Like all dutiful pastors, I am sworn in my ordination and installation vows to keep a Daily Office and to pray for my people that God has called me to serve. And like all dutiful pastors, I’ve created ways to keep track of who they are and what their needs are in logs and lists, checking the names, checking them twice. It was hard work, I told myself, but it’s got to be done.
But that’s changed over time. At first I put it down to familiarity and practice. But if that were all it is, my intercessions would soon become rote and the effort to sustain them would have increased.
What has changed? I saw that as my time spent sitting under the authority of Holy Scripture increases, the ease of my prayer life also increases. If ease is the right word.
It was my study of 1 Peter 2.2 that put some shape here: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” The “pure spiritual milk” is the Word of God. To drink the milk of the Word is to “taste” again and again what He is like, for in hearing of the Lord’s words I experience the joy of personal fellowship with the Lord Himself.
I’ve discovered that as my relationship in Jesus Christ deepens through the Word, I find that I become more and more honest in my prayer. And the more honest I become, the easier it is to bring those whom I love into His presence with me.
The test has been Tuesday mornings. Each Tuesday morning I dedicate my Daily Office to a particular focus: revival and renewal for our congregation and borough. The times I have spent meditating on God’s Word in a way that reveals my soul, I have the souls of the congregation whom I love as pastor gather almost unbidden into my heart. I lift them up to the Lord in thanksgiving and in their need.
It does not stop there. Soon I am gathering all the boroughs around us where my people live. Other church families, other pastors all come and are brought forward in prayer.
The Holy Spirit ministers through the Word. He brings a deeper union with my Savior and my prayer brings great joy as each relationship is lovingly brought before Him. The burden of earlier days has faded away.