Dear Fellow Children of God,
While I was hunting last week I received a number of comments by e-mail or text about me praying through our church directory, and praying for our members. I have a confession to make. While I have prayed on past hunting trips for all those in the church directory, I forgot to bring my church directory this year. However, I did have my prayer list. I did pray through that list a number of times.
You see, our method of hunting is to sit hidden by some meadows and ponds and call the moose to us. Usually we sit by the pond for 2-4 hours each morning and each evening. Many times we see no moose at all during our time of sitting. That leaves a lot of time to wait and listen. That also leaves time to quietly pray and to read.
I confess I didn’t pray through the directory this year. But, I did pray for all those on my prayer list, and for those whose messages I received, and I prayed for some others as well. The last time I counted there were over 150 entries of personal concerns on my prayer list of people and families of St. John and their friends. When people ask me to pray for them I put them on this prayer list. I don’t pray through the list each day, but I do pray through it regularly.
Why would someone spend so much time praying for others? First of all, I believe that God hears and answers our prayers. I care about the people for whom I pray and believe that God is the best answer for any concerns and reasons we have to pray.
But, I’ve also been taught through Scripture and through my education that pastors have a responsibility for those they shepherd. That is an awesome responsibility. I’m not sure everyone realizes the depth of that responsibility, but it overwhelms me at times.
The writer to the Hebrews expresses this pastoral responsibility and has a request for God’s children because of this responsibility. In Hebrews13:17-18 God speaks through this writer saying, “17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.”
So, one of the reasons I pray for others is that God says here that pastors and leaders “must give an account.” In other words I hear God saying I have a responsibility to care for the spiritual welfare of others.
But, there is also a problem in this responsibility. My prayer list is divided into categories, like illness, or trouble, or church issues. I also have a category for my own personal concerns. You see, pastors are people and they struggle too trying to live as a child of God. I pray for my own wisdom, and faith, and righteousness, and love, and many other spiritual needs. The problem is this. If I have my own struggles, how can I realistically look after the spiritual welfare of so many others who have their own issues? I do know that in my own weakness I have made mistakes at times.
That is why the writer to the Hebrews asks God’s people to “Pray for us.” Pastors struggle too. So a pastor needs help to live a life that leads by example and He needs help to provide care for God’s people through prayer and the direction of Scripture.
Thankfully, pastors are not alone in caring for the lambs of God. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is the one who loved the sheep so much that He laid down His life for them. Pastors are called to shepherd Jesus’ sheep under His leadership and grace and forgiveness and love.
This devotional message doesn’t just go to members of St. John, but many others read this too. I personally covet your prayers so that I may have God’s help in my weakness to be faithful and effective in providing spiritual care and leadership to the people of God. I know I need it. If you attend another church, please pray for your pastor. God’s help is the best help we can get. I know other pastors would covet God’s help through your prayers too.
A Child of God, Seeking God’s help for an over-whelming responsibility,
P.S. I did see 7 or 8 moose this year, including 2 bulls. However, I could not be sure they were legal, so I did not shoot a moose. Here is a link, however, to scenery on the drive to moose camp, and scenery from the drive home. https://plus.google.com/photos/114993745799525883148/albums/5928732352889346913
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.