The Capranica

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Location: Hemet, California, United States

Co-Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jacinto, California

Monday, June 06, 2005

Do Pastors Really Pray?

The referenced article details a recent study on the prayer life of pastors. The findings reveal a deep satisfaction among many pastors (if not most) regarding their personal prayer life. The level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction tends to be linked to the amount of time a pastor spends in prayer. The report notes: "The amount of time spent in prayer: Pastors who are very satisfied spend an average of 56 minutes a day in prayer; those who are somewhat satisfied average 43 minutes; those who are somewhat dissatisfied average 29 minutes; and those who are very dissatisfied average 21 minutes." Satisfaction or the lack thereof is also linked to what pastors do during prayer: "How they divide their prayer time: Ministers who are very satisfied spend considerably less time than average making requests and considerably more time in quiet time or listening to God;" "The study clearly showed that what drives a satisfying prayer life for a minister is spending less time asking God for things and more time listening to what God has to say . . . " Hmm, what exactly does this last item mean: "listening to what God has to say?" Could this be another illustration of our lack of trust in the sufficiency of the Scripture? Perhaps so, if this "listening" time is disconnected from the only infallible source we have from which to hear God speak. It is another sign of a postmodern (and unpublished) mindset when we suggest that what God says to us personally could be divorced from (and even contradictory to) what God has already revealed in the Bible. Some have a tendency to confuse their own daydreaming (even about Scriptural things) as revelation from God. If what is meant by "listening" to God is the intake and proper understanding, response to and application of Scripture to life and thinking, then this could be a definite profitable time of prayer. However, if this "listening" time is merely being "quiet before the Lord," and trying to feel something ethereal or "hear" some inner voice, devoid of the propositional truth of Scripture, this is not biblical praying. I fear that it is this latter idea that many mean when they speak about "listening" to God. How can you be completely sure that what you are listening to is God, if it is merely coming from within? Such listening techniques are really simply masquerading the elevation of ourselves and devaluing the Scriptures. God does speak. He speaks through what He has already spoken: the Bible. The intersection of biblical truth with life situations is the illuminating work of the Spirit. The intersection of personal feeling (absent of biblical input) with life situations, is nothing more than daydreaming. For those interested, John Piper's chapter in Desiring God on prayer contains helpful content on the subject of prayer. Here is a link to the online version of chapter six on prayer. Chapter five in the book ends with a great practial illustration from the life of George Mueller on the balance between Scripture and prayer. I commend them for your consideration and careful application.

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