THE PRAYING PASTOR
Many of the pastors I know (myself included) feel dissatisfied with their prayer life. Sometimes we let ourselves get too busy, other times we forget the importance of prayer. But all our hard work can never make up for what we miss out on when we don’t spend time in prayer. Jesus prayed often, sometimes all night long. Yet when He needed His disciples to pray with Him they fell asleep – three times! We know the importance and power of prayer. Over and over, we tell our people to pray. I’d like to remind you (and myself) of some important truths about prayer.
Prayer is our most important work. The growth of the early church kept the apostles busy, so much that they didn’t have enough time to pray, which was more important than anything else they did (Acts 6:4). To change this, they trained deacons to help with the work. That way they’d have more time to pray. Prayer and Bible study are our two most important activities. Paul says we are to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Start your day in prayer. Jesus did (Mark 1:35). How can we be like Him if we don’t first follow His example in prayer? If He needed time with the Father to start each day, how much more so do we need it? Go to bed earlier so you can get up 15 minutes earlier and spend the time with God.
Lead your church to be a praying church. Private pray is important, but so is group prayer. Organize times of prayer with the whole church, or other individuals in the church. That will teach your people how to pray and encourage them to pray for you and your ministry. When Charles Spurgeon hosted visitors to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, he often took them down to the church basement, which housed the prayer room. He would then declare, “Here is the powerhouse of this church.” He recognized that the prayers of his people were responsible for what God did through him in ministry.
Make your prayer requests specific, not general. Prayers like “God bless everyone” are worthless. Instead, name individuals and bring their needs to the Lord. Don’t tell God what to do in their lives. Pray the problem, not the solution. God knows the best solution to their problems. When we tell God what to do we often don’t see our prayers answered because often God has a different solution or something He wants to accomplish in their lives. Along with that, teach your flock to pray specific prayers. It won’t be long before they see that God is in the business of answering prayer (Matthew 7:7-8, John 5:14-15).
Pray Bible prayers or passages. There are times, even as pastors, when we don’t know how to pray or what to pray. Don’t despair – go to the Word. The book of Psalms is filled with prayers. The prayers of Paul are pure gold. The prayers of Jesus (Luke 11:1-4, John 17) instruct and model what true prayer is. Whether in private prayer or in church, be sure to utilize the prayers of the Bible. As you draw from the treasury of Scripture, it will enrich your prayers and provide a wonderful model for church members.
Make sure your home is filled with prayer. Include your wife in your prayer time as often as possible. “Where two or three ae gathered together (Matthw 18:20)” applies to prayer also. Don’t just pray at meals or standard devotion times, pray whenever possible. And always take time to stop and thank God for His answer and provision. Puritan Thomas Brooks once said, “A family without prayer is like a house without a roof, open and exposed to all the storms.” Don’t leave home without covering your family in prayer each morning. Be sure to challenge the husbands and fathers in your church to do the same
Prayer is our lifeline. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Pastor, do you believe this? Is prayer normal and natural for you? Is it modeled in your home? Remember that as a “man of God” (1 Timothy 6:11), you must be with God. Prayer is, in essence, the overflow of a heart that burns for God. You desire God and, therefore, must commune with God. It follows that prayer is not a secondary, “get to it if I can” kind of thing. It, along with Bible study (Acts 6:4), is your main business. Never neglect it.
Spend some time now praying, talking with God. Don’t give Him a list of what you want Him to do, just report for duty and listen to what He wants you to do.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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