Friday, March 13, 2009

The Power of a Praying Pastor

Pray! is now available in a digital edition!

The Power of a Praying Pastor

Sandy Mayle

At First Alliance Church in Erie, Pennsylvania, prayer is our top priority. The first of our eight core values as a church is “Prayer is the first work.” When four of us traveled to our first-ever Church Prayer Leaders Network prayer conference, however, we discovered that one of our most powerful assets had been with us for years!

We had already implemented pastor’s prayer partners, prayerwalks, intercession during worship services, and the availability of elders for post-worship prayer time. In addition, our senior pastor, Rick Crocker, leads an early-morning prayer gathering three times a week, and our children’s prayer ministry is very active.

We maintain an efficient prayer chain and an inviting prayer room, and we sponsor an annual weekend prayer seminar and a semi-annual day of prayer, which combines silence and meditation with corporate prayer and sharing. The church had 360 people involved in a 24/7 prayer initiative last May and has made plans for another one.

All of these programs helped us to make prayer our first work—but it wasn’t until we listened to keynote speakers and workshop leaders at the Empowered conference last June that we discovered why they have been successful. We were amazed to discover that it was not the resources we had purchased, or programs we had implemented, or concepts we had taught. It was that we had a praying senior pastor.

“We take it for granted,” admits prayer team leader Karen Brumagin, “but I’m thrilled to have Pastor Rick as a mentor and co-laborer with us on the prayer team. It’s a joy to have a committee meeting, knowing you’ll have support from the top down.”

That kind of support from the pastor hasn’t always been there, however. Five years ago, Rick says he found himself wandering in a spiritual desert, lacking power and joy. He finally took a month-long sabbatical for a spiritual retreat. The days passed in continual, discouraging dryness until the Lord delivered a clear and unforgettable rebuke: “This retreat isn’t about you. It’s about Me. You have been in ministry for 11 years, and you haven’t given Me the time of day.” Rick says it was a turning point in his ministry.

“That time away was crucial,” Rick remembers. “God showed me that my dryness was due to my prayerlessness. As I realized this and endeavored to correct it, I began to experience the joy and peace of walking intimately with God.

“Now prayer is my vital link to God—personally, as a child of God, and also as a pastor. I realize that prayer is vital to individual believers and to the congregation as well, and it should be the foundation stone upon which we build all other ministries.”

The Priority of Personal Involvement

It was after that retreat that Pastor Rick initiated the prayer room and early-morning prayer gatherings ===>Click headline to complete the article . . .

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