Yes, it’s true: I covet something you have. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I passionately, desperately, constantly covet something you have. I’m consumed with longing for it; I can’t quit thinking about it. Honestly, if I can’t get it from you, I don’t know what I’m going to do. You know what I want?
I covet your PRAYERS!
The longer I pursue all that God has called me to in Christ, the more acutely I feel an overwhelming sense of my complete weakness and inadequacy for the task. To “walk worthy” as His child, to be a godly husband, a diligent father, and a faithful pastor is not only difficult – it is humanly impossible. And so I covet your prayers on a constant basis. I desperately need God’s enabling grace moment-by-moment. Frankly, I know I speak for the other Elders and Pastor Steve in seeking your prayers
As I plead with you for your prayers, such a request could seem to be self-serving. But as I read the New Testament and see the great Apostle Paul so frequently pleading for the prayers of God’s people (as in Eph. 6:19,20; Col. 4:3,4; 2 Thess. 3:1,2; etc.), I’m both encouraged and instructed.
Paul understood that it was beyond his human ability to fulfill the responsibilities of faithfully preaching and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was constantly subject to all manner of dangers, temptations, weaknesses, and obstacles. His appeals for prayer were not self-centered, but instead he longed for God’s purposes and glory to be accomplished in his life, and for the Gospel to be powerfully advanced through him. Only divine enablement, provided largely through the prayers of God’s people, could bring this about.
At times, Paul was very personal and specific regarding his needs. Listen to what he says in 2 Cor. 1:8,9:
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead…”
I wouldn’t remotely suggest that I know anything about the kind of suffering Paul experienced. But I will say this: vocational pastoral ministry is profoundly difficult, painful, and consuming. In the spirit of “not wanting you to be unaware,” let me mention some of the challenges of such a calling.
Like any child of God, I’m under orders to “walk worthy” (Eph. 4:1) in every sphere of life. Along with this, I have the additional privilege and responsibility of being an “under-shepherd” in God’s flock. Thus, I must faithfully preach the Word of God (1 Cor. 4:1,2; 2 Tim. 4:1-5), and shepherd the people of God (John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-3). Such preaching and shepherding involves strenuous labor in prayer, study, preaching, teaching, training, meetings, counseling, evangelism, giving and receiving admonition, planning, phone calls, emails, visitation (in homes, hospitals, and workplaces), etc. Within all of this labor, I must “…pay close attention to myself and my teaching…” (1 Tim. 4:16), knowing that in this burdensome, but glorious work, I will give an account to God (2 Cor. 5:9,10; Heb. 13:17).
Moreover, I live in the same world you live in, and I’m made of the same stuff you are. I deal with the same hassles and difficulties of life (paying bills, taking cars to the mechanic, fixing broken faucets, etc.), and I face the same temptations (“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man…” 1 Cor. 10:13). And I have the same 168 hours each week that you do, and must exercise wisdom in how that time is used. Though woefully imperfect, I resonate with Paul’s testimony in 2 Cor. 11:28,29 – “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?”
So brothers and sisters, please pray for me, along with praying for the other Elders and Pastor Steve. Pray that God would give us grace to walk humbly before Him, and fulfill all that He has called us to as under-shepherds among you, His people. Pray that He would be glorified in bearing much fruit in and through our lives (Jn. 15:8), and that the Gospel would advance powerfully through us (2 Thess. 3:1,2). And rest assured that we are praying diligently for you, even as Paul exemplified in such prayers as Eph. 1:15-19; 3:14-21; Col. 1:9-12.
In closing, listen to what Paul goes on to say in 2 Cor. 1:10,11 concerning his longing and appreciation for the prayers of God’s people:
“…who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.”
For your joy and His glory,