Now This Is Important

_corn_based_coffee_cups.jpgYesterday, I was reading a post about prayer and preaching.  I came across this quote by Kent Hughes (author of Liberating Ministry From the Success Syndrome).

 
"This, and what experience God so far has given me in preaching and
prayer, has brought a conviction. Should I ever write a book on
essentials for preaching, I know now that I would devote at least a
third of it to spiritual preparation in matters such as prayer. This
would be the first third
."

 
(Thanks to Colin Adams, Unashamed Workman, for this quote.)

 
Is he ever right!  Yet, I missed this for a number of years.  Oh, I would have said that I understood and believed it.  But — I did not.  Now, I can think of nothing that is more critical in ministry (I mean that in the sense of anyone who is being used by God to serve him in any way).   

 
There is nothing that can take the place of prayer in my own life as God prepares me for ministry.  There is nothing more important in any sort of preparation for preaching or teaching than prayer.  

 
As Hughes suggests, prayer is not just for the moment of ministry.  It is a part of God’s way of preparing you and me for ministry.  Prayer is not something that you do just before the moment of ministry.  Prayer is a part of abiding in Christ.  Prayer is about learning to live in dependence on him, moment by moment.  Prayer is a daily reminder of your helplessness before God and desperate need for him.

 
As I think about this week, I have been in several ministry settings in which I have prayed for people at very important moments.  Sunday, I prayed in our assembly on behalf of the family of one of our members whose brother was murdered this year.  At the same time, I also prayed on behalf of a man who was in a local hospital in ICU after a motorcycle accident just a day earlier.  There were several other settings in which I prayed with people during the week.  I led prayer in the hospital with one family and then in a home with another family.  At times during the week, several people asked me, "Will you pray for me?"

 
All of these are ministry situations that call for prayer.  Yet, not only do these situations call for me to pray, they require that I be a person of prayer.  This needs to take place long before I get these requests and have these opportunities.  Does that make sense?  Long before I pray for someone else in settings such as I just described, I need to first be a person of prayer in my daily life before God.   Such prayer may come in a variety of forms.  Perhaps I am praying as I read Scripture.  Maybe I am praying here and there as I go throughout my day.  Maybe I am using a prayer book such as The Little Book of Hours (which I have found quite helpful).

 
The point: Prayer doesn’t begin at the moment of ministry.  Prayer needs to begin in the normal course of my life as I live with God.  Then, prayer in moments of ministry will simply be a continuation of what is already happening in my life.

 
Yet, it is also important to know that people are praying for me.  In the past few days, I have asked a number of people to pray for me.  Why?  I recognize more and more that there is great power in having another intercede before God on my behalf.  There are seasons of life when the most important thing in my life may be knowing that there are people who are praying on my behalf.   

Prayer in ministry is not just important for someone in my role.  It is not just important for someone who is in a preaching/teaching role.  Prayer is vital for anyone who seeks to be used by God to make a difference in someone’s life.  

 
Does this connect with you today?  Do you feel as if you have grown in your prayer life?  In what way? 

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10 thoughts on “Now This Is Important

  1. One area of growth in my prayer life (which is nothing about which to brag) is that when people ask, “Will you pray for me?” I will usually respond, “Yes … can we pray right now?”

  2. I believe that prayer is very important since it it the way we talk to God. I try to pray as often as i can. i try especially to pray when i sit down for a meal in a public place. While i still live in the caribbean i saw this bumper sticker that read… seven prayerless days make one weak.. i thought that is so true..

  3. Thanks for the reminder!O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."-bill 

  4. How do you know you’re hearing from God? It’s not like He’s talking in an audible voice.  I have prayed, and thinking I was hearing God speak His will concerning what I pray, I act on it.  Only, it turns out in disaster.
    I don’t put God’s name on anything any more, nor do I hope for anything because if you don’t hope for something then you don’t get disappointed in the results.  Not sure that’s how it’s supposed to work though.
    Still, aren’t you afraid you’re only hearing your own voice and acting on what you think is God? I guess I just learned to live a day and what happens in it, happens.  It doesn’t seem like we have a choice but to wait and see what God does if we don’t know ourselves, and we don’t trust our ability to hear from Him.
    I wish God would just talk in an audible voice like He did with the earlier people.

  5. One sentence I ran across (somewhere) when I was younger that was very helpful – "Pray as you can, not as you can’t." Or something like that.  That sentence reminded me that even during those busy days of childrearing, I could snatch moments that came up during the day that I otherwise might have wasted. 
     
    Merton said something similar – "If you have never had any distractions, you don’t know how to pray."  He goes on to explain that the secret of prayer is a hunger for God, and that the man who has to manage to pray in the midst of clamoring ideas and thoughts and events may be forced to learn to pray better than he would have otherwise.  I have found this to be true.

  6. Yes. Like this weekend, when I watched some hard things go down in my spouse’s family. I thought, you know, I should be praying with my children NOW. Because if I ever face these kinds of things with my own children when they are grown, I don’t want it to be awkward, like the first time we’ve ever tried to pray together. It should be a way of life now. So…what to do… I just have to act on this thought in a meaningful way, and that will be the challenge.

  7. Thanks for such a great post. You said that "Prayer is a daily reminder of your helplessness before God and desperate need for him." This is so true….A life of prayer is that constant reminder that we are his servants on earth and are simply helpless without his love, grace and mercy.

     

  8. Richard,A very good comment.  I like what you say about a life of prayer being a constant reminder of who we are as his servants and of our helplessness as well.Thanks again.  I always appreciate your remarks. 

  9. L.L.,Isn’t it interesting how things in life will happen and it triggers thoughts regarding prayer, etc.  I appreciate your desire to pray with your children.  I wish you the very best as you seek to act on this desire.Just an aside— My children are grown now.  I can tell you that my children came to know their mother and dad’s hearts as their heard us pray aloud with them.  I think they came to know our hearts in ways they would not otherwise.  Likewise, I feel like I came to know the essence of their hearts as I listened to them pray aloud as well.  Just thought I would mention this because I really had never given this experience (the experience of coming to know one another’s hears) much thought in he early years.