A Pastor's Prayer Time
The duties of pastor are wide and varied.
This morning I was reminded of one of the duties that often gets neglected in the life of a pastor.
Personal Prayer and Study of Scripture.
My wife and I have been taking time each morning to read a passage of scripture and pray together with Bug, our 9 month old girl. This has been healthy and healing for all of us, and I am grateful for the practice.
Last month I took some time one day, shut my doors at the office and at home and went out to one of the retreat centers in Ojai just to pray. How vital that was to my learning and growth. I have tried this from time to time, and know that Jesus set the model for just such away time in the Gospels.
I have proposed to the church I served that I should be provided time in my schedule of pastoral duties time for personal prayer and devotion to the scriptures, over and above time to prepare for Bible Studies, Sermons, and praying with parishioners, individually or communally.
I was surprised at the resistance to such a thing. Then, I remembered that most people think this should be personal time, and that the pastor would have no particular need to set apart time in pastoral duties to do so. I even went back to the Book of Discipline for reference. In the duties of pastor, these important activities are not delineated as part of the pastoral role, at least not explicitly.
There are a couple of clauses in par. 340.2.a.1 "To preach the Word of God, lead in worship, read and teach the Scriptures, and engage the people in study and witness" and par 340.2.a.1.b "to lead people in discipleship and evangelism outreach that others might come to know Christ and follow him."
These clauses hint at study of Scripture, and leading the congregation in discipleship. Somehow that gets distorted in the reading and transmission into something that does not include time for personal study and prayer that are the core of leadership. One must do, in order to lead. The other option is to just order, and the role of Pastor was not intended to be one who just orders the people around.
I am thankful for those who have reminded me of these activities of leadership. Now to the practice that goes along with leading. It is time to restore these activities more fully to my ministry, and to the congregational understanding of the duties of pastor.