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A minister must be learned, on pain of being utterly incompetent for his work. But before and above being learned, a minister must be godly.
Nothing could be more fatal, however, than to set these two things over against one another. Recruiting officers do not dispute whether it is better for soldiers to have a right leg or a left leg: soldiers should have both legs. Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. “What!” is the appropriate response, “than ten hours over your books, on your knees?” Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must turn from your books in order to turn to God?
You are students of theology; and, just because you are students of theology, it is understood that you are religious men—especially religious men,to whom the cultivation of your religious life is a matter of the profoundest concern—of such concern that you will wish above all things to be warned of the dangers that may assail your religious life, and be pointed to the means by which you may strengthen and enlarge it.
In your case there can be no “either—or” here—either a student or a man of God. You must be both.
-Benjamin B. Warfield, The Religious Life of Theological Students, 182-183
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.(Romans 8:34)
If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.
~Robert Murray M’Cheyne p. 179
HT: Justin Taylor
“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, at the heart of all our praying must be a biblical vision. That vision embraces who God is, what he has done, who we are, where we are going, what we must value and cherish. That vision drives us toward increasing conformity with Jesus, toward lives lived in the light of eternity, toward hearty echoing of the church’es ongoing cry, “even so, come, Lord Jesus!” That vision must shape our prayers, so that they things that most concern us in prayer are those that concern the heart of God. Then we will persevere in our praying, until we reach the goal God himself has set for us.
~D. A. Carson, A Call To Spiritual Reformation, p.62
We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)
To put the matter at its most basic, Paul’s prayer is the product of his passion for people. His unaffected fervency in prayer is not whipped-up emotionalism but the overflow of his love for brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
That means that if we are to improve our praying, we must strengthen our loving. As we grow in disciplined, self-sacrificing love, so we will grow in intercessory prayer. Superficially fervent prayers devoid of such love are finally phony, hollow, shallow.
~D. A. Carson, A Call To Spiritual Reformation, p.85
And sometimes when I look at my own children, I wonder if, should the Lord give us another thirty years, they will remember their father as a man of prayer, or think of him as someone distant who was away from home rather a lot and who wrote a number of obscure books. That quiet reflection often helps me to order my days.
~D. A. Carson, A Call To Spiritual Reformation, p.26
I must ask the question of myself, am I known for prayer? I don’t have any children of my own, but the question is still relevant, what what attributes are defining me? Am I so busy doing things I deem important that I am missing the most important thing? I can tell you, I need to work more on my priorities.
From Ray Ortlund,
“And who and what are ministers themselves? Frail men, fallible, sinning men, exposed to every snare, to temptation in every form; and from the very post of observation they occupy, the fairer mark for the fiery darts of the foe. They are no mean victims the great Adversary is seeking, when he would wound and cripple Christ’s ministers. One such victim is worth more to the kingdom of darkness than a score of common men; and on this very account, the temptations are probably more subtle and severe than those encountered by ordinary Christians. If this subtle Deceiver fails to destroy them, he artfully aims at neutralizing their influence by quenching the fervor of their piety, lulling them into negligence, and doing all in his power to render their work irksome. How perilous the condition of that minister then, whose heart is not encouraged, whose hands are not strengthened, and who is not upheld by the prayers of his people! It is not in his own closet and on his own knees alone that he finds security and comfort and ennobling, humbling and purifying thoughts and joys; but it is when his people also seek them in his behalf that he becomes a better and happier man and a more useful minister of the everlasting gospel.”
Gardiner Spring, The Power of the Pulpit (Edinburgh, 1986), pages 223-224.
If your pastor is struggling, and you are not praying for him, the failure is yours too. If your pastor is succeeding, and you are praying for him, the victory is yours together.
Francis Schaeffer once asked his wife:
“Edith, I wonder what would happen to most churches and Christian work if we awakened tomorrow, and everything concerning the reality and work of the Holy Spirit, and everything concerning prayer, were removed from the Bible. I don’t mean just ignored, but actually cut out—disappeared. I wonder how much difference it would make?” We concluded it would not make much difference in many board meetings, committee meetings, decisions and activities.
—Edith Schaeffer, The Tapestry: The Life and Times of Francis and Edith Schaeffer (Waco: Word, 1981), 356.
HT: Justin Taylor