1 Samuel 12:23 “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.”
I would imagine that every spiritual leader has moments of being tempted to chuck the whole thing, but here Samuel states clearly that following through on that impulse would be sinning against the Lord. Political and military leaders have various things they can do to exercise and maintain their leadership, but the two major things a spiritual leader can and must do are pray and teach. (I need to state clearly that I am talking about those who lead by the Holy Spirit. There are various “spiritual leaders” who lead by all sorts of deceiving spirits. That is certainly an issue, but not one I’m addressing here.) Leadership is meaningless if there is no forward direction, so teaching the right way to go is part of the very definition. However, without prayer we are unlikely to find the right way and certainly no hope of following it consistently. As Christians we have the huge advantage of the Bible, but without prayer, and the intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit that engenders and represents, the Bible remains just a literary work. It is indeed a literary work without parallel, but if it is no more than that to us, there is no life in it. Every spiritual leader needs to maintain their own relationship with God, both seeking and following the right path for themselves, before they go expounding to others what the right path is for them. With that relationship in place, then they need to focus first on prayer for their flock, and only then on preaching and teaching. I wonder how different the Church would be today if all those in it with leadership positions followed that priority?
Ouch! I can at least say I am aware of the need for that priority, but I know I have room to grow in following it. I will confess to burnout, to praying for and working with people until I essentially give up on them. That isn’t keeping my eyes on Jesus! (Hebrews 12:1-2) I am never to give up on anyone, but neither am I to feel that I am personally responsible for how they respond to the truth I speak to them in love. That is the road to total breakdown! I am to pray and I am to speak, but I should not speak without having prayed. I’ve done too much of that! I need to remember that my responsibility is to God, and failing to pray for those in my care is sin against Him. I’ve never been one to spend hours on my knees, but I am learning what it is to “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) allowing the Holy Spirit to bring people and situations to my mind throughout the day and directing my thoughts to the Father as prayer. I need to do that better and more effectively! I do not want to be in the position of sinning against God by failing to do something as simple, and ultimately as satisfying, as praying.
Father, You’ve given me a message on prayer for this morning. May I deliver it accurately, in Your love and by Your Spirit, so that everyone in this church may learn the joy of fellowship with You and so grow as Your children, as You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!