A pastor told a group of us at a conference last weekend that in 17 years of ministry only once had anyone ever inquired about her prayer life. “People ask, ‘How are you doing?’ but no one asks, ‘How are you doing with God?’” She told us she wishes someone would.
Her plaintive remark got me thinking. Don’t we all need someone who will be caring enough, daring enough, to ask us how our communication with God is going? I am blessed to have some friends who do that for me. Frankly, I don’t know where I’d be without them.
If I need friends like that in my life, then I imagine that pastors, with all the pressures they face, need such friends, too. Nevertheless, not everyone should rush to the assignment.
It seems to me that in order to be truly helpful, people who want to genuinely encourage their pastors’ prayer lives should have several qualities. They should:
• already be praying privately for their pastors.
• have an established personal relationship with their pastors in which there is mutual trust.
• recognize that like everyone else, their pastors are frail human beings and have weaknesses.
• seek to encourage rather than to judge or “improve” their pastors.
• demonstrate honesty, humility, and vulnerability about their own prayer lives to avoid coming across as intimidating prayer giants. If prayer is never a struggle for them, they’re probably not good candidates for the assignment.
• be able to keep confidences. The last thing pastors need is to have their feelings of inadequacy aired before the church.
Pastors out there, what’s your experience? Would you appreciate having someone inquiring about your prayer life from time to time? Or have you had bad experiences along those lines? What do we need to learn from one another to be true spiritual friends who encourage one another in our lives with God and prayer?