features of ministerial prayer life. This is not meant to be a scholarly treatment of the subject but a few scattered thoughts I have been sitting on for a long time.

#2 It is practiced in the home

There is no more important ministry than the one God providentially gives us through our families. Prayer is a key aspect of a family’s daily worship. I believe true family worship should be neither manufactured nor only for certain seasons. I think some well-meaning Christians have gone too far in this area and have made laws out of preferences. Nevertheless, the general direction that we try to follow in our house is to treat all of life as an opportunity to worship and enjoy God through His creation (cf. Deut. 6:4-9). This forces us to think of worship as more than just formal times where we sit down together to sing, read or pray.

However, there are also special times and seasons where we gather and focus our attention upon the Lord. It is not my intention to discuss the dynamics and peculiarities of what is commonly called “family worship” here. Others have ably dealt with this subject in other resources and I’m well aware that there is a diversity of opinions in this area. My simple point is that we are nothing in public ministry if we are not praying with and for our most intimate relationships which is of course our families. Whether in the morning, over meals, before bed, on the way to church, a case can be made for all times. To be clear, my concern is not timing but doing, not formality but faithfulness, not perfection but direction. Employing a little math, some have figured out that we will have 5,630 occasions to pray, read, and worship with our children over an eighteen year period (outside of Sunday worship). As I look at my two young ones and the third that will join us soon, I know that some of those 5,630 opportunities are already passed but today is a precious opportunity to practice prayer in my home with those who witness my ministry first-hand.

#3 It flows over the sacred desk

Ministerial prayer flows over the sacred desk on Sunday morning. The phrase “sacred desk” is commonly used to refer to pulpits and the character of the responsibilities that should take place there. However, I think we can understand this phrase in a wider context. My sacred desk is present whenever I am called upon to unfold the Word of God. This has taken place at home, in prisons, schools, by the side of hospital beds, at funerals and every Sunday behind the pulpit in my church. Your sacred desk might be a kitchen table where you are discipling your progeny to be faithful to the Lord and discern truth from fiction. Or your sacred desk might be a regular lunch meeting you have with a guy in your church who struggles to put off sinful habits and has come to you for help. Your sacred desk could be to a coworker who keeps asking you why you can have so much hope when the world seems like such a wicked place. Wherever God gives you an opportunity to unpack the rich bounty of His Word, that is your “sacred desk” and prayer should be present.

Those to whom we minister should hear us pray and pray often. We shouldn’t just tell our people to “trust God” we should show them how by exhibiting persevering prayer. The Apostle Paul viewed prayer as a means of grace that fueled his ministry of the Word. He let the churches know that God used prayer to further his preaching and missionary ministry (cf. Rom. 15:30; 2 Cor. 1:11; Phil. 1:19). Pastors have a unique opportunity to not merely “deliver” a prayer on Sunday but to lead through their public prayers. How do we encourage our people to pray more fervently and patiently? How do we get them to see the richness of communion with Christ over the humdrum? I would suggest we teach them the prayers of Scripture which provide a rich tapestry of faithful example and steadfastness. Furthermore, we pastors can let our ministerial prayers be an encouragement to people who struggle with this spiritual discipline. More than our jokes, our announcements and the endless opportunities to rehearse the mundane our congregations need transparent, humble prayer from their leadership.

On this note I was encouraged by this reminder from James Usher, “We have assurance that we shall be heard in what we pray, because we pray to that God that heareth prayer, and is the rewarder of all that come unto Him; and in His name, to whom God denieth nothing; and, therefore, howsoever we are not always answered at the present, or in the same kind that we desire, yet, sooner or later, we are sure to receive even above that we are able to ask or think, if we continue to sue unto Him according to His will.”

to be continued…


One response to this post.

  1. thanks for these important posts. It is crucial that believers return to a life of prayer.

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