Neglected prayer was another important lesson Darrin highlighted as a mistake to be avoided in church planting. It is obvious that many responsibilities are crowding out prayer from a planter’s life.
If the leader doesn’t do many of the strategic and organisational tasks – the whole endeavour could fail. Although he acknowledged that he prayed1 Thessalonians5:17style – it was always on the run and not really organised or prioritised.
I think this is a danger for church leaders, pastors and preachers alike – and not just church planters… We are a generation of activists who treasure work above all. And somehow prayer doesn’t seem to be work. And, therefore, it is easily relegated to something a leader needs to do as something other than ‘work’.
This seems to be in stark contrast to Jesus’ high regard for prayer even in busy ministry times as well as Paul’s dedicated prayer life betrayed by his specific mention of his prayer for the believers in the churches he writes to in his epistles.
Darrin’s reminder is a timely call to re-evaluate the importance of prayer. It starts with prayer for yourself – as part of your relationship with God. That will become your emotional anchor in a ministry where you can always be tempted to find it in the wrong places.
If you are a pastor/preacher I think you should put in your diary prayer as a priority just as much as study, preparation, visitation and administration.
We need to be unashamed to tell an enquiring member of our congregation that we have spent our time praying for them. As John Piper reminded us, ‘brothers, we are not professionals’.
A good idea is to have an active prayer list that ‘pops-up’ on your PC – I found a Sticky widget (you can get one from Yahoo or Windows 7 usually has it). If you’re an Apple user – there are a few helpful apps.
I also use both our church directory as well as my diary prayer diary. I have a list of people I pray for every day of the month in such a way that I cover the whole church in 30 days.
Commit to pray with people in the church whether at small group, pastoral visits/meetings or even chance encounter – because prayer matters!