Going It Alone Ain’t in God’s Plan

“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”
(Romans 15:30-33)

 

          Pastor Wally has been speaking consistently about the need for fervent and corporate prayer. In Acts 1:14, we see that those gathered in the upper room “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”  Recently, I came across (was led to) the Romans passage (Romans 15:30-33) and I had to ask myself, “How often do I truly “strive” in prayer for our church, its leadership and our pastor and when I do pray, what do I ask God to provide? What does Paul mean when he tells us to “strive together” in prayer? C.H. Spurgeon, in a message he delivered on February 21, 1886, clarified that “He [Paul] knew his own weakness, he knew the difficulty of the work to which he had been called, he knew that if he failed in his enterprise it would be a sad failure, injurious through coming ages to the entire church. He cried, “Agonize for me,” because he felt that much depended upon him. It is like a man who is willing to lead the forlorn hope; but he says to his comrades, “You will support me.” It is like one who is willing to go into a far country, bearing his life in his hands; but he plaintively exclaims, “You won’t forget me, will you? Though you stay at home, you will think of me!…You see it is earnest prayer which Paul asks for, not the prayer which foams itself away in words; but prayer with force, with energy, with humble boldness, with intensity of desire, with awful earnestness; prayer which, like a deep, hidden torrent, cuts a channel even through a rock. His request was “that ye wrestle with me in your prayers to God for me”; and this is our request this day.”

 

This got me thinking about ministry and pastors.  At some level we understand the stresses of ministry, yet consider the following statistics:

75% of pastors report being “extremely stressed” or “highly stressed”

90% work between 55 to 75 hours per week

90% feel fatigued and worn out every week

80% will not be in ministry ten years later and only a fraction make it a lifelong career.

91% have experienced some form of burnout in ministry and 18% say they are “fried to a crisp right now”

 

One way that we as a church can ensure that our pastor doesn’t fall victim to these statistics is to “strive together” or to “struggle” or to “fight” – to “agonize” with Pastor Wally by praying on his behalf. In the movie, “The War Room,” Miss Clara said, “You’ve got to plead with God so that He can do what only He can do.  And then you’ve got to get out of the way and let Him do it.”  Does this characterize my prayer life?  C.H. Spurgeon went on in his message to say “When we pray, we should make a point of praying for something distinctly. There is a general kind of praying, which fails from want of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anyhow; possibly somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed…If you pray anyhow, if it be with sincerity, a measure of blessing results from it; but it will take a great deal of such praying to accomplish much. But if you plead for certain mercies definitely and distinctly, with firm unstaggering faith, you shall richly succeed.”  He concluded his message with this thought:  “Truth unknown, how can it enlighten? Truth not felt, how can it renew? There must therefore be the preacher to call attention to truth; but how shall they preach except they be sent? and how shall they be sent aright except in the power of the Holy Ghost? and how can we expect the Holy Ghost if we do not ask for his working? Wherefore, we pray you, wrestle together with us in your prayers that the Holy Ghost may go forth with the truth and by the truth.  This will be to your profit. No man hears his pastor preach without deriving some benefit from him, if he has earnestly prayed for him. The best hearers, who get the most out of a man, are those who love him best, and pray most for him. God can make us dry wells to you if you offer no prayers for us. He can make us clouds that are full of rain, if you have pleaded with God on our behalf.”

 

We as the body of Christ can be of ONE HEART AND SOUL in “pleading with God” not only on Pastor Wally’s behalf, but on behalf of all who are laboring for the sake of the Gospel. We ought to be “praying for something distinctly” on a Pastor’s behalf.  You can start by simply asking him how you can pray specifically for him and then to (as Miss Clara said) “plead with God so that He can do what only He can do.  And then…get out of the way and let Him do it.” 


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