A while ago, a 70-year-old single man took me out to lunch at a fast-food joint. Innocent enough. Yet while I was hungrily munching on my thick Arb’y roast beef sandwich, loaded with special sauce, my friend point-blank asked me how much time I spend in prayer.
The stabbing question caught me off guard. And before I knew it, excuses were running through my brain like wild coyotes. Does he realize how busy the ministry is? And think about this: how many church congregations pay an elder to pray for them?
I shamefully mumbled an answer in the direction of my friend’s intense gaze. “Presently, very little.”
I was no longer interested in my roast beef sandwich. In fact, I wanted to chuck it into the trash can. I felt jarred and off balance. I knew there are two activities a biblical elder ought to give his full strength to: study of the Word and prayer. And I knew that the ratio of my time spent researching and studying and discussing and debating and proclaiming the Scriptures in relation to intercessory prayer for brothers and sisters and unbelieving friends toward the exalting of Yahweh’s glory didn’t really equal out. Did I really think that my concentrated study, my biblical exposition, my organized and carefully prepared words would win the day of accomplishing the work of the Lord Almighty God?
And then my friend asked me why the corporate prayer meetings of our church family are smaller than other church family meetings—another good question and an irritating one.
As I left that day to attend to my regular ministry activities, I knew that I couldn’t forcible change other people’s hearts to get them calling upon Yahweh wholeheartedly with petitions and praise. But God had pierced my heart personally over His desire to hear me talk to Him (mind-blowing that God actually delights in hearing a speck converse with Him). What a fool I was not to.
So today at Berean Baptist Church, we have five scheduled slots each week when church family can come to the meeting house and pray. And I think I have finally come to the point that we can spend two hours in prayer at a time, when I am not thinking so much about everything else I need to do.
Preaching the Word is a farce if I am not a pastor who prays. I am thankful. God is building me in what a true believer does.Todd Wood is pastor of Berean Baptist Church (Idaho Falls, ID).
He received his B.A. in Missions, M.A. in Theology, and M.Div. from Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC).
But more than anything he hungers for the A.I.G. degree affixed to Apelles (Rom. 16:10). He also operates a blog called Heart Issues for LDS.