CALL TO PRAYER: The privilege of praying for your pastor
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is part of the call to prayer issued by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, to pray for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP) -- Our church recently completed a study based on Thom Rainer's eye-opening book "I Am a Church Member." In the book, Rainer shared practical insight for developing the right attitude about the part we play as members of the Body of Christ. I breezed through the first few chapters with an air of superiority. As the wife of a pastor for more than 15 years, I was completely proud of myself for being a "model" church member. After all, I was already obeying most of the principles articulated in the book. I kept thinking, "It sure would be great if 'brother and sister so-and-so' read this book." (Be honest. You know you have thought this too!)
I gleefully stood on my pedestal -- until I got to chapter four.
The title, "I Will Pray for My Church Leaders," hit me on the head like a ton of bricks, knocking me off my pedestal and down to my knees.
The moment I read the title, it struck me that I was the one who needed this book. I was not spending quality time daily in prayer for my pastor (who is my husband) and the other leaders of our church. (Bear with me while I confess.) I prayed daily like most Christians. I prayed for my family, my health, my needs, my wants, my desires, my struggles ... my, my, my. My. All about Me! Oh My! How selfish I was in my prayers! Nowhere in my prayers did I petition the Lord specifically for the needs of my pastor and leaders.
We mistakenly think our pastor doesn't need our prayers because when we see him, he is in the pulpit, often wearing a tailored suit and always a smile. We never want to think that our pastors and leaders might be struggling and desperately need our prayers.
Rainer challenges us to pray five minutes a day for our pastor. Only FIVE minutes. Who doesn't have five minutes, right?
Jesus is the Son of God; yet he understood the importance of prayer in ministry. In Luke 6:12, the Bible records Jesus going to a mountain to pray. He stayed there and prayed ALL NIGHT. As Christians, we should follow Jesus' example by spending ample time in prayer. While most of us understand we should pray, we have difficulty finding the time to pray. After looking at my own prayer life, I found that I struggled in three areas:
How often do we get up in the morning, get dressed, eat breakfast and rush out the door, certain that we will have time to pray later? But later never comes. By 10:30 p.m., I was exhausted from the busyness of the day, managing to whisper only a few words to the Lord before drifting off to sleep. To prioritize prayer, I had to prioritize my morning and designate a specific time to pray.
Learn what your pastor's needs are. Pray for his needs the way you pray for your own. It does not matter when you pray as long as you do pray. Put a daily reminder in your smartphone and take the time to pray for your pastor.
Persevere in prayer
You will find that when you decide to pray regularly for your pastor and the leaders in your church, many things will challenge your commitment. You may choose to start with prayer early in the morning, but on the day you begin, the baby wakes up crying at the same time. You may decide to pray on your lunch break at work, but find that other employees constantly interrupt. You may plan to pray in the evening, but your child's teacher sends extra homework that requires your help. Whatever the challenge, recognize that prayer honors God. Don't give up. Although you may struggle in the beginning to pray, what joy you will find when you persist.
Prayer is a privilege
What is your attitude toward prayer? Do you see prayer as just another chore added to your to-do list? Attitudes are important to God. View prayer as a privilege. See it as your opportunity to spend time with the One who loves you most. Ask God to give you a desire to pray.
I have struggled to be consistent. But I find that as I continue to pray, my love for the Lord, His church, and my spiritual leaders grows deeper. I hope you find this to be your experience as well.
Redunda Noble leads a women's Bible study, sings at church and serves alongside husband James Noble, pastor of Grace Fellowship Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn.