May I add that camDown FREE and I believe your mother would agree.
Every occupation comes with hazards. That includes ministry. There are plenty of pits one could fall down doing ministry. Most of them are sneaky. They creep up on you before you even know they are there. Prayer is one such possible casualty of ministry. Pastors and people in ministry are asked to pray for a lot of things. I cannot even begin to tell you how many intestines I have been asked to pray for. I have even been asked to pray for guinea pigs and football games. I do not mind praying for any of these things. I do not mind praying for them because I hope and trust that my prayers will make a difference in someone’s life.
However, the problem is that everything I pray for does not work out the way that I had hoped. Sometimes, I pray for the person who is very sick, and they do not recover. That is hard to watch. I started noticing one of my habits over the years. I made my prayers vaguer as time went on. I think it was a defense against all the prayers that God did not answer as I wanted them to be answered. If I just prayed for them by name, I would not be as disappointed in God when things did not go well for them. So, I ended up praying for things like, “God, I pray for Tom.”
This same thing can happen to anyone, not just pastors. We can all get burnt out on prayer when things do not go as we had hoped. Eventually, I realized that we must be persistent in our prayers. Too often, we give up on our prayers before we have even gotten started. Too often, we give up on our prayers when we do not get what we had prayed for. Your answer might be a “no” or “later,” but do not walk out on your prayers so quickly.
That is what Jesus tried to teach his disciples about prayer in Luke 11. They asked how they should pray. So, being the good guy that he was, he gave them a template prayer to work with. Then, he told them a story about prayer. His story taught them the lesson to keep on praying even when it does not seem to be panning out. When he finished the story he said, ““Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open. Don’t bargain with God …”
Recently, I told my congregation a story about George Mueller, a 19th century Christian social reformer. Around 1844, he started praying for the conversion of five people to the Christian faith. No matter what was happening or how busy he was, Mueller prayed for these people every day. The first two or three people came to faith within years. However, after thirty-six years, two of them still had not come to faith in Christ. This man kept on praying for them! After fifty-two years of devoted prayer, the last of the people that he had prayed for made confessions of faith in Christ.
I do not know about you, but I would have given up on those holdouts a long time ago. However, George Mueller prayed with the kind of faith that Christ taught his disciples, and it changed these people’s lives! Do not sell yourself short by giving up on your prayers too soon. Certainly, do not sell God short either. Keep on praying for the things and the people who matter.
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