Brothers, pray for us

If Paul, Silas, and Timothy needed the prayer of the saints in 1 Thessalonians 5:25, surely your pastor needs your prayers as well. Paul closes this letter as he began with an emphasis on prayer.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 1:2-3)

He says in effect, “I prayed for you so you pray for me. Let’s pray for each other.”

While Pastor Rich and his family are on vacation this week, this is a good time to start praying for him—if you do already, continue.

I came across this thought some time ago by E.M. Bounds (1835-1913):

It may be put down as a spiritual axiom that in every truly successful ministry prayer is an evident and controlling force-evident and controlling in the life of the preacher, evident and controlling in the deep spirituality of his work. A ministry may be a very thoughtful ministry without prayer; the preacher may secure fame and popularity without prayer; the whole machinery of the preacher’s life and work may be run without the oil of prayer or with scarcely enough to grease one cog; but no ministry can be a spiritual one, securing holiness in the preacher and in his people, without prayer being made an evident and controlling force.

The preacher that prays indeed puts God into the work. God does not come into the preacher’s work as a matter of course or on general principles, but he comes by prayer and special urgency. That God will be found of us in the day that we seek him with the whole heart is as true of the preacher as of the penitent. A prayerful ministry is the only ministry that brings the preacher into sympathy with the people. Prayer as essentially unites to the human as it does to the divine. A prayerful ministry is the only ministry qualified for the high offices and responsibilities of the preacher. Colleges, learning, books, theology, preaching cannot make a preacher, but praying does. The apostles’ commission to preach was a blank till filled up by the Pentecost which praying brought. A prayerful minister has passed beyond the regions of the popular, beyond the man of mere affairs, of secularities, of pulpit attractiveness; passed beyond the ecclesiastical organizer or general into a sublimer and mightier region, the region of the spiritual. Holiness is the product of his work; transfigured hearts and lives emblazon the reality of his work, its trueness and substantial nature. God is with him. His ministry is not projected on worldly or surface principles. He is deeply stored with and deeply schooled in the things of God. His long, deep communings with God about his people and the agony of his wrestling spirit have crowned him as a prince in the things of God. The iciness of the mere professional has long since melted under the intensity of his praying.

The superficial results of many a ministry, the deadness of others, are to be found in the lack of praying. No ministry can succeed without much praying, and this praying must be fundamental, ever-abiding, ever-increasing. The text, the sermon, should be the result of prayer. The study should be bathed in prayer, all its duties impregnated with prayer, its whole spirit the spirit of prayer.

I’d be the first to admit his writing is hard to follow (it is a 100 years old). The point is no prayer—no spiritual success. So pray for your pastor! When praying for the Pastor and you are not sure what to pray for, here are a few suggestions: that he will be continually filled with the Holy Spirit; that he will have a strong marriage and believing children; that he will be kept from the allurements of love of money, sexual sin, and pride; that he will be faithful to Jesus Christ, and faithful to the sheep which God has appointed him as a shepherd. That will get you started.

And don’t forget to pray that Rich and his family will return home rested and safe—ready to preach the Gospel this Sunday.

Chris Nyland

[excerpt from E.M. Bounds is from Preacher and Prayer, page 37-39]