Prayer is the pastor’s power and priority. It’s what we do, right? I mean, is not prayer the great calling of the clergy, the privilege of the pastor, the mandate of the minister, the first business of the bishop, and the desperate shout of the shepherd? Hey, that’s a pretty good description of prayer. Now, why don’t I live it?!
If you’re like me, you never feel as though you've prayed enough. All too often I find myself in a shortage of prayer. Maybe you do too. Why is that? Here are some reasons why I think this is so:
I get too distracted. I mean I do start to pray, but inevitably I get distracted by a phone call, a dinging task notification from my smartphone, an email, a noise, a bird, an errant fleeting thought, or the memory of a specific play in the Laker’s game from last night. Why is it when I set myself down to pray, I just get so easily distracted?!
I don’t have time. I woke up a few minutes too late, hurried through my morning routine, and planned to pray in the office. But then there was someone who needed to talk with me, mail waiting to be opened from yesterday, an urgent request from a needy person, my task list staring at me, and that message I had to start just to make sure it got off the ground before Wednesday. Between my ministry, my graduate courses, my wife and kids, and Angry Birds, I just ran out of time.
I completely forget. Sometimes it’s like this – I meant to pray today, but honestly it just never crossed my mind. My first waking thought was how I would approach my 2:00pm appointment with someone who wanted to share “just a few concerns about our ministry.” Then, one thing led to another, and before I knew it I was on my way home for supper… at 6:45, and it had never crossed my mind all day to pray. That is somewhat troubling and disconcerting to me now that I think of it.
I wonder if it will really make any difference after all. We pray and pray for people, and then they die anyway. Sometimes I am reluctant to pray too specifically for someone who is sick, for fear that they will not be healed, and my God will look weak, or worse – unconcerned with their plight. If God is in control of all things, isn’t he already in control of basically any request I might send his way. I wonder sometimes if my prayers should be mostly relational/conversational, and hardly at all requestional.
It is not a priority to me. Perhaps I have just not made it a priority. But why haven’t I? I’m a pastor doggone it! If anyone should have prayer as a priority it should be me. Now I feel sufficiently guilty for my intermittent prayerlessness. I do believe that if there is one thing that I put off today to do tomorrow, it should not be prayer. Prayer should be the foundation of my day, of my ministry, of my life. Not sure where that leaves me. I’d better start doing… better!
If I were honest with myself and you, I would say those five reasons are truer than I care to admit. I want to grow in this area of prayer, because I really do believe that prayer is our first priority as pastors. I want to believe it so much that I never "forget to pray".
So this week, our topic here at 200churches.com is going to be prayer. On Wednesday our podcast will focus directly on how, as pastors, we handle this area of prayer. Then on Friday, we will have a concluding post on our way forward, and how we might positively embrace our relationship with Jesus through prayer. I hope that we are all encouraged and inspired to enjoy this gift of prayer – talking to the one who loves us most! Remember, no matter the size of your church, your godly, and prayerful leadership of your church family matters HUGE in the Kingdom of God!
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