Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pray for your pastor

"And who and what are ministers themselves? Frail men, fallible, sinning men, exposed to every snare, to temptation in every form; and from the very post of observation they occupy, the fairer mark for the fiery darts of the foe. They are no mean victims the great Adversary is seeking, when he would wound and cripple Christ's ministers. One such victim is worth more to the kingdom of darkness than a score of common men; and on this very account, the temptations are probably more subtle and severe than those encountered by ordinary Christians. If this subtle Deceiver fails to destroy them, he artfully aims at neutralizing their influence by quenching the fervor of their piety, lulling them into negligence, and doing all in his power to render their work irksome. How perilous the condition of that minister then, whose heart is not encouraged, whose hands are not strengthened, and who is not upheld by the prayers of his people! It is not in his own closet and on his own knees alone that he finds security and comfort and ennobling, humbling and purifying thoughts and joys; but it is when his people also seek them in his behalf that he becomes a better and happier man and a more useful minister of the everlasting gospel."

Gardiner Spring, The Power of the Pulpit, pages 223-224.

I have been ordained for 33 years now, but I have never before been so aware of faithful ministers under intense distress and temptation and outright attack. I myself am in green pastures and beside still waters, for which I am grateful. But it is not so for many others right now. Unable to see the battles being fought in the heavenlies and unwilling to speculate about them, I can plead that every church organize regular prayer for her pastor.

I have never seen a faithful pastor too much prayed for, too much encouraged, too much loved and cheered on, though I have seen members oddly concerned that the pastor be reminded of how dispensable he is, how inadequate he is, and so forth. The result, and maybe the intention, is weak churches.

In these times of intense pressure on us all, half-way Christianity is no longer a credible option. It's all for Christ or nothing. Our churches are the front line of spiritual battle, and the pastors are at the forefront of the battle. Pray for your pastor, encourage him, empower him. If the battle is to be won in our generation, it will be a shared victory. We stand or fall together.