Seven prayers of a lazy pastor

I know a lot about lazy preachers, basically being one myself. Every “prayer of a lazy preacher” below I have probably prayed in one way or another, to one degree or the other.

It’s easy to point at do-nothing pastors as being the anomaly and call for them to leave the ministry and stop being a blight on the name of the Lord. But in truth, many of us who work hard and long in serving Him are basically lazy and have to fight the urge to vegetate all the time. Furthermore, we should not be surprised if some of the real over-achievers found in the Lord’s work fight the same battles and are always working to compensate for those Beetle-Baileyish desires to rest and then rest some more.

Consider these prayers of a lazy preacher....

1) “Lord, give me a great text for tomorrow’s sermon, one no one else has ever noticed before and a clever interpretation of it, one no one else would have ever seen.  No rush. Just in the next hour since we leave for the ball game at six. Amen.”

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Ten things to pray for your pastor–and one big thing to do

“Pray for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). 

You and I would do well to pray for our pastors.

So much depends on our spiritual leaders functioning well, staying close to the Lord, thinking clearly, and maintaining good health.

Here are ten requests we should be asking of the Father for our pastors….

One.  A strong sense of God’s calling on the pastor’s life.

“It is the Lord Christ whom ye serve.”  (Colossians 3:24)

The pastor is not his own, nor is he “ours.”  He has been bought with a price.  So, we pray that He may always have a clear sense of where his allegiance begins and ends.  This will produce a far greater intensity in his faith and dynamic to his work ethic than anything the deacons or finance committee can impose.

Two.   An increasingly deeper love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

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Truths which Satan uses to stop people from praying

The forces of hell will do anything to keep us from praying.

Satan tells lies to keep us from praying.  He uses pleasures and misinformation and our laziness to keep us from praying.  He uses false teachers and busy schedules and great television to keep us from praying.

He also has been known to use…

The truth.

As odd as it seems, the dark prince does not hesitate to speak the truth if it will make us think we shouldn’t pray.

Here are eight true statements Satan uses to put a stop to the most powerful force in the world, the prayers of God’s people…

1–God already knows what you need. No point in asking.

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Moderately important Christianity

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.  –C. S. Lewis

How important is the Christian faith? Listen to the Lord Jesus in just two of hundreds of similar statements from Him:

–“I tell you, no. But unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3,5)

–“Unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).

The faith of the Lord Jesus Christ is a life or death proposition.

Of the 100,000 excellent things C. S. Lewis said in his writings, and of the hundreds of memorable quotations we pass along from this brilliant British brother, perhaps nothing is of more lasting significance or greater benefit than the way he sharpened the line between faith and unbelief, between weak allegiance to Jesus and the real thing.

“(People say) ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Mr. Lewis would be amazed and more than a little disgusted by the lukewarmness of modern Christianity.

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They have asked you to pray at a convention in your city

This is my personal opinion.  Feel free to differ.  

This happens to almost every pastor:  Some civic (as in ‘nonreligious‘) outfit calls and asks you to lead a prayer at their gathering.  Sometimes it’s the city council or state senate, sometimes it’s a convention or business gathering.  Invariably, you are faced with the decision on what to say and what you should not say.  Here is my experience…

I was in my fourth year pastoring the First Baptist Church of Kenner, across the street from the New Orleans International Airport.  I received a phone call one day informing me that when the American Dental Association held its annual meeting in our city a few months hence, they wanted me to offer the invocation.  I was surprised and honored.

The caller said I would have three minutes for the prayer. She added, “And Pastor, please make it interdenominational.”  In my journal I wrote: “Had she said to omit the name of Jesus, I would have declined the honor for the sake of principle. As it was, I felt I could do something that would satisfy everyone.”

My secretary Peggy kept referring to it as  an “innovation,” instead of ‘invocation.”

The day came.  It was a huge hotel in downtown New Orleans.  Perhaps 700 to 1,000 people in the room.

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The retired pastor moves away and begins searching for a church

Question from a retired pastor–

I recently retired from full-time ministry, and my wife and I find ourselves in the position of having to find a new church for the first time in 43 years.  It’s not as easy as I thought it was going to be.  Part of the problem may be our location.  After spending the last 27 years of our ministry in a metro area of California, we retired to a small town in a nearby state.  We’re close enough that we can easily visit our children and grandchildren, who still live in California.  Problem: In our little town, there’s only one church of our denomination.  We attended twice, and then because of Covid watched at least two dozen services online.  Expository preaching is at the top of my list of what I’m looking for in a church, so we would not be happy going to this particular church.  Then, we considered the other churches in town:  one Methodist church, two Presbyterian churches, two Lutheran churches, two non-denominational churches, and one Catholic church.  We’ve looked into each of them and so far, we don’t seem to have found where we belong.  Some neighbors of our denomination drive nearly 50 miles to a larger city for church.  With a population of 100,000 there are a couple of fine churches of our denomination.  We may end up doing that too, but we’d prefer to belong to a church in our little town if possible.

What do we do? 

I don’t like being in a position of having to be “critical” of churches, yet now that we’re looking for the church that will be our home, it’s hard not to look at them with a somewhat critical eye.  So perhaps another way of framing my question would be, what should one look for in a church?  What things are important?  What things are not important?

An unsolicited note came this week.  The retired pastor and I do not know each other and have never met.  He asked if I had written anything on this subject.  I said I have not but invited him to give a fuller description of his situation.  The above is his response.  Below is mine.

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Waiting on the Lord may be the hardest thing we are asked to do

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength….  (Isaiah 40:31)

I waited on the Lord and He inclined to me and heard my cry…. (Psalm 40:1)

So, wait on the Lord.  Be strong. Let your heart take courage.  Yes, wait on the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

Are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?  (Mark 14:37).

It takes time.

God has all the time in the universe.

Throw away your watch and your calendar, follower of Jesus.  You’re on heavenly time now and nothing happens on your schedule.

I suspect most of us are like the fellow who prayed, “Lord, give me patience–and give it to me right now!”

You’ve been praying for a loved one. And you don’t see an answer.  You keep praying.  For years, you pray and wait and hope.  Then the one you were praying for is in a traffic accident and killed.  Clearly, God never answered your prayer.  You are devastated. So disappointed.  Your faith in God wavers.  You’re so unsure any more.  What is the point in praying and in trusting?

And then one day, years later, something happens.

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The heart-cry of the embattled pastor

“You shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things, for this is not my doing” (Numbers 16:28).

“Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and I have done all these things at Your word” (I Kings 18:36).

What Moses and Elijah prayed, I pray.

It is entirely in order for the Lord’s messenger to pray that the people to whom he was sent will recognize that God is God and fully in charge, and that he himself is the Lord’s servant, on mission from Him.

During what was possibly the worst time of my life when a little group of self-righteous members clamored for my resignation and criticized every thing I did, that was my prayer. I was going through the fire, being tried as I rarely had.

The prayer felt like the dying gasp of the weakest child in God’s family.  “Lord, let these people know there is a God in this place.  And that I’m your servant, just doing your will.” 

Did God hear the prayer?  Did He answer?

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Two huge things we will learn in Heaven

“So, you were the one praying for me!

Tara Edelschick was brought up the daughter of a secular Jew and a lapsed Lutheran.  She learned to be fairly self-sufficient, went to a great college and married a super guy.  “Weaker souls might need a god,” she thought at the time, “but I needed no such crutch.”

That belief was obliterated when my husband of five years, Scott, died from complications during a routine surgery. Ten days later, I delivered our first child, Sarah, stillborn.

Oh, my.  Talk about a double whammy.  Life suddenly took a tragic turn, blindsiding the unsuspecting young woman.

Many would never have recovered from such a blow.

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Three cautions before speaking on prayer

They invite you to bring a talk, a lesson, or a sermon on prayer. Your first thought, if you are normal, is, “Who me? What little I know about prayer you could put in a thimble.”

We all believe in prayer. We try to do it.  We do not look upon ourselves as role models.

Truly godly men and women who are known as prayer warriors will tell you they feel they have just enrolled in kindergarten.

I doubt if our Heavenly Father is happy with any of His children claiming to have the inside track on how to approach Him, how to “get things from God,” “how to make prayer work for your benefit,” and how to get on His good side.

–Jesus Christ has done everything necessary for us to enter the Throne Room of Heaven. See Hebrews 4:16.

–Jesus Christ has opened the divider between man and God and we have an open invitation to “come on in.” See Hebrews 10:19-22.

If you and I are not entering God’s presence and lifting up our needs and petitions and interceding for those on our hearts, it’s not God’s fault. It’s not the fault of Jesus, who did everything necessary to make it possible for us to pray effectively.

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