Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Safety of Praying; The Danger of Prayerlessness

Monroe County

Last week I taught another Spiritual Formation class at Payne Theological Seminary. My desire is to co-labor with God to implant a greater praying, abiding life in pastors and Christian leaders.

My experience over the years, from student feedback, is that the majority of North American pastors do not have a significant praying life. By "significant" I mean: like Jesus had. It was customary and habitual for Jesus to exit to lonely places to met with God and pray. It should be the same for his followers. 

When someone acquires a praying life they encounter God in fresh, beautiful experiences. This is the allure and benefit of habitual, focused, attentive praying. When this is discovered one can no longer go without it. And, one becomes a safe person.

When a Christian leader has no time for this they are a danger to themselves and to others, as well as being inauthentic and irrelevant (to the plans and purposes of God, since they live as a disconnected branch).

The danger of prayerlessness is well-expressed by Ruth Haley Barton:

"Without the regular experience of being received and loved by God in solitude and silence, we are vulnerable to a kind of leadership that is driven by profound emptiness that we are seeking to fill through performance and achievement. This unconscious striving is very dangerous for us and for those around us; it will eventually burn us out (since there is no amount of achievement that will ultimately satisfy the emptiness of the human soul), and the people we work with will eventually notice that they are mere cogs in the wheel of our own ego-driven plans." (Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, p. 126)