Posted on Fri, Jul 4, 2008
Praying for Ministers
THE PREACHER’S CRY—PRAY FOR US!
“That the true apostolic preacher must have the prayers of others—good people to give to his ministry its full quota of success, Paul is a preeminent example. He asks, he covets, he pleads in an impassionate way for the help of all God’s saints, He knew that in the spiritual realm as elsewhere, in union there is strength; that the consecration and aggregation of faith, desire, and prayer increased the volume of spiritual force until it became overwhelming and irresistible in its power. Units of prayer combined, like drops of water, make an ocean that defies resistance”—E. M. B.
How far does praying for the preacher help preaching? It helps him personally and officially. It helps him to maintain a righteous life, it helps him in preparing his message, and it helps the Word preached by him to run to its appointed goal, unhindered and unhampered.
A praying church creates a spiritual atmosphere most favourable to preaching. What preacher knowing anything of the real work of preaching doubts the veracity of this statement? The spirit of prayer in a congregation begets an atmosphere surcharged with the Spirit of the Highest, removes obstacles and gives the Word of the Lord right of way. The very attitude of such a congregation constitutes an environment most encouraging and favorable to preaching. It renders preaching an easy task; it enables the Word to run quickly and without friction, helped on by the warmth of souls engaged in prayer.
Men in the pew given to praying for the preacher, are like the poles which hold up the wires along which the electric current runs. They are not the power, neither are they the specific agents in making the Word of the Lord effective. But they hold up the wires, along which the divine power runs to the hearts of men. They give liberty to the preacher, exemption from being straitened, and keep him from “getting in the brush.” They make conditions favorable for the preaching of the Gospel. Preachers, not a few, who know God, have had large experience and are aware of the truth of these statements. Yet how hard have they found it to preach in some places! This was because they had no “door of utterance,” and were hampered in their delivery, there appearing no response whatever to their appeals. On the other hand, at other times, thought flowed easily, words came freely, and there was no failure in utterance. The preacher “had liberty,” as the old men used to declare.
The preaching of the Word to a prayerless congregation falls at the very feet of the preacher. It has no traveling force; it stops because the atmosphere is cold, unsympathetic, unfavorable to its running to the hearts of men and women. Nothing is there to help it along. Just as some prayers never go above the head of him who prays, so the preaching of some preachers goes no farther than the front of the pulpit from which it is delivered. It takes prayer in the pulpit and prayer in the pew to make preaching arresting, life-giving and soul-saving.
The Word of God is inseparably linked with prayer. The two are conjoined, twins from birth, and twins by life. The Apostles found themselves absorbed by the sacred and pressing duty of distributing the alms of the Church, till time was not left for them to pray. They directed that other men should be appointed to discharge this task, that they might be the better able to give themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.
So it might likewise be said that prayer for the preacher by the church is also inseparably joined to preaching. A praying church is an invaluable help to the faithful preacher. The Word of the Lord runs in such a church, “and is glorified” in the saving of sinners in the reclamation of back-sliders, and in the sanctifying of believers. Paul connects the Word of God closely in prayer in writing to Timothy:
“For every creature of God is good,” he says, “and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. For it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.”
And so the Word of the Lord is dependent for its rapid spread and for its full, and most glorious success in prayer.
Paul indicates that prayer transmutes the ills which come to the preacher: “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” It was “through their prayer” he declares these benefits would come to him. And so it is “through the prayer of a church” that the pastor will be the beneficiary of large spiritual things.
In the latter part of the Epistle to the Hebrews, we have Paul’s request for prayer for himself addressed to the Hebrew Christians, basing his request on the grave and eternal responsibilities of the office of a preacher:
“Obey them that have the rule over you,” he says, “and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you. Pray for us; for we trust we have a good conscience in all things willing to live honestly.”
How little does the Church understand the fearful responsibility attaching to the office and work of the ministry! “For they watch for your souls as they that must give account.” God’s appointed watchmen, to warn when danger is nigh; God’s messengers sent to rebuke, reprove and exhort with all long-suffering; ordained as shepherds to protect the sheep against devouring wolves. How responsible is their position! And they are to give account to God for their work, and are to face a day of reckoning. How much do such men need the prayers of those to whom they minister! And who should be more ready to do this praying than God’s people, His own Church, those presumably who are in heart sympathy with the minister and his all-important work, divine in its origin.