Monday is my day off. Now that most of the children are grown I almost always work most of the day, but I rarely go into the study at church. Some Mondays I will have a funeral or a hospital call or an emergency. On Monday morning, August 10th I had a hospital call early in the morning. I rose about five a.m. and made my way to the hospital. I was there to pray with a woman before her surgery. She and her family mentioned another family from the church who was there in the hospital that morning. Neither of us could remember their names. I knew someone who would remember and taking a risk that I would wake them up I called. It was 630 a.m. Immediately they answered and told me the name of the family.
I found them in the hospital and visited with them. As I drove away from the hospital that morning I had two things on my mind. First, I wanted to get a cup of coffee and some breakfast. The other thought wasn’t so pleasant. It came in the form of a gentle rebuke. It was that inner voice from the Spirit speaking to me again as He had the night before out on the porch.
“You didn’t remember their names, but they have been faithfully listening to you preach for eight years.”
The family had not officially joined our church so their contact information fell through the cracks of our system and even though they came almost every week, their names did not come to my mind. Something about that just isn’t the way it should be. It was as if the Lord said to me in my heart, “If you prayed for them every week you would remember their names. You don’t remember their names because you don’t pray for them.”
A pastor is a shepherd. To shepherd the flock you have to know they flock. The very first step in knowing someone is knowing their name.
As I drove away from the hospital that morning the sun was coming up. I prayed. “Yes, Lord. Please forgive me and help me. By your grace and help I will make it my goal never to preach to people that I have not prayed for by name that week if at all possible.”
I thought about it over breakfast and I had an idea about how I could begin to devote myself to prayer in the same way I have devoted myself to the ministry of the Word for the last thirty-five years. I had a strong feeling in my heart that God was teaching me something very important, something vital to my ministry as a pastor. He wasn’t done. Walking around the pond in a neighborhood park the next day He would teach me more. I will tell you that story tomorrow.
November 12, 2015