Attention Church: Our Preachers Still Need Our Prayers

DSCF4077

This post is a continuation of a two-part series on prayer and the act of preaching. Read Part One.

In the book of Acts, it’s hard to miss the fact that the apostles gave their attention “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). But what does this actually mean? Up to this point in Acts, there hasn’t been that much praying (so, for example, it isn’t even completely clear whether 2:42 means ‘they prayed’ or ‘they kept going to the temple’). But in Acts 4:24-30 we see that when the church prays, it prays for the preaching of the apostles. And although I can’t prove it, I suspect that from this point on in Acts praying for the impact of the apostles’ preaching is considered a complete no-brainer. We can see basically the same concern when Paul writes to the Colossians:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. (Col 4:2–4)

Paul clearly expects—and longs for—the prayers of the Christians at Colossae for his preaching.

So what should we do? Let me give you a straightforward double challenge.

First, resolve to make sure that from now on (whatever your habit has been in the past), you will pray for your own preaching. Perhaps you have been totally consistent in this for years. It may be that you would never dream of standing up to speak to anyone without praying that God would help you to believe and live your own sermon. And it may be that you always pray for those on whom you are about to inflict the sermon—if that’s you, well and good. However, if you are part of the (large?) number of Bible teachers who would be rather embarrassed (or deeply ashamed?) if the amount of time and energy they had put into praying through and for the sermon were to be announced to the congregation just before they stood up to speak, this may be a great time to hit the reset button and repent.

The second part of the challenge is this: make sure that your church prays together for the preaching. I haven’t done any exhaustive research (well, actually, I haven’t done any research at all on this), but I suspect that the church prayer meeting is in rapid decline. The growth of home groups is, I think, a really good thing, but it doesn’t come without a cost. In my experience, the cost is that the ‘prayer’ part of the home group is always weaker than the study part. The net result is that we pray more for my Aunt Nelly’s next-door neighbour’s friend’s daughter than we do for the proclamation of the message of Jesus. (And it’s not that my Aunt Nelly’s next-door neighbour’s friend’s daughter doesn’t need prayer—I’m arguing for both/and rather than either/or.) So, again, it’s just worth checking—is there a dedicated time during the week when people gather specifically to pray for our core business? If not, please make one.

Book-Cover-Saving-Eutychus-Preaching-Gary-Millar-and-Phil-Campbell-197x300—Gary Millar is Principal of Queensland Theological College (QTC), Brisbane, Australia.

This post was written by Gary Millar in Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s word and keep people awake and has been used with permission. Buy Saving Eutychus: Amazon | Matthias Media

Leadership Resources

Leadership Resources exists to equip and encourage pastors around the world to teach God’s word with God’s heart. Learn more about our work, our approach, and see how your church can make a worldwide difference with God's Word.