All of our failures are prayer failures and all of our successes are prayer successes.


                Everyone knows that prayer is essential for success in the ministry.  Everyone knows we need to pray more than we do.  Every book written on doing well as a pastor includes a chapter on prayer.  So why don’t we pray more? 

                Some pastors don’t pray as they should because of their busy schedule.  In small churches the pastor is often called upon to do so many jobs.  He may be responsible for almost everything that gets done in some congregations.  It is even more difficult if the pastor works a secular job in addition to leading the church.  There is only so much time available to get all of the work done.  But if prayer time suffers because of time restraints then you need to take another look at your schedule.  Look at it this way.  If you suffered from a deadly disease that could only be cured by spending time in exercise each day, you would make the time to work out.  And your people would tell you to cut something out if you felt you were too busy. 

                Now it may be true that your people may not see the need for prayer time as clearly as they would the need for exercise in the above illustration, but with a little teaching on your part they can come to see the value of your prayer life.  But to be honest, they main person that has to be convinced is YOU.  You are the one whose commitment or lack thereof is going to make a visible difference in your church.  It’s an old cliché but it’s still true--if you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy.

                Another reason some pastors don’t pray as they should is because of laziness.  Prayer is hard work and some pastors don’t want to put out the effort required.  You know the type.  They sit up watching the late movie, sleep in, get up and roam around the house, go to the coffee shop and run a few errands, after lunch they spend a little time in the office then head for home having put in “a full day.”  Many of these men have good intentions, but they never get off the ground because of their sluggishness.

                Salesmen run into the same problem.  A good salesman will tell you that it is hard work.  My dad was a retired life insurance salesman and I can remember nights that he came in late because he was out making calls.  He had gone to the office at regular opening time and then worked into the night to make a living for his family.  And guess what?  It was not unusual for dad to lead the district in sales.  He did not have a secret for success--he worked!

                Pastor, if you are going to be the prayer warrior God wants you to be you are going to have to work at it.  It won’t just fall into your lap.  You will never magically have enough time.  You will have to make it happen.  If you were engaged to a girl you would make time to spend with her.  You would talk to her on the phone, by email, text, web chat, and any other way you could.  God is much more important than a date.  Don’t be lazy--do the work of communicating with Him through prayer.

                There are other reasons pastors don’t pray.  Whatever your hindrance is, work on it.  Don’t let Satan rob you and your church of the blessings that come through the mighty channel of prayer.

                I have seen God do so many things because His people prayed.  The first small church I was privileged to pastor was in a farm community.  Agriculture was the lifeblood of many of our members.  One hot summer Wednesday afternoon I received a call from one of my people.  They had just received new chicks in their large chicken houses.  The heat was so great that they were dying.  They were working hard to keep them cool, but the blazing heat made it a difficult job.  I went to my study and got on my knees.  I prayed for God to cool things off.  Even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky I asked Him to send rain or at least some clouds to help out.  I had no sooner finished my prayer than I heard a noise in the distance--thunder!  I went outside and the formerly clear sky was billowing dark clouds.  A storm was blowing in and from an odd direction in those parts--from the east.  Rain almost always came from the west there, but not that day.  As the rain began to pour anyone driving by would have seen an odd sight: the pastor was standing out in the downpour laughing and praising God.  Needless to say, things cooled off and the chickens were okay.

                Some would say that is a petty example.  They would argue that with world hunger, the threat of nuclear war, great epidemics, massive poverty, and other great issues of our day that it is silly to think that God answered a prayer and sent rain to help a few chickens.  But I think the opposite is true.  God cares about every aspect of our lives and is willing to help out when we ask.  My wife suffers from chronic pain and has told me she seldom prays for herself.  She says she feels selfish asking for God’s help when she knows so many people who are suffering far more than she.  I understand this, but the Bible is clear that God wants us to ask for His help and delights to answer our prayers.

                I have three wonderful kids.  They’re all adults now (notice I didn’t say they’re all grown!) and live their own lives.  But I still delight to help them when they need it.  Now the things they can take care of themselves--well that’s another matter.  Now that they are grown, I would think they had lost their minds if they came and asked me to make their bed or help them brush their teeth.  They are more than capable of doing those things for themselves.  But there are still things they come to me for and I am glad to help them out.

                So too with God.  He wants you to take care of those things you can do.  For example, why should He send visitors to your church if you haven’t invited anyone.  Why should He give you knowledge to teach a Bible lesson you haven’t studied?  There are some things you must do for yourself.

                But there are some things only God can do.  You can’t convict a soul of their need for Jesus, but He can.  You can’t heal that loved one of cancer, but He can.  There are so many things that we do without because we don’t take it to Him in prayer.  James said “Ye have not because ye ask not.”  He goes on to talk about asking amiss, but I have found that most pastors have more of a problem with not asking to start with.

                Does God want to bless your church?  Of course He does--it is His bride and He cares more about it than you do.  But very often He waits to bless a congregation until someone begins to pray.  Why is that?  No one knows.  Some have speculated that by working through answered prayer, God gets the glory rather than man.  That makes a lot of sense.  After all, it is His power that is getting the job done.  He ought to get the praise rather than us.

                But that means that you must be a man of prayer if you want to see God work in your small church.  So many pastors of little congregations get discouraged because they don’t see the “results” that the big churches experience.  They reason that there is no reason to pray for such things because they will never see those prayers answered.  But by failing to pray, they miss out on seeing God work in the way He wants to in their situation.

                A large teenager needs more food than a small child.  But the little one could have more than what the parent put on his plate if he would only ask.  Mom knows there is no point in putting an adult portion in front of him.  That amount of food would just be wasted.  But I don’t know of a loving mother anywhere that would not give her kid another helping if he was ready for it.  God may not give you the same blessing that He gives to the big church up the road.  He knows you don’t need it anyway.  But He will give you far more than you are already receiving if you will learn to ask in prayer.

                Oh our faith is just so small!  There is not a single pastor reading this that doesn’t already know the truth behind it.  You don’t need me to tell you about the power of prayer--most of you have experienced it time and time again.  But the plain fact is that we obviously don’t pray like we could and should.  If we did we would see God do greater works than we have already seen.  It’s time for us to stop writing and talking about praying and get down on our knees and get humble before God.