I have been thinking about the course I will soon teach in pastoral ministry. And I have gone to a little collection of prayers and thoughts about the ministry, The Minister’s Prayer Book, to do some reading. Indeed, I was so taken by the lofty thoughts of godly ministers through the years that I read, tonight,in family devotions, from the writings of the famous Scottish minister and professor, Dr. James S. Stewart. There I read of the priority in prayer for the minister, not just praying for a blessing on the people collectively (though one ought to do so), but praying for each name. Stewart mentions that this can only be done with some method. And there are many. For me, when I was pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, I requested a record of every birthday on our roll. In this way, I could actually pray for over two thousand people each year, by name. The benefit?
“And when you look into their faces on Sunday, as you lead their worship and proclaim to them afresh the all-sufficient grace of Christ, that background of your hidden intercessions, of your pleading for them name by name, will lift your words and wing them with love and ardor and reality. God will not refuse the kindling flame when secret prayer has laid its sacrifice upon the altar. you will prove in your own experience the truth to which that great soldier of the cross, Samuel Rutherford, gave expression long ago: ‘I seldom made an errand to God for another, but I got something for myself.'” (page 377).
And I turned the page to read, yet again, about the glory and privilege of prayer in the pastorate:
“I have prayed to be baptized into a sense of all conditions, that I might be able
to know the needs and feel the sorrows of all” (George Fox).
This of course is much like our Savior and much like St. Paul. And thus we must be for our people, praying pastors.
Please visit The Call with Mike Milton for more entries and resources for ministry.