Do you think you pray enough? I’ve met a few clergy who do, but most say, “I should pray more…”
Here are four thoughts on prayer for clergy: 1) Prayer is crucial to sustain spiritual leadership.
2) Praying out of a sense of obligation is not life-giving.
3) Feeling guilty because you are not praying is also not life-giving.
4) Five minutes of prayer can help sustain your spiritual leadership and give you life. Is five minutes of prayer really enough? I’m not sure, but I AM sure, and say frequently, that five minutes of prayer is better than no minutes. I told a colleague last week that if every minister prayed for at least five minutes the church would be a different place. But that may get too much into obligation…
A friend told me her church had an overnight prayer vigil Maundy Thursday night. She signed up for 3 a.m., and went to the church and prayed for two hours. My first reaction was to feel inadequate. I’m not sure I’ve ever prayed consciously for two hours straight in my life.
But on reflection, I’m grateful there are people who are called to this type of prayer ministry, clergy and laity. I know I am not. But I am called to pray, for my own ministry and for others.
One model for daily prayer
Here’s what I do most days, and sometimes it takes only five minutes:
- Read a few verses of Scripture. (Currently I’m reading Opening to You, Norman Fischer’s Zen-inspired renditions of the Psalms.)
- Write down five things from the day before that I’m thankful for, and give thanks overall for the riches (literal and metaphorical) in my life.
- Reflect on the day ahead and ask God for clarity about what I want and ought to do for the day.
- Pray for those I love the most. I’ve stopped asking for specifics for them, and I mention their names to God, trusting God knows what they need more than I do.
- Pray for those in need, including a list of folks I pray for daily. In Leaders Who Last, I quoted Episcopal priest Todd Miller, who prays for five people from his church directory daily.
- Pray for those in positions of responsibility.
That’s what I do. What do you do?
Here is another post on prayer: 10 Prayer Hacks.