Regardless of the nature of one’s ministry, there are significant distractions that can keep prayer on the back burner. Ministry demands time, interaction with multiple people, constant preparation, meetings, planning, the expectations of countless people who feel like those expectations are the minister’s to meet, and so much more. One of the common denominators of those things is that they all have the potential of creating an unintentional neglect of one’s personal prayer life.
There are countless reasons this neglect can happen. It becomes almost natural to say to one’s self that tomorrow there will be more time. We pray in meetings, we pray at meals, we pray with those who look to us for guidance, we pray in worship services. The temptation is to for those in ministry to feel that with all that prayer, one’s personal prayer life can be pushed aside another day. The problem with that thinking is that one day can become two, or three, or it can make personal prayer time so sporadic that our intimacy with God can gradually diminish before we realize it.
Here are seven things that can happen when pastors don’t pray.
- Ministry can become more of a job than a call. When the tasks of one’s call become more drudgery than satisfying, it may be a consequence of neglecting one’s prayer life.
- People become interruptions instead of opportunities to care, love, and serve. It is difficult, if not impossible, to adequately minister to another when a pastor feels irritated by the very people he or she is called to serve. Again, neglect of prayer can create these feelings.
- Vision suffers. An inadequate prayer life can move pastors away from visionary leadership into a maintenance mode, which can lead to much frustration and dissatisfaction.
- Important meetings can become difficult to endure. Instead of dreaming about future ministry, the temptation becomes to get the meeting over with.
- Intimacy with God suffers. Pastors deal with spiritual matters daily. This can cause the false idea that a close relationship with God must exist. However, some self-examination may well reveal a loss of intimacy with him that creates self-doubt and disillusionment.
- The pastor’s family often pays the price. Doing ministry without prayer can bring a weariness that makes one ineffective as a spouse or a parent. Irritability can insidiously sneak into those relationships that are most vital. Spouses and children can even begin to question the authenticity of one’s walk with Christ. The impact can be greatest on those we least want to hurt.
- God’s blessing on one’s ministry can be jeopardized. One simply cannot adequately lead a church when there is distance in a pastor’s relationship with Christ. While we my get by for a time on natural ability, the neglect of prayer over time will adversely affect leadership effectiveness, the pursuit of the church’s mission, and can make the minister vulnerable to failures that can have devastating results.
It is the wise pastor who remembers that he or she is first a Christ-follower, called to an intimate, vital, and growing relationship with God. Prayer is an essential part of that relationship. God genuinely desires time with us, and we are at our best when that time with him so important to us that distractions are seen for what they are. So, let’s pray!