A Pastor's Failings, Pt. 3

It's time for another installment in this recurring feature here on the Desperate Pastor blog, confessing some of my failings as a pastor and leader in the church and (I hope) by doing so, encourage other pastors not to feel alone and not to make the same mistakes. Or not to make them again. Or not to make them as BIG as I did.

So here's number three: pastoral prayerlessness. For large swaths of my first twenty years or so in ministry, I was a virtually prayerless pastor. I wanted to pray. I knew I should pray. I forced myself at times to pray. But I could not have said I was a man of prayer. I could not have called myself a praying pastor.

Obviously, I prayed quite often--at mealtimes, and in public gatherings, and so on. But that's not what I'm talking about. I was for most of my first two decades of ministry a non-resident of the prayer closet, a stranger to secret prayer, a toe-dipper in the deep waters of private prayer. All that changed a year or two prior to my last pastoral experience, the church my wife and I helped to plant twelve years ago in Oxford, Ohio. And it changed, not through determination, but through desperation and discovery. I became more desperate for God than ever before, and discovered the rhythms that transformed my prayer life from "ought to" to "want to," from a discipline to a dance.

All along, I knew the truth of Andrew Murray's words:
The indispensable thing is not preaching, not pastoral visitation, not church work, but fellowship with God in prayer until we are clothed with power from on high! To be prayerless is to be powerless.
I just didn't practice them. And I honestly have no idea how I managed to pastor, preach, counsel, plan, think, serve, or function without utter, constant, desperate dependence on God in prayer. I definitely know I couldn't do it today, that's for sure.

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