“It is no marvel that the pulpit is so powerless and ministers so often disheartened when there are so few who hold up their hands …. O, you blood bought churches, your ministers need your prayers!” (Gardiner Spring)
Is there any inconsistency between what we say and what we practice in regard to prayer and preaching? If we, as preachers, genuinely believe that our preaching is dependent for its power not on technique, ability, skill, etc., but rather on the power of God Himself. If we, as preachers, are aware of the spiritual battle that rages among believers and not-yet-believers during the weekly routine of church life. If we, as preachers, are aware of our own struggles and weaknesses in the complex experience of life and ministry. Well . . . shouldn’t the pursuit of prayer for the ministry be paramount in our many lists of priorities?
Do we diligently seek out prayer partners and ask them to stand with us? Not because we are somehow special individuals, but because the ministry we are involved in is itself a special task for which we are inadequate? Do we express to our listeners our need for prayer, or do we give the impression, even inadvertently, that we have it all together?
And finally, what about intercessory prayer meetings before and during and after the preaching of the Word? In some circles this is standard practice. In others it is unheard of. Why? If it is a spiritual battle, if it is by God’s strength alone, if it is a task too great for us to handle in our strength, then why not? As I look back on last Sunday’s ministry, perhaps my greatest regret is that I didn’t request a simultaneous prayer gathering – even just two or three people praying for those listening, for the one speaking, for God’s power in it all.
(And just to be consistent with what I have written, here’s a link to our last couple of mini-updates . . . if you can spare a couple of minutes, I’d really value your prayers – http://pouredout.org/?page_id=580 – let me know if you’d like to receive our prayer letter regularly.)