When people ask me “How can I pray for you?” I generally ask them to pray for my quiet times and sermon preparation – namely that the Lord would minister to me before I minister to others. This is especially true on Mondays when I endure my weekly letdown and set to work crafting another sermon.
Michael Emlet in his book, Cross Talk, wrote the following which is very apropos to the temptations I face.
A temptation in ministry is to think that just because we prepared a Bible study, a sermon, or a discipleship appointment (or wrote a book like this!), we are deeply engaging with the God of the universe. But that’s not necessarily true. It’s easy in ministry to live more as a ‘pipe’ than a ‘reservoir.’ That is, it’s easy to live merely as a conduit to others of the transforming truths of God’s Word, rather than as a changed and transformed reservoir who overflows with lived-out gospel truth. You wouldn’t imagine cooking meal after meal for your family without sitting down to enjoy that nourishment, would you? To paraphrase James 1:22, let’s not merely be hearers or speakers or counselors of the Word, but doers, first and foremost.
While God can use burned out, empty, and uninspired ministers to bless others, such pastors will not last long and eventually poison the flock. At some point in time, your messages will become insipid and insincere, and when the flock senses that you don’t believe what you are telling them, they will not believe the messages as well. So if you want to know how to pray for me, pray that I will believe and be transformed by what I say on Sundays.
P.S. Don’t worry. I am not on the brink of burnout. I am just asking for a preemptive prayer strike.