The importance of prayer in church revitalization, Part 2
Editor’s note: This post is an excerpt from the book, “Replanting Rural Churches” by Matt Henslee and Kyle Bueermann, available from Acoma Press.
In a previous post, we covered the first two verses of Jesus’ model prayer in Luke 11:2-4. Prayer is an absolute essential in church replanting and revitalization. You won’t survive in ministry very long unless you are a man of prayer. In this post, we’ll cover verses 3 and 4 of Jesus’ model prayer.
Give us each day our daily bread, v. 3.
Can I let you in on a little secret about rural church revitalization? You are most likely not going to be rich. God promises He will meet the needs of His people, but that doesn’t mean He meets them according to our timelines. But make no mistake, God will provide. Praying that God will give us our daily bread will keep us relying on Him in the times when there is plenty to go around and in times when we are struggling to keep the lights on. Pray that you will come to trust God for His provision in your life, and that the people in your church will come to trust God’s provision for your life as well.
Forgive us our sins, v. 4a.
Can I let you in on another secret? You are a sinner. The people you pastor are sinners. We stand united with the people we serve in the simple fact that we are sinners in need of a great Savior. Why is this realization so important? Because, unless you as a pastor come to grips with the depth of your own sinfulness, you will be increasingly frustrated with your own (and your peoples’) lack of progress.
A key part of praying every day is to ask the Lord to reveal your own sinful thoughts. King David was acutely aware of his own sinfulness. In perhaps the most vivid example of personal repentance in the Bible, David prayed in Psalm 51, “Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion.” David understood his own sinfulness, but he also understood the depth of God’s grace and mercy. That is what drove him to pray this beautiful prayer of repentance. It should drive us to our knees in prayer, repenting of sin, and praising God for his unending patience and forgiveness toward us.
For we also forgive everyone in debt to us, v. 4b.
I just reminded you that you are, in fact, a sinner. That’s important to remember, because the people you serve as pastor also are sinners. There will be times they act like sinners. Unless you first have a grasp on the forgiveness God has shown you, you will have a difficult time passing that forgiveness to others.
Again, this prayer is absolutely essential. You must constantly be in prayer for your people — particularly your critics — praying that God will do what He and He alone can do: Change their hearts. Just as you must be quick to repent of sins in your own life, pray that the people you shepherd would be quick to do the same.
Do not bring us into temptation, v. 4c.
Remember, pastor, you are a sinner. This means you will be prone to temptation. Brothers, we cannot stress this point enough: You are not infallible. You are prone to mistakes. As the great musician Rich Mullins sang, “We are not as strong as we think we are.” The moment you begin thinking you are beyond moral failure as a pastor, you might actually be at your weakest.
Paul exhorted Timothy, “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace” (2 Tim. 2:22). The traps of ministry are abundant, and none of us is immune to them. Be quick to repent of sins, asking forgiveness from God and those you may have wronged. Meet regularly with fellow pastors with whom you can pray and hold one another accountable as men of God.
Keep in mind that Paul called Timothy to set an example for the believers in his speech, conduct, faith, love, and purity. Pastor, pray that God will help you remain faithful to Him in the middle of life’s temptations.
Over these two posts, we’ve focused on the priority prayer must have in the life of a replant pastor. Do not neglect this. Pray for your people, your family, and your ministry with fervor.