Sunday night August 10 God spoke to my heart in a very clear way out on the porch after a long Lord’s Day of ministry. He challenged me to devote myself to prayer in the same way I have devoted myself to the ministry of the Word. The next morning God arranged an experience for me at the hospital early in the morning to challenge me to pray for every member and every regular attender of Evangel every week. He was not done.
Tuesday morning I got up and went for a walk around the pond. Hazard (our Yorkie) loves to walk and we have a great neighborhood for walking. Just north of our home is a park that is situated around a pond. I try to walk around the pond regularly. On this morning the lessons about prayer God was teaching me were fresh in my heart. Devote yourself to prayer in the same way you have devoted yourself to the ministry of the Word. Pray for every member and every regular attender at least every week.
On my walk I listened to a message by Pastor Francis Chan. In the message he was talking about a network of house church pastors he leads. He said something that shocked me. It went something like this: “I don’t care if the pastors are great preachers. What I want to know is this; Do they get down on their knees and pray for the people by name every week. Isn’t that the pastor you want. If you are not going to do that for your church I don’t want you to be one of our pastors.”
Immediately I know that God was speaking to my very own soul. I went home and watched a video version of the message. I asked our son Kyle to create a video clip from the message to share with the people and to remind me. Now there were three parts to what God was showing me:
1. Devote yourself to prayer in the same way you have devoted yourself to the ministry of the Word.
2. Pray for every member and every attender of Evangel every week.
3. Make prayer for the people a priority. If you don’t pray for people you aren’t really their pastor.
It was unmistakable. God was using a series of circumstances and reminders to guide me to a biblical truth that would transform my pastoral ministry. I was grieved because it was so simple and because it took me so long to see it.
I have always prayed for the people, but I moved through the membership slowly. I didn’t pray for every person every week. I didn’t devote myself to it. I didn’t carefully add people to the list who consider Evangel their home and me their pastor who had not yet formally joined. I knew I would have to make some changes. I wasn’t sure how.
I heard of a pastor in Oregon who had experienced a ministry revolution after years of frustration and three church splits. What he discovered about prayer transformed his life and his church. The church grew to over a thousand and became strong and unified. I had a remarkable conversation with him. I will tell what I learned from him in my next post. (Until then you can watch a clip of the message by Francis Chan below).
November 13, 2015