Monday, October 22, 2007

"Quote; Unquote"

"Busyness does not equal effectiveness."
Doug Fields, What Matters Most


See the archive of the Zondervan Quote of the Day and put the widget on your site.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pastors Retreat Network

Pastors Retreat Network’s 10th Anniversary is a time to celebrate all that God has accomplished through this ministry to date. And we invite you to join in the celebration at our online Virtual Reunion. Click here to share your most meaningful retreat memories—and be blessed by those of others.

As we look back with gratitude, we’re also looking forward with excitement! Four recent developments give a hint of the growth and fruit that lie ahead:

New Board Members
Pastors Retreat Network cherishes the wise counsel of our Board members. And two more outstanding leaders have just “come on Board”—Eric Halvorson, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Salem Communications Corporation, and Ken Blackwell, the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy and an editor and columnist for Townhall.com.

Ambassadors Program
Would you be willing to tell a few friends what Pastors Retreat Network has meant to your life and ministry? Our new Ambassadors Program makes doing so easier than ever.

Success Stories
Every week, Pastors Retreat Network is changing lives and hearts. Two new “success stories” give a very personal perspective on why we do what we do:







In A Ship Righted,” campus pastor Jim Musser shares how his first retreat renewed real intimacy with the Lord and helped him to chart some unknown waters.

In Ministering to Ministers,” Board Member Tom Wilson tells why he cares so deeply about the hearts of pastors—and why he is so grateful for the work of Pastors Retreat Network.






2008 Dates Now Available
Is a 2008 retreat in your future? Available dates for all three retreat centers are now posted on the Pastors Retreat Network Web site. To request an invitation, click here.

Yes, Pastors Retreat Network has a terrific 10-year history. And our greatest days are yet to come. Thanks for being a special friend of this ministry!

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Models an effective, regular, growing prayer life

Chapter 8

Prayer Life:

Models an effective, regular, growing prayer life

>>>Click here to access an interview with a co-author of this book . . .

“Prayer is the key to growing your church!”

“If your church isn’t growing, it’s because you’re not praying!”

A quick and unanimous “Amen” must be given to the idea that effective ministry flows from effective prayer, but for many pastors, statements like these hang around their necks like ill-fitting neckties. Even the most pragmatic, culturally relevant Christian leaders dare not disagree with such clear spiritual truth, but instead of prayer being a life-giving relationship that fortifies their lives and ministries, it becomes a means to image enhancement, a choking experience of spiritual duty. “Expert” pastors sell us a formula for how to “pray so your church will grow.” Such pragmatism can turn the beauty of prayer into a burden.

The distance between prayer as a method and prayer as a lifestyle is deceptive—it’s like the mirage that seems so near and satisfying, yet is never reached. When pastors treat prayer as a means to an end, it degenerates into self-serving spiritual speech that leaves them spiritually thirsty.

The pastor’s prayer time often takes one of five forms:

    1. Be-good prayers: “Lord, I’m trying to be a good boy/girl and do my duty for You.”

    2. Bargaining prayers: “Lord, I’m putting in my time here and I expect some results in return for this effort.”

    3. Bellyache prayers: “Lord, I’m here to tell You how I really feel about the deacon board and especially John Big-Yap.”

    4. Bless me prayers: “Lord, I’m going to give You a 20-minute speech with words I’ve learned from someone who seems to get results from You.”

    5. Battle-on prayers: “Lord, I’m going to scream at some demons for the next hour to help me feel better about the spiritual scene in my church.”

Such prayers lack power because they lack either authenticity or accuracy. They may soothe the conscience of a pastor who is trying hard, but they fail to bring genuine help to him or his church.

Effective pastors have moved beyond prayer as a means—they have grown beyond the emptiness of ritual. They model a life of effective, regular, growing prayer that is relational at its core and believe in the power of prayer to influence their lives, the life of the Church and the world around them. This life of prayer permeates all aspects of the pastor’s private and public life.


Lifting Hands to Heaven

Pastor Harold Taves was stricken with polio at a young age. For the rest of his life, he was unable to lift his left arm more than a few inches. Harold was a simple man of faith who responded to God’s call, and over the course of his life, was a pastor in a few small Midwestern towns.

Few people will remember his name, except for those who had the joy of being in one of his little churches. Harold was an effective pastor because he was a pastor who had tapped into a relationship with God through prayer.

People frequently came into the church office to find Harold in prayer, often at the altar with tears streaming down his face. To this day I can see him, his good arm extended toward heaven, lifting the burden of one of his people before the Lord.

This life of prayer sustained Harold through challenges and disappointments. It altered the spiritual atmosphere of the worship services. It changed homiletically weak sermons into curiously compelling insights that reverberated in the hearts of those who listened.

Although I don’t remember one sermon he ever preached on prayer, Harold taught me to pray. His anticipation of what God could do through prayer lifted me above my pathetic process of giving a wish list to God. He and God were friends, and it showed in their conversations.

Effective pastors understand the priority, the power and the privilege of stretching out their entire being to God in prayer. As David cried out in Psalm 141:2, they long for their prayers to be pleasing to God: “May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.”

This picture of hands spread out to heaven carries with it a gripping engagement for the heart of the effective pastor. Paul knew the power of being a leader who lives with a hands-to-heaven approach. While writing to his son in the faith, he challenged all believers: “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing” (1 Tim. 2:8).

Hands lifted to the sky are an almost universal sign of surrender, indicating “yieldedness” and the need for help. Understood in this way, lifted hands are the ultimate symbol for true prayer, which is predicated on self-surrender. It is empowered only by throwing oneself fully onto the mercy of God and then boldly requesting His assistance.

Pastor Moses is our instructive example of this characteristic. Exodus 17:11 says, “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.” Moses’ staff was his emblem of leadership—it was the outward symbol of his call, authority and ability. As he lifted his staff to heaven in an act of dependency, surrender and intercession, victory for the people of God was connected to the act of Moses remaining in a posture of prayer—hands to heaven, leadership offered to God. There is something powerful and effective when a leader lifts hands to heaven on behalf of God’s people.

This is the posture that effective pastors live in. One of the most powerful things a pastor can do for her church is to surrender herself to God in a relationship of prayer, interceding for the victory of her people. Prayer alone is not enough, but if you don’t start and continue in prayer, whatever else you do will never be enough.

The hands-to-heaven mind-set is characterized by three dimensions of a thriving prayer life: Identity, Integration and Intervention. Effective pastors, in their own language and means, progress in these three dimensions of prayer.


Identity Prayer

Hands-to-heaven prayer opens us to the deep work of God of forming our hearts. Identity prayer reveals, shapes, secures and sustains the pastor. It invites the searchlight of the Holy Spirit in so that any sin lurking at the corners of our lives is exposed. Identity prayer is communion that reveals God’s delight in us, God’s fresh grace for the day and God’s powerful presence within us. This is prayer that shapes not only our self-image but also our self-reality.

Identity prayer is summed up in the words of a fellow pastor who daily prayed, “Lord, put Your fingers deep into the clay of my life today. Shape me so that others see more of You in me today.”

Lloyd Ogilvie was the one who introduced me to Identity prayer. At a college chapel, Ogilvie said, “Allow me to share my life’s prayer with you: ‘Lord, make my life as beautiful as it was when You first thought about me!’” To be shaped through prayer into the original design God intended is a journey that leads to increasing and true effectiveness.

In 1996, nearly 40,000 pastors gathered in the Superdome in Atlanta for the clergy event “Fan Into Flame.” When veteran pastor Charles Swindoll stepped to the microphone, they were not prepared for his first sentence: “When God wants to use a person greatly, He crushes them deeply.”

Swindoll went on to highlight the call of Isaiah, with all of its pain, surrender and power (see Isa. 6). The prophet was before the Lord when the revelation of his own uncleanness came crushing down on him—and he was completely undone. As he stayed before the Lord, however, his sinful lips were not only cleansed, but they were also changed, empowered and commissioned into ministry. Pastors have the same opportunity as Isaiah to be humbled before the Lord to see a fresh revelation of their God, themselves and their call.

Jacob had the quintessential prayer encounter when he wrestled with God through the night (see Gen. 32:22-32). Holding on to God in the middle of the night is never fun—and often causes a limp—but it is the kind of praying that has life-shaping power. From that day forward, Jacob was known as Israel, which means “he struggles with God.”

Almost every pastor wants to be known as one of God’s best, a significant influence, a real prince or princess of God. But who wants to limp? We want to avoid the painful shaping of our inner selves, yet wrestling through the night is the way we fall into the greatness that God calls us to. An effective, growing prayer life is one that moves us past our defenses, beyond our fears and deeper than our self-deception. The journey of “Jacob” to “Israel,” from “deceiver” to “prevailer” can only be taken through Identity prayer.

This kind of prayer happens primarily in times of aloneness and especially in times of pain. We first confess all known sin and ask for the root of such sins to be revealed, which puts us in a position for deeper shaping. Then we wait in the presence of God with an ear tuned to His voice. We come as we are—no pretense, agenda, façade or guardedness. Openness, transparency and vulnerability invite engagement and intimacy with the Father.

Eighteenth-century mystic and poet Archbishop François Fénelon described prayer this way:

Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell God your troubles, that God may comfort you; tell God your joys, that God may sober them; tell God your longings, that God may purify them; tell God your dislikes, that God may help you conquer them; talk to God of your temptations, that God may shield you from them; show God the wounds of your heart, that God may heal them. If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. Talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration say just what you think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.1

Many pastors have found that establishing an altar place is helpful. This is a sacred space conducive to helping you focus and listen, an environment that is dedicated to interacting with God over matters of life and ministry. My first such place was a closet under the basement stairs, where I positioned a kneeling pad, a bench, a Bible and a small lamp. I didn’t go into that closet except to seek God. I expected God to meet me there. I can remember crying, laughing, singing, reading, confessing and listening at that altar. I envisioned the backside of those stairs leading heavenward to God’s throne. Perhaps they did.

Identity prayer is not a monologue about my sin or needs. It is, instead, an active dialogue, with times of listening for the thoughts of God. As we learn to hear the voice of the Spirit, we receive the communion that builds the interior resiliency that ministry demands. Henri Nouwen captured this necessity:

Why is it so important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It’s important because it’s the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you “my beloved daughter,” “my beloved son,” “my beloved child.”2

To pray is to let God’s voice speak to the center of who you are—to your guts—and let it resound in your whole being.

How many pastors have their effectiveness undermined by giving too much weight to the words of their critics? Or by dwelling on the injustices of the ministry? How often does the burden of unreciprocated love hobble the spirit of the pastor? David knew this kind of heartache, and his response should become our testimony: “In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer” (Ps. 109:4). His resiliency was nurtured through his dialogue with God. His identity was well-formed through a life of prayer.


Integrating Prayer

For prayer to shape a pastor’s life and ministry, it must be woven into daily life. Prayer is not something the effective pastor does in order to prepare for the day—it is the means by which he or she travels through the day. Integrating prayer is a running conversation with God that begins on waking and ends on the pillow at night. It is conformity to Paul’s admonition, “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything” (Phil. 4:6).

Prayer must be integrated into the moments of ministry and become the natural reflex to whatever the day hands us. The conversation with the staff member who shares a concern elicits a moment of prayer. Caller ID showing a board member on the line is met with prayer. The offering report, the nursery problem, the hospital visit, the lunch with a new attendee, the new volunteer for Sunday School, the website layout . . . are all tackled with an under-the-breath conversation with the Father.

Archbishop Fénelon understood integrated prayer when he wrote, “Accustom yourself gradually to carry prayer into all your daily occupation—speak, act, work in peace, as if you were in prayer, as indeed you ought to be.”3 He knew that this attitude of prayer has transforming power. Integrating prayer into the minutia of life brings a sense of significance, satisfaction and holiness to the most humdrum tasks of ministry.

Many pastors enter ministry with unrealistic expectations of world-changing influence and weeks filled with study, prayer and teaching. Upon arrival at their first post, however, they can relate to Brother Lawrence, the sixteenth-century monk who found that peeling potatoes and washing dirty dishes were the unsavory realities of his weekly ministry chores. Brother Lawrence complained for an entire decade before beginning to “practice the presence of God.” Four centuries later, we are still buying his book.4 Why? As Brother Lawrence himself said, “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.” Effectiveness is not measured by how fast a pastor can escape ministry tasks that seem below his expensive seminary training, but by how thoroughly he can integrate prayer into the unpleasant or mundane chores of ministry.

Integrating prayer ties the loose ends of ministry together—it gives some order to the chaos of ministry. It brings together seemingly unrelated events and identifies common threads so that spiritual understanding results. We lay the variety of puzzle pieces before God and say, “Lord, You make sense of it all.”

Integrating prayer operates like a gyroscope, which is a device for maintaining orientation: It continuously revolves around every circumstance to keep the pastor centered and stabilized. When journeying in prayer, the pastor can keep his or her bearings while navigating the maze of ministry.


Intervening Prayer

The privilege of prayer is a delegated authority for the disciples of Jesus to interrupt the reign of evil and extend the kingdom of God. The ability of the pastor to change the spiritual atmosphere of a congregation or a community through prayer must never be underestimated.

When the spiritual leaders of the new Church in Jerusalem were confronted with the choice of administration or intercession, their priority was clear: “We will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). That intersection between the spirit of prayer and the truth of the Word is the sweet spot from which a pastor can truly preach. The power of a sermon arises from careful attention to both intervening prayer and accurate preparation of the Word.

The old cartoon showing a pastor on his knees in prayer and a secretary opening his door to say, “Good, I am glad you’re not busy,” is all too common. Either the church people have shaped their priorities around practical service instead of the spiritual power of intercession, or the pastor is too busy serving the church to spend time intervening in prayer. But the apostle James reminds us that “the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective” (Jas. 5:16). A prayer of faith impacts the spiritual realm in heaven and the reality on Earth, and results in increased effectiveness.

Pastors sometimes pray as thermometers instead of thermostats. Like thermometers, their prayers reflect the reality of life in their congregation—they praise God for what is or they complain to God about what is not. Thermostats, on the other hand, monitor the temperature and intervene. They draw on the power of the furnace to heat the room. They change the atmosphere.

One National Day of Prayer, I felt directed by the Holy Spirit to do something totally uncharacteristic of my usual pattern. A busy intersection near our urban church had been the site of four robbery-homicides over the previous year, and the Lord prompted me to spend the day prayer-walking that corner, carrying a sign that read “National Day of Prayer: Praying for Peace in our Neighborhood.”

I got everything from honks of support to mock drive-by shootings, but I sensed the Spirit changing the atmosphere through my prayers and the prayers of others. A year later, three new businesses had opened, the closed business had reopened and there had not been even one robbery or murder. God lovingly chided me about my small faith that prayer could change the atmosphere of a street corner.

Intervening prayers that are effective emanate from a friendship with God, not from the ego of an aspiring pastor—it is out of Identity and Integrating prayers that effective Intervening prayers arise. As a son or daughter of God learns his or her identity and walks through his or her days in conversation with God, he or she is prepared to intervene with accuracy and boldness. He or she begins to pray in the name of Jesus instead of in the name of his or her own small-minded desires.

Abraham is a biblical model on this point. Abram had his identity transformed by God to Abraham, and had traveled without knowing where he was headed, yet walked with God as he went. Abraham and God were friends. It was out of this relationship that Abraham prayed his powerful prayers of intervention, actually bargaining with God for Sodom (see Gen. 18:16-32). Abraham stood in the gap for Sodom, negotiating a deal with God to spare the city if even 10 righteous people could be found there.

Effective pastors journey into friendship with God and learn to exercise the power of prayer to intervene on behalf of their people. Their prayers push back principalities and powers, releasing spiritual gifts and blessings. Such a prayer life demonstrates beyond debate that the pastor’s dependency rests on God instead of self.

Effective pastors call their community of faith to join them in wielding such a dynamic force, and their invitation rings with integrity because people know the pastor is praying in the closet before calling for them to prayer in the sanctuary. As the pastor models this priority on prayer and calls the congregation to follow, results attributable only to God begin to occur in ministry.

* * *

I remember asking God to heal Pastor Harold of his polio injury so that he could lift both of his hands to heaven in prayer. It never happened. But Harold had already taught me that my responsibility was not to figure God out, but simply to pray in faith, allowing God to shape my identity, walking with God throughout the highs and lows of my days and intervening on behalf of His people.

Harold was immersed in a life of prayer and it produced effective results: His churches never grew beyond 100 people—but of those 100, more than a dozen went into full-time ministry, influencing thousands for Christ.



Notes

    2. James Mudge, “Fénelon the Mystic,” 1906.

    3. Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 2005).

===>Click headline to access information on this book . . .


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Inner~View: How to Strengthen Your Inner Core and Ministry Impact

Praying Pastor interviewed Larry Walkemeyer, co-author of 15 Characteristics of Effective Pastors


Praying Pastor ~ At first, I was merely glad to see that prayer was included among the 15 characteristics because prayer is so often ignored in books for or about pastoring - However, realizing that prayer was one of the 15 that surfaced in an original list of 64 was even more impressive. Were you surprised that prayer was in the top 15?

I was pleased but not overly surprised for three reasons. First, I knew our panel were people of prayer. Second, I know most pastors give mental assent to the priority of prayer even if their practice of prayer does not evidence that. Third, I believed that God was using our research to help identify essentials of effective pastoral ministry. I was confident that prayer would certainly be a priority on His heart.

Praying Pastor ~ Larry, what do you mean by "The distance between prayer as a method and prayer as a lifestyle is deceptive"?

Prayer has often, even if inadvertently, been promoted on the basis of what it can bring to “my life” and to “my ministry”. Prayer easily devolves into another task on a “to do” list. However, if prayer is viewed primarily as a means to accomplish a personal desire, or as an activity to be accomplished, it falls far short of God’s intended purpose. Prayer is a relational conversation that is meant to be woven into the fabric of everyday living. While there are certainly different forms of prayer - some involving the solidarity of traditional structure or others interceding for certain results – the aim of prayer is to be a manner in which one journeys through the day. The deception is when a pastor views a “personal prayer time” in the morning as the fulfillment of God’s glorious gift of prayer, rather than engaging in a robust, vibrant conversation with God.

Praying Pastor ~ You identify 5 patterns of a typical pastor's prayer life. What are they and why are they ultimately powerless?
1 Be-good Prayers ...
2 Bargaining Prayers ...
3 Bellyache Prayer ...
4 Bless-me Prayers ...
5 Battle-on Prayers ...

These are the prayers that I as a pastor too quickly slip into. Most of them are a valid form of prayer if used at appropriate times in healthy proportions. But too often they form the bulk of a pastor’s prayer life, or they define the essential heart of a pastor’s prayer life.

“Be-good Prayer” are those prayers that focus on external behaviors instead of on the issues of the heart. They lack the honesty of inviting the Spirit to search the deep places of the heart to reveal and heal the root issues that give rise to wrong actions.

“Bargaining Prayers” happen when we view prayer as a “religious work” that is depositing a currency in God’s bank that then somehow belongs to us. Prayer is used as a leverage to get an advantage on God. More “prayer time” equals more “right” to demand more “results”. This approach to prayer diminishes God to an investment principle instead of the transcendent person He is.

“Bellyache Prayers” are cathartic and are commendable when used as David did in his psalms of lament. Pastors, however, often use their prayer as a pessimistic time of complaining about the problems of the church. Their prayers never lift their eyes to the God who is able to do far above all they can ask or imagine. Their prayers explore their feelings but don’t declare their faith.

“Bless-me Prayer” are prayers that arise more from “The Secret” than from the scriptures. They are prayers that are used much like good luck charms. Often they are formulaic prayers that have been learned from a book or that some ‘successful’ preacher has taught will bring God’s blessing. Prayer is not the “abracadabra” we use to manipulate God. To authentically stretch out your heart before God to request his blessing and His hand upon your life is powerful; to recite your magic prayer of blessing is not.

“Battle-On Prayers” are far more prevalent in certain branches of the church. These prayers are usually grouped under the title of “spiritual warfare”. While earnest and extended prayer against demonic principalities is often essential, if a pastor is not careful the words and tone of these prayers can become thick with emotion and thin on substance. Rather than an assault on principalities and powers, it becomes a venting for the pastors frustrations or simply another formulaic, albeit highly spiritualized, approach to prayer.

Praying Pastor ~ How do "effective pastors ... move beyond prayer as a means"?

Because prayer at its core is relational, the answer to this question is a journey, not a five step solution. There are both broad and very personal dimensions to this journey.

A few angles of approach could be suggested. Prayer moves beyond being a means, when it becomes dialogical. I think of Jesus’ prayer at Lazarus tomb…"Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." (John 11:41, 42) Jesus seems to look up to heaven and say, “Father we have already been conversing about this. You know what I want. For their sake I am going to ask aloud.” Then out of that relational dialogue he gives the command- “Lazarus, come out!”

Most pastors want to skip to the command without dealing with the interplay and attention that a relationship involves.

To envision this life of prayer, we must get a glimpse of it through what others have practiced. Practically we need to learn from the great teachers on the subject…Brother Lawrence, Thomas a Kempis, Richard Foster, Philip Yancy, Jack Hayford.

This move to lifestyle prayer will not be easy for it is resisted by our own sin nature, our consuming schedules, our society of external focus, our habits of neglect, our self-reliance, our self-absorption and Satan himself. Consequently, developing trigger points can prove beneficial. A trigger point is something that when you hear it or touch it serves as alarm clock to awaken the soul to prayer. For me some of those have been the hour beep on my wristwatch, my steering wheel, my computer keyboard, the shower handle, my pen, even the toilet seat.


Praying Pastor ~ Explain the purpose of:
• Identity Prayer -
• Integrating Prayer -
• Intervening Prayer -

Identity Prayer is to lay bare the inner workings of the human heart. As that vulnerability to God and to self develops, prayer is the means to addressing the issues that are discovered there. This dimension of a prayer life examines motives and addresses fears, insecurities, weaknesses, hurts, offenses, unforgiveness, pride, desires, pleasures, and jealousies. It invites the life-shaping influence of the Spirit into those arenas of our lives. It aligns our self-image with God’s truth. It reminds me that I am his beloved, made not for daily devotions, but for a wild adventure of a “love saturated life” with God.

Integrating Prayer is the means to centralize the disjunctive nature of our lives. It weaves together the disparate activities of a day and ties them all back to Jesus. It is the way we stay in the Spirit whether in the grocery line, the freeway back up, the pulpit, or the bedroom. It brings every act to God’s throne and requests that it bring glory to Him, that it serves His purpose in us and through us.

Intervening Prayer is exercising the privilege and authority to impact the reality of my world by requesting God’s intervention in people and circumstances. It is coming in alignment with what the nature of Jesus would desire and then asking for the kingdom to manifest in that way among us. As Moses stood on his hill and impacted the battle below him through his prayers, so Pastors must stand with prayers extended to heaven to change the course of the battle in their corner of the world.

Praying Pastor ~ Why do you conclude with the story of a small church pastor who "was immersed in a life of prayer"?

Pastor Harold Taves was my pastor growing up and by most measures of success he would have been evaluated as below average. However, his life of prayer impacted the lives of many people who are in ministry today partly due to those prayers. The average pastor has a church of less than 100 people and feels less than effective. I wanted pastors to be encouraged that through prayer they can reach far beyond the “success” of numbers.

Praying Pastor ~ Larry, please write a prayer for pastors who want "a prayer life demonstrat(ing) beyond debate that the pastor's dependency rests on God instead of self."

Father, in the majesty and safety of your love I come openly into your presence. Your love is better than life and I delight myself in you. You are my joy, my breath, my song, my laughter. There is none like you. By the work of the cross I dance freely before your presence with only the robe of Christ righteousness covering my nakedness.

Father, I confess how quickly, how often, and how thoroughly I depend on my own personality, efforts, and resources to try to do your kingdom work. Lord I am often self-conscious, self-promoting, self-reliant, self-centered. Forgive me for Jesus sake.

Father, I choose afresh this day to focus my attention on Jesus who is my hero and my helper. I commit myself to carry on a conversation with you today. Remind me when I get busy and consumed and forget you. Assist me to exercise the authority you have given me as your partner in kingdom building. Holy Spirit breathe your life into me and through me for I can do nothing apart from you. I declare before angels and demons, that my dependency is upon the Living God.

Father, I thank you in advance for what you are going to do as I depend on you. I thank you that right now your ears are tuned to my voice and your eyes are focused on my needs. May my failures be covered in your mercy and my successes bring only glory to your name. For it is in Jesus name and for His sake that I pray. Amen.

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Pray in Stages . . .

4 Stages of a Pastor's Ministry

access this chartAs a pastor, God is leading you on a journey through stages of ministry. The following four stages can provide helpful understanding and guidance throughout your life as a pastor:

  • Foundation Stage: Responding to God's call and becoming oriented to pastoral ministry.
  • Maturing Stage: Developing the pastoral ministry skills to accomplish God's work.
  • Multiplying Stage: Executing effective ministry and reproducing yourself through others.
  • Legacy Stage: Leaving a spiritual legacy by finishing well and investing in others.

Read the article and download a chart with approximate age range, calling issues, source of help, educational challenges, major concerns, personal issues, & dangers for each stage.


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