A MANUAL FOR PASTORS
The Principle of:
Principles of Kingdom Living Brought Through
ONE MORNING IN SOUTH INDIA, I awoke before daylight and went out of my house. In a nearby field I could faintly see some objects that had not been there the evening before. In the dim light I couldn't tell what they were. But as the sun came on, I saw shepherds had brought their flocks to rest in that field. The flock was sleeping; the shepherds were watching. I watched as those shepherds drove away dogs and big birds that would have injured their sheep. After a while, they led the sheep on to better pasture.
The shepherds kept watch over their flock by night just like the shepherds in the field on the night of Jesus' birth. They were keeping them safe from the attacks of enemies. Apparently, they never stopped doing this throughout the night. I knew there was something there for me to learn about being an effective Pastor.
The Greek New Testament word translated pastor is poimén. It means "one who tends a flock of sheep." The business of Pastors is to keep spiritual watch over their flock. The greatest way to do this is in praying for them. This keeps the "shepherd" spiritually aware and produces much in the lives under care.
Paul was not afraid to lay bare his own soul in writing his Epistles. He made known in them the intimate workings of the Holy Spirit going on inside him. This was especially so when it came to his concern for the people under his care. He ministered to them as a father would to his children, or sometimes as a pregnant mother would to her unborn babe. This care in him for others brought him into a valuable understanding about prayer that helps us.
There is a particularly provoking statement from him in Gal 4:19. He spoke of my little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. When Paul spoke of travailing in birth, he used words that speak of a pregnant mother laboring to give birth. He was, as it were, pregnant with those he called his little children. They were the people to whom he had ministered and for whom he cared.
When a mother bears a child in her womb to full term, she never stops being pregnant till the child is born. Every hour of the day and night her life revolves around the bearing of another life within her. So, Paul bore others in a spiritual womb, not for the formation of their own life, but for the formation of Christ's life in them. We call this the "womb of intercession." All of us can learn from Paul. Parents can learn about praying for their children. Husbands and wives can find new life together as they learn to pray effectively one for the other. Pastors can learn from him about ministering to their congregations in intercessory prayer. Intercession can touch every relationship we have and make it rich in Christ. It can reach every soul for whom we care and release in them a new realm of living in Christ.
In I Thes 5:17, Paul said, Pray without ceasing. He meant, "Make it your unvarying practice to be always praying. Do not allow your soul to stray from communion with the Lord."
Surely there were times Paul did others things besides praying, but there was no activity that ruled out praying. He must have never stopped praying, any more than a pregnant mother stops for a while being pregnant until she gives birth.
The secret he found of praying without ceasing can be our secret too, even if we begin slowly. We can start by discovering the times we are doing something else, but can still pray--when walking, when riding a bicycle, riding on public transportation, driving a car, working in a field, preparing food, washing clothes, chopping wood. Any task not requiring the total concentration of our minds and spirits allows time for praying. As we grow in relationship with the Lord, we find there is hardly a time we are not free to pray, sometimes out loud with words that can be heard, sometimes silently from deep within our spirits.
For me I have found an excellent time to pray is when cutting grass. I have come to identify this with interceding for others. Another time is when driving. Frequently when Glenda and I are traveling, as I drive and she sits next to me, we spend the time praying together. I have also found another excellent time to pray is in the middle of the night when I am awakened and cannot immediately return to sleep. The hours between 2:00 and 4:30 a.m. are excellent for intercession, especially for those who are asleep. At that time, their souls are more at ease than in the day and more ready to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is especially a good time to pray for one's family.
Another excellent time to pray is when having to wait for someone at an inconvenient place. This could be considered an annoyance, but I've found we never have to consider this as time wasted. When we take upon ourselves this discipline of praying without ceasing, we can actually rejoice in the privilege of having some extra time for its unhindered practice.
MANY PERSONS cannot pray without ceasing because their minds and spirits are taken up with activities that crowd out praying. These are spiritual robbers. But, they can be replaced with praying. For instance, the Lord spoke to me that the same part of the mind that worries is the part that also prays. Well, I was very skilled in worrying. I had learned it as a little boy growing up during World War II and had followed the practice all my life. The Lord instructed me to allow thoughts of worry to become signals to pray. Formerly, I would awaken in the middle of the night to spend hours worrying. Now, I awaken to spend them praying for the ones about whom I once worried.
For many of us this can make much time for praying. I asked a group recently how many of them knew what it meant to worry without ceasing. Many raised their hands. Then, I told them they could as well pray without ceasing.
But there is something needed here, We must ask the Lord to change the worrying into a signal. It can become like an alarm going off to tell our souls, "You are worrying, which is a fruitless occupation. You can now be praying."
Besides worrying, there are other spiritual robbers: fear of impending danger, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, extreme self-consciousness, an inordinate craving for food or drink, fixations on other persons, especially sexual lusts, guilt, and so on. All of these, and more, can occupy the same area in the soul that prays. For the spiritually disciplined person, the recognition of any one of them can become a signal to pray.
Ask the Lord to help you discover the unfruitful things that occasionally occupy your thoughts. Turn each one over to Him to change into an alarm signal calling your soul to pray. When the alarm goes off, it will be a signal for you to turn again to the Lord. If you have trouble doing this, find someone who knows the authority and power of Christ and ask that person to pray with you.
LET ME ADD SOMETHING more at this point. It came to me today while
our group was praying together before some left to minister in a healing
service. It is with regard to David. One of the group read his Ps 25
and made some comments on it. In the Psalm David said, Mine eyes are
ever toward the LORD (:15). Then he said, O keep my soul,
and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in Thee. Let
integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on Thee.
David apparently knew the secret of praying without ceasing. Busy king
and warrior that he was, and Prophet, he learned to hold the Lord vividly
present before him. Even in his weakness, is there any wonder that he
could hear the Lord and bring so powerful a word from Him? There is much
in his Psalms that will benefit us in this matter.
This is a powerful way of praying, but many never know it. Some are never encouraged to receive the gift of tongues. Others are taught that it is not right to expect it or receive it in this day and age. Still others who have received the gift never learn all of its value and practical use. Ignorance of its value robs a Pastor of one of the most useful and blessed means of prayer there is and lessens his effectiveness as a minister of the Gospel. Even though there are some powerful men and women of God who never speak in tongues, this does not lessen its value. How much more powerful could be their ministry if they knew and used this valuable gift from the Holy Spirit!
Often the situations a Pastor faces are totally baffling, as more and more cases will become and the Day of the Lord draws nearer. Facing these, a Pastor (or parent, or any other minister) who prays in tongues can pray over situations beyond his or her natural understanding, but not beyond the understanding of the Holy Spirit.
There are several reasons why praying with the Spirit is a valuable practice, especially for a Pastor. Praying with the Spirit enables a Pastor to pray over matters that are completely baffling to the mind and that have no natural solutions. 'Praying with the Spirit enables a Pastor to pray more easily while engaging in other activities. Praying with the Spirit brings the Holy Spirit into situations and brings about the release of His power and wisdom. Praying with the Spirit causes a Pastor to be edified in his own spirit. This is beneficial if he is to minister to his flock effectively.
In I Cor 14, Paul gave some of the reasons the gift of tongues was valuable to him. Every minister can find the same value in them that he found. He said, He that speaks in a tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God--Verse 2. It becomes the means of very private communication between an individual and the Lord. He said, He that speaks in a tongue edifies himself--Verse 4. It is a means of building up one's self in the Lord, so one can become a stronger minister for others. He said, I would that you all spoke with tongues, but rather (in order) that you (might) prophesy--Verse 5. Speaking in tongues can lead to the speaking forth of words from God that can be understood and that are anointed of His Spirit. In Verse 6, Paul speaks of revelation, knowledge, prophesying, and teaching, all of which strengthen a congregation, and all of which become more powerful as the result of speaking in tongues.
I BEGAN SPEAKING IN TONGUES several years ago while waiting on the Lord in the Sunday School room of a Baptist Church. Having no prior instruction as to the purpose of the gift and not being able to freely practice it where I worshiped and ministered. I became mostly private with it. For years it became my daily practice. But one day something happened that brought a new appreciation for the gift and gave new meaning to praying with The spirit. It was during the time of dark ness and tragedy that struck our family, of which I've spoken in other articles.
I had been invited to address a gathering of the Full Gospel Business Men, about two hours from my home. That day, before starting out for the meeting, I was confronted with a horrifying fact of something that had happened in our family. Had someone blasted me in the stomach with a gun, I would have welcomed it more. My mind became confused. Darkness closed in, along with fear guilt, oppression, and bewilderment. I could remember I was to go that night and speak, but was in so much shock I could not engage in conversation with anyone.
As I traveled, the oppression increased with the thought that soon I would have to stand before a group of people and give testimony of God's faithfulness and power.
Through all of this, the Lord broke in and spoke to me. What He said was so secret and what I was released to do was so private that for years I never spoke of it to anyone. Yet it has continued with me as a practice, bringing much spiritual edification and help. It has become particularly useful in the practice of praying without ceasing.
Breaking through the darkness of my soul that day, the Lord said to me, "Think in tongues."
I had never heard of this thing, nor did I know of a Scripture supporting it, but I began doing it. With no movement of my tongue of lips, there came a movement through my brain, like the thoughts of words I could not myself understand. They carried away with them the darkness. My mind was purged and I could think clearly. More important, I became aware of the Lord s presence.
What took place in our lives or in the meeting that night is not of significance at this point, except to say God proved Himself very faithful. I am simply relating what was the beginning of a practice that has continued with me for years. It is of particular value in praying for others and in bringing my mind before the Lord for the formation of His word within me.
It has continued with me, through nearly thirty-five years, to this day. Nothing is so calming and cleansing to my mind and heart as this inward praying and thinking with the spirit.
One day I shared my "secret" with Glenda that I had been thinking in tongues. She said, "I have done that for years." She didn't have all the theological training I had that conditioned me against the use of tongues. She just simply had opened herself to the Holy Spirit and allowed the gift to flow. One day, she said, while praying with the spirit, the Lord spoke to her, "Swallow!" She did and the tongues went down into her spirit. She said she could hear herself speaking in tongues though her lips or mouth were not moving.
She said, further, that it had become her practice, particularly in counseling troubled souls, to pray thus while listening to the other person pour out the woe that had come upon them. Thus, the Lord would release in her the wisdom, or revelation, or anointing for deliverance to set that one free.
Glenda has been used of he Lord to counsel and help set free many oppressed souls. I have sometimes watched as there have come from her unusual words of wisdom and knowledge that I knew were not coming from her natural mind. They came because, while she was listening to the person she was counseling, she was also praying in her spirit. As a result, the Holy Spirit released through her His wisdom and His counsel.
I have appreciated this gift in her particularly when I am ministering
the word and she is with me. She listens attentively and give me every
assurance with her face, all the while praying silently in tongues.
The edification that comes to her in doing this often brings the release
of some word of knowledge or wisdom which she in turn may share.
PAUL HAD SOME OTHER THINGS TO SAY about praying with the Spirit in Rom 8. This information is exceedingly valuable for a Pastor in leading a flock facing trouble (or for a parent leading a family through tribulation). In verses 26 and 27 he said, Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought (or as necessity demands): but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to (the will of) God.
Generally, we know how to address God in prayer, but in some cases, our poverty of spirit will be so great and the situation so demanding, only the Holy Spirit can do the praying for us. He knows how to face each problem and how to bring supplication before God. Let us notice some of the benefits of praying with the Spirit as Paul laid them out in the above Romans passage.
As the Holy Spirit prays, He does it with groanings which cannot be uttered. These groanings are within the spirit of the one praying. They join with the deep sigh of the human soul which, in some cases, cannot participate mentally with the Spirit in making the supplication. The groanings are so deep there may be no utterance anyone can hear or understand accompanying them. There is no need for a human ear to understand, for the supplication is toward the Lord only.
The Spirit makes the intercession according to the will of God. He resides in so close harmony with the Heavenly Father that the supplication He makes will always move toward the working out of His highest will. What a comfort this is to any leader who does not know how to lead his people through the trouble that is even now impending!
And here is a marvelous thing: as we pray with the spirit, the mystery of the way before us becomes more clear. The guidance we can give become more pure.
SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
3 PAUL ALSO PRAYED WITH THE UNDERSTANDING.
In these Epistles we can find twelve distinct prayers of intercession. We have found it a good practice to take one of these per month as a guide for praying with understanding. This will work toward building up a flock (or a family) to become strong in the time of trouble. All the prayers will work toward building the character of Christ's Kingdom into the lives both of those for whom we pray as well as our own.
Many wonders will take place in the congregation whose Pastor prays along
the line of these prayers for the people. They will also change the Pastor.
Each prayer works toward the release into lives of things we might call "Kingdom Commodities." These cannot be taught entirely by man. They are born of the Holy Spirit. They come in response to the kind of praying we are learning. They are essential for those who will stand in the time of trouble and who will function with Christ in His Kingdom. It is for this we who are leaders are called to see our people prepared. The Pastor who will take each of these twelve commodities and place an emphasis on them month by month will find something wonderful come forth in the flock.
From Ephesians 1:15-19 we gain our first four prayers. With them we will make JANUARY wisdom and revelation month. We will make FEBRUARY hope and certainty month. We will make MARCH personal value to God month. We will make APRIL power month.
From Ephesians 3:14-19 we gain our next three prayers. We will make MAY inner government month. We will make JUNE love month. We will make JULY fullness month.
From Philippians 1:9,10 we take two more prayers. We will make AUGUST discernment month. We will make SEPTEMBER sincerity month.
From Colossians 1:9-11 we take our last three prayers. We will make
OCTOBER the month for understanding God's will. We will
make NOVEMBER the month for fruitfulness and increase in the
knowledge of God. We will make DECEMBER the month for enabling
grace that leads to patience, longsuffering and joy.
We Continue with Lesson 4:
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