The EP of Ohio Valley Presbytery, Susan McGhee, gave the Pastor’s Charge for Andy’s Installation service. Basically, it was a pithy word of encouragement to him – very practical and I felt applicable to my own life and ministry.
She charged him to take seriously the task of prayer for the congregation, and offered him four questions to pray through on a regular basis as a way to facilitate it. Though one might think this is a no-brainer for pastors, it actually seems like a discipline that often goes by the wayside because of all the other duties we easily get caught up in. But, I truly believe that holding them up in prayer is our first responsibility.
The four questions are:
1. What is your deepest prayer for this person?
- What would you like my prayer to be for this person?
What do I need to let go so I can join God in prayer for this person?
Is there anything I can say or do on behalf of God to this person?
I felt like I could definitely make this a regular practice in my life for various friends and family, but also…for the babies. Because for awhile my only prayers boiled down to:
“God, please make them go to sleep now.”
“God, please make them stop crying.”
“God, please make them stop annoying me.”
Seriously though, in the midst of all of this I started to think that something was off. I wondered if…my prayers needed to be different. So I began to pray: “God, help me let go of expectations of how the babies should be sleeping, or how they should be acting or what they should be doing right now. Help me to let them be who they are in their own season and process.” It may seem a little silly, but it changed my perspective on so much – their late night wakings – and staying awake – their fussing late afternoon, their rejecting certain foods, etc. Granted I still have more moments than not where I’m overcome with frustration and exhaustion but this prayer helps me to breathe through it.
I was reminded that prayer does indeed
change people…and usually that person ends up being the one who is praying…even in intercessory prayer.
My hope in praying for the babies in this way…is that I will learn that this is the most important act I do for them. And also, I hope to learn not only how to pray but to parent them in the way they need the most from me. And, in the process I think this will give space for the Divine Parent to continue to do that necessary grace-filled work in me.
Meanwhile, please (keep on – if you already do) intercede for us regularly in this way:
- The babies’ health and growth.
- Our living into being a family that loves each other courageously and honestly.
- That our family would know how to minister to those around us in the way God uniquely calls us.
Whatever God reveals to you as you intercede for us – I’d love to hear it!
[Photo from here.]