(The following is the next entry in a 31-day blog journey through John Piper’s, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for a Radical Ministry [Broadman and Holman, 2002.])
Prayer is the coupling of primary and secondary causes. It is the splicing of our limp wire to the lightening bolt of heaven. How astonishing it is that God wills to do His work through people. It is doubly astonishing that He ordains to fulfill His plans by being asked to do so by us. God loves to bless people. But even more He loves to do it in answer to prayer….
A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit—which is the only kind that matters—knows neither God not himself. A pastor who does not know the rhythm of desperation and deliverance must have his sights only on what man can achieve.
A cry for help from the heart of a childlike pastor is sweet praise in the ears of God. Nothing exalts Him more than the collapse of self-reliance which issues in passionate prayer for help (53, 54, 55).
My prayer life always needs more passion. I have highs and lows, not a consistent, strong heartbeat on the monitor of prayer, but something irregular. It is not that I do not pray, but that my prayers could not be described by utter desperation, effective fervency, and great love for the lost. I am desperate for my children’s sanctification in prayer, for my wife’s joy and health, and for my church’s growth in love and grace. But I look at the calendar on my desk in which I can pray for the people groups and cities of China daily and I cringe; I hope to cry out with more earnestness for more than a billion people in need of Christ.
Closer to home, I hope to be earnest and desperate in prayer daily for my church and leaders. According to what Piper teaches, in order to bring about the deep, abiding, discerning, wise, meek, merciful, loving, zealous, kind, faithful, courageous, grace-filled, merciful, Spirit-empowered, Christlike shepherding character needed in my leaders, such only can be achieved by God working powerfully in each one of us; it is beyond what man can achieve. Therefore, I need to prioritize and remain faithful in prayer more than anything else. For, as A. C. Dixon has said,
When we depend upon organizations, we get what organizations can do; when we depend upon education, we get what education can do; when we depend upon man, we get what man can do; but when we depend upon prayer, we get what God can do, (56).
For a contemporary generation, in order to awaken us to greater prayer and a greater discernment toward the sorts of activities that have the dangerous effect of making us self-reliant rather than more and more prayerful, maybe we should rewrite Dixon’s line like this:
When we depend upon social networking, we will get what social networking can do; when we depend upon the blogosphere, we will get what the blogosphere can do; when we depend upon demographic studies and social research, we will get what demographic studies and social research can do; when we depend upon prayer…
Let us become “childlike” pastors – for there is no professional childlikeness – setting our sights on God-sized things. Let us take the limp wires of our ministries and lives and hold them up in the whirlwinds of life and shepherding in the hopes that the Holy One will send the charge of his Spirit through us. Let us pray, and let us pray with passion, for the glory of Christ.