When I Refuse to Pray for Church People

There is a time when I refuse to pray for church people.

This may seem odd, especially since I am a pastor. And I am a pastor who genuinely enjoys praying for people, both inside and outside the church. I am no expert by any means and I appreciate how even the Bible recognizes that prayer is hard. This is Paul’s plea to the church in Rome,

“Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:30

Paul had seen better days. Life was hard and persecution was real. Yet notice how Paul asks for help. He asks the people God to join him in his struggle by sending money, selfies, good thoughts, casseroles, praying to God because they love him.

Tangible expressions of love are great. Who doesn’t love a timely delivered meal? But we have to drop this idea that prayer is some lower level of ministry, not really as effective as doing something.

Tragically, I think prayer has become a lost part of the pastorate in many ways.

One of my largest spiritual influences, Eugene Peterson, tweeted a similar thought a few weeks ago that has been careening off the walls of my heart ever since,

The vocation of pastor has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans.

Yet for all the importance of prayer in the pastorate, there is still a time when I refuse to pray for church people.

It’s at my kitchen table, coffee in hand, every morning before my wife and I leave for work.

Just before the hustle of the day begins, we both take time and pause. We read Scripture together and pray for one another. ONLY one another. Some days it is 30 minutes and others (like yesterday) it is 5 minutes. I cherish this time for one main reason: we pray for nothing but each other.

This has nothing to do with me being a pastor and everything to do with being a husband.

In marriage, praying together is like sex. When it’s happening, life is good. Each person knows their spouse generally cares for them. Extra effort is usually made and usually noticed and appreciated. However, when it’s not happening, little things can turn into big things in a hurry, causing to fights out of literally nothing.

How to Pray WITH Your Spouse FOR Your Spouse

1.) The WITH is important. The goal isn’t to just pray for your spouse, but to join in the struggles of each other through prayer because of the love you have for one another

2.) Ask, “How can I pray for you today?”

3.) Listen.

4.) Actually listen.

5.) Pray about the stuff you heard.

Even if you’re not super comfortable at first, the effort is not just helpful; it’s imperative.

How well do you really love your spouse if you are unwilling to pray for/with them?

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