Nov2WedNovember 2, 2016
Last week, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend a bridal store conference during which we enjoyed some vacation time (with no kids). As parents of four, we greatly look forward to time away. It gives us time to rest, laugh, and talk through our various stresses and goals. Of course we miss our children and our regular responsibilities during these moments, but it helps us focus on being unified in marriage – which affects everything else that we do. I highly recommend taking time to do this!
This particular week also allowed me to take a few days for a spiritual retreat. During this time, I spent several hours reading through the gospels, praying for everyone connected to FMC and seeking the Lord for vision for 2017. This kind of time is crucial for a healthy, Spirit-led ministry...and yet it’s so incredibly challenging.
Even as a pastor, my self-centered spirit and mind of efficiency can be fed by the enemy’s whisper to say, “prayer really isn’t that important.” If that were true, then Jesus was completely foolish to go away (multiply times) by himself and pray all night (see Luke 6:12). Charles Spurgeon once said, “Sometimes we think we are too busy to pray. That is a great mistake, for praying is a saving of time…If we have no time we must make time, for if God has given us time for secondary duties, He must have given us time for primary ones, and to draw near to Him is a primary duty.” In other words, prayer is a major event in the life of all Christians (not just pastors). It is something which must arrive at the top of our list – even if we struggle like Jesus’ disciples to know what to do in prayer.
Yet, it is so easy major in the minor elements of life, isn’t it? We easily give extra time to hobbies we enjoy, watching the World Series, counting our assets, purchasing more things and building outwardly beautiful lives. However, many of these things are so minor in comparison to abiding in Christ and demonstrating His love to the world.
When is the last time that you invested hours to encourage your spouse, listen to your neighbor, pray with a weak friend, pour out your heart in worship, eat around the dinner table with your loved ones? Nearly all of us would admit that these are important things. Yet they often get neglected because we ‘major in the minors’. This is especially true for our prayer lives (me included). This is a huge problem because, as E.M. Bounds wrote, “Satan has effectively disarmed us when he can keep us too busy doing things to stop and pray.” A prayer-less church is a powerless church.
I am seeking to grow as a praying pastor, praying husband and praying friend. I’ve been setting goals to move in that direction. Do you have a similar desire? This current sermon series is intended to nudge us into Psalms which can re-start our prayer lives. Likewise, next Thursday night (Nov 10th), we’ll be gathering in the sanctuary at 7:00pm for prayer and worship. As nations war against one another, governments change, families crumble and violence increases, what should we do? I believe we should follow Jesus’ example and turn our hearts intentionally back to God the Father. We need to major in the majors – and pray.