Posted in Ministry

Why Ministers Don't Pray Well


Photo courtesy of iStockphoto®

The church I attended in college had a 24/7 prayer ministry. Hourly, four volunteers crammed into a small room with four cubicles and were available by phone to pray with anyone who called in.

I felt I should be a part of this. The only consistent time on a weekly basis for my one-hour slot was Thursday at 7:00 a.m. While this doesn’t sound terribly early now, it was to a college student.

Many times, I remember flying out of my chair when the phone in my cubicle would ring. While I was supposed to be praying though a list of needs, I would doze off and the sound of a phone four inches from your ear is quite startling. I could sleep during “prayer time” without causing much suspicion, but I could never effectively cover springing out of my chair to my “prayer partners” in the room.

At that life-stage, I was overwhelmed by a need for sleep. Now as a minister, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of matters to pray for on a consistent basis.

This feeling isn’t exclusive to ministers. No one can pray for everything that deserves attention. But a minister’s role has some unique pressures to pray comprehensively and well (my working definition of well: in the moment; not haphazardly; pleasing to God).

When I’ve become overwhelmed with prayer needs, I sometimes don’t pray at all. Or if I do, it lacks focus. In my frustration of feeling inadequate, a worse thing happens. Not only am I not interceding for others, but I miss my time in conversation with God altogether.

Recently I came up with a way to order my prayer life so I’d avoid being overwhelmed. My prayer life changes in seasons of my life, but this is serving my prayer life well now. I pray in buckets.

For each day of the week, I’ve drawn a bucket in my journal. In pencil, I write in each bucket some areas of intercession. I spread out the major areas of intercession into one of the seven buckets:

•             My wife and each of my children have a day.

•             Each of the ministry departments I help to oversee have a day. For each department, I pray for the staff in that department and unique items they may be dealing with.

•             Each day has a different pastor that’s important to me.

•             Ultimately, each day’s bucket has 4-6 topics (aforementioned groups, extended family members, those with illness, job loss, specific people I know who need Christ).

My bucket-praying assumes a few things:

1.            I’m confessing and expressing gratefulness to God as a part of every day’s prayer time.

2.            I’m not limited by buckets. I must remain obedient to whatever the Spirit brings to my mind or crisis that are time specific and not listed in a bucket.

3.            I’m engaging “whisper” prayer moments throughout the day when prompted.

If you’re overwhelmed in prayer, whether bucket-praying or not, I encourage you to find some solution to effective and consistent prayer.

Continue Reading

Before You Give Them the Chance to Say "I do"


Though I’ve never been a senior pastor, there have been seasons in my ministry when I was conducting several weddings each year. But that amount of officiating wasn’t enough for me to remember all that’s involved each time in officiating a wedding. Things like, how to prepare a couple for marriage and how to perform a God-honoring wedding ceremony.

While the minister’s task list isn’t as long as the wedding coordinator’s, as the minister, I was responsible for each of these areas:

•             Details of the ceremony;

•             Concise list of the couple’s must-dos;

•             And my non-negotiable counseling topics.

As in my church now, my previous church provided pre-marital counseling (a great resource, Countdown to Marriage). But even if a couple attended the classes, I still wanted to cover certain topics face-to-face with them.

After continually starting from scratch in my preparation for each pre-marital counseling meeting, I decided to develop a check list of things I wanted to discuss and accomplish in each one .

As a minister, you need a framework for your role in weddings. You need to determine conversation and decision points with each couple. You need to be protective of your time (and wedding ceremonies can be a time-killer).

Here’s my wedding checklist– it might provide a baseline as you develop your own.

Happy marrying.

Continue Reading

What Lice Taught Me About Evangelism

Last school year, my wife called to tell me she was picking up my second grader from school because she had lice.


Photo courtesy of iStockphoto®

My only previous knowledge of lice came from elementary school where anyone who had lice was considered “not cool,” and we assumed they never washed their hair. Well, my daughter washes her hair regularly, and I tend to think she’s pretty cool.

With new knowledge on lice from the school nurse, the delousing began.

It was a huge task. We vacuumed, sprayed, and washed everywhere lice might live and bagged things up—and that was just our household items. Then, we had to clean out the lice from the actual carrier (daughter) and work hard to make sure the other three kids and my wife didn’t get lice. (I was fairly safe. See picture on website for reason).

Here’s what I learned about lice that helped me think about sharing Christ:

  1. Lice don’t jump. You actually have to make contact. While the Spirit can, we can’t intuit Jesus to others from far away. We have to be close enough for contact. We have to do life with them and share Christ out of our common context. Like avoiding lice, we might be guilty of trying to steer away from those who are far from God in fear that we might catch their sinfulness (by the way, we’ve already caught sin, but we just have to accept the permanent antedate).
  2. Lice are effective at invading everything. We cleaned all of our surfaces. Multiple times. Bagged fifty stuffed animals. For being small, lice are hard to ignore. In appropriate ways, we should inundate people’s lives with our love for Christ. A passing glance will likely not do. We have to be present in all areas. People should have to work hard to ignore our presence and the Holy Spirit’s working.
  3. They don’t stop. They’re committed, those lice. It was multiple rounds of the delousing before they went away for good. A simple rebuff wasn’t going to deter them. What if we were as committed as lice? Only stopping our pursuit when the Holy Spirit convicted us?

Lice are highly contagious. I believe someone already took the clever title “Contagious Christianity,” but the author was right and we should be a part of the contagion.

Here’s to evangelism, lice-style.

Continue Reading