The Heart of a Pastor | Prayerlessness1
I have to confess something: all day yesterday there was a deep desire to just cancel Second Tuesday Prayer (our monthly elder-led prayer gathering for Missio Dei Church). I just didn't feel like praying. It has been very busy season of life for the Vroom family and honestly, I just wanted to take the night off, but I pushed forward.
Some of you are reading this with your jaw on the ground, just amazed that a pastor didn't want to lead his congregation in prayer, that he didn't want to have an intimate conversation with the God of the universe! You are ready to call an elder to inquire whether or not to have me removed from office. Others of you understand. The reality is that I am being honest... the first step towards recovering a healthy prayer life.
Well, I didn't cancel Second Tuesday Prayer and five others showed up for our monthly time of prayer. We had small talk, shared some stories, and eventually our prayer requests. Then I shared a quote from E.M. Bounds,
Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.
Then we started... After some of my cursory prayers, God reminded me of my poor attitude towards prayer... He impressed upon me my prayerless life. Immediately, I began to make excuses and point the finger like any good son of Adam (Genesis 3:8-12):
- I am still exhausted from the doing all the renovations on the Missional Outpost for You!
- God, it has been a busy Advent season with all the sermons, children's programs, special meals, etc.!
- We just got back from a long family trip to Iowa for a Christmas celebration.
- I was up early for Elder Nominee Training (5:45 AM). Who wouldn't want a break...
- God, for some reason, I am working harder at writing sermons for Your people... I need some time to recoup!
- I'm tired...
Needless to say, after listing out my excuses, I was stopped in my tracks. I was confronted with the true condition of my soul. In my busy, distracted life, I couldn't afford to fit prayer into my crowded life because it will likely not fit in.
The reality is that God never intended prayer to be the stray sock we jam into our tightly packed lives. Prayer is not to be an after thought or just a monthly prayer gathering that we can somehow justify doing because it is only once a month, but prayer is to be of a priority in the life of a healthy, growing disciple. If Jesus thought it was worthwhile to pray, we should also. If He needed to pray to remain in the Father’s will, how much more do we need to pray?
As our time in prayer progressed, I confessed out loud to God "prayerlessness" for myself and for our church. I prayed that our church would have heart for communing with God, praying for each other, yearning for "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).
I desire for our church to be a praying church... not just a church that happens to pray, but a church whose DNA is always found in prayer:
- “pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- “praying at all times in the Spirit... making supplication for all the saints” Ephesians 6:18
- “pray for one another...” James 5:16
- “in everything by prayer... let your request be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
I came home and God reminded me of the E.M. Bounds quote that I used to open up our prayer time. That quote echoed around in my still hungering, somewhat empty heart feeling like it needed completion and explanation. So, this morning I found and read Bounds' short booklet called "Power Through Prayer." I found the rest of the quote:
Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned well how to talk to God for men. More than this, prayerless words in the pulpit and out of it are deadening words.
Oh, Lord, forgive my (our) prayerlessness. Forgive my propensity to make excuses to pray. Forgive my somehow rationalizing that prayer is secondary to busyness.
May my (our) newly, invigorated prayer life (modified from Bounds' booklet):
- freshen our hearts,
- keep us in tune with God and in sympathy with His people,
- lift our ministry out of the chilly air of this world,
- fructify routine and move every wheel with the facility and power of a divine unction.
Who will join me in cultivating a prayer-filled life?
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Peter Brokaar Jan 9, 2013 @ 2:48 pm
Super Paul! Cannot think of anything more important for us in today's Church than re-learning how to pray.
Since last year REALLY been spurred on by some of George Otis' stuff (Some great resources at Sentinel Group's website) who talks about transforming (desperate) prayer. Also, got E.M Bounds for Christmas - looking forward to starting it (I think!)