[Associate Pastor Newsletter Article for Grace Lutheran Church, September 2021]
Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. – Ephesians 6:18
As a pastor, I have spent much of my ministry helping others to be equipped to share their gifts, as I should (Ephesians 4:11-13). Seeing someone with some sort of grace bestowed on them by God, a pastor’s job becomes one of strengthening the awareness of that gift, and helping that brother or sister in Christ to make full use of all that God has given for the glory of God, and love of neighbor. Lately, for me anyways, that work has been focused on the creation of a Sunday School team, a continuation of the awesomeness of our Youth Ministry team, and the hopes of seeing other teams be formed within our congregation for the sake of the Gospel and the work we have been given to do.
Over the past two months, part of what I have heard from many is this word “exhausted.” So many of us are there. We have had 18 months of “two weeks to slow the spread.” Eighteen months of lockdowns, masks, vaccines, hospitalizations, illness, fear, anger, frustration, and sleeplessness. Being asked to add one more thing to a year in which everything has become harder and more tedious, has been intrusive for many, and for some of us, downright callous. Our teachers are tired. Our nurses are tired. Our leadership is tired. Our pastors are tired. Our congregation is just plain tired.
I cannot begin to imagine the difficulty that so many of you have faced. Trying to juggle life is hard enough, then throw in a pandemic, homeschooling, fears of death, and questions of our worth overshadowed by the pragmatic needs of the many, one can only think how things would be without our faith, right? What would life look like for you if God was silent, hidden, ignored, or worse – nonexistent?
However, in the midst of all this chaos and worry, I have a job for you. It is not a hard job, but it does take some tenacity – PRAY! Don’t take up another responsibility, just pray. Rest in God by turning your heart to him even for a moment. I need two folks willing to pray each day. Pray for our church. Pray for our students that they may grow in faith towards God and love towards one another. Pray for our ministries. Pray about what God is saying to you and us over these next nine months. Pray for revival in God’s church, for a harvest in the fields prepared for us by Christ and His blood shade for the forgiveness of all sin. Pray for your pastors and council. Pray for the people who have said, “Yes”, to continue or begin ministry again after the shutdown. Pray that we become a beacon of light for our city. Pray for the extension of our life together outside these walls that we may tell of all the good things God has done for us. Pray. Do it whenever you can. That is our perseverance in action as we continue to live and serve a God who promises to hear us.
In a post on Facebook just a few days ago, someone shared a quote from another theologian on prayer – "Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed.” Nothing could be truer. When we pray we are saying of ourselves that we are not in control, and that He is. When we pray we realize our dependence and reliance. When we pray, our hearts get drawn ever more closely to the Lord whom we love, knowing He hears us, but also knowing that our prayer is not as much about getting what we want, but about how it transforms our hearts and our minds to be turned to Him in all things. May it be so for you and for me.