Monday, July 1, 2013

The Ministry of Prayer


I am part of a new generation of pastors, a generation full of untold potential and revolutionary ideas.  This generation is seeking to transform ministry paradigms and one so accustomed to change that ministry without it would be excruciating.  My pastoral generation can be described as the replacement generation.  Many of us have replaced our navy blue JC Penney Stafford suits with blue jeans from the GAP and button down shirts from American Eagle (which we wear un-tucked just to annoy our predecessors).  We have replaced our pocket calendars with iPhones, and our Rolodexes with contact lists.  We have replaced Bill Gaither with David Crowder and Billy Graham with…, well we still love Billy Graham.  But in all this replacement my generation of pastors must remember that we can never replace the role of the pastor’s personal ministry of prayer.
We must never replace the ministry of praying for our people with something more productive
Church leaders have more to do than anyone can imagine. Most pastors preach twice or three times a week, sometimes more. We have meeting to attend. We have visions to cast. We have visits to make. We have wives and kids, soccer and dance. Plus most of us like to sneak in a round of golf. Time is precious and productivity is necessary if we are to survive. Satan will try to tell you as a church leader that spending extended periods of time praying for people is too idle for your action oriented occupation. Refuse to listen to Him. Pastors are called to take their people before the throne of God and agonize over them there. We must never replace this divine call with something that promises more “results” and seems more productive.
We must never replace the ministry of praying with our people with conversations geared more personally
Go to any city in the country and you will find the coffee club. In some places the coffee club consists of older gentlemen huddled around strong black coffee served in decade old white cups. In others the coffee club is a group of twenty to thirty somethings lounging with paper cups shielded by cardboard holders (preferably with green writing on them). In either case you will find groups seeking personal interaction, though the first group would die if you even used those words at their wooden table.  Pastors must seek to be part of this interaction. But we must never replace the moment when we go together with those same people into God’s presence through prayer. We must never neglect praying with God’s people.
We must never replace the ministry of praying over our people with words offered more prophetically
As a pastor you will be invited in people’s deepest tragedies and most glorious moments of joy. You will go to the hospital in the middle of the night as someone’s husband passes away with a heart attack. Then join that same lady as her first grand son is born. In those moments you feel very pastoral. In those moments you feel like you should offer some words of wisdom, some prophetic utterance from the throne.  In those moment’s people do ont need your wisdom, they need to hear you as you take their pain or joy before the throne as stand in the gap as God’s representative in their life. Pray over them and cover them with your prayer. Replacing prayer with prophetic words will rob those hurting or rejoicing people of the one thing they need most: to know you are representing them before the throne and calling God’s presence into their life.
I look at how much differntly I minister than did the pastors of previous generations.  Imagine pastoring with out Facebook to keep us connected, or Twitter to keep us informed. In the ministry world full of new ideas prayer is one that can never become outdated and repalced.