One of passages which most shapes my understanding of the ministry is Acts 6:1-7. Yes, it introduces us to the ministry of deacons and the importance of that ministry to the church. But it also introduces us—with devastating clarity—to the two-fold responsibility of those who shepherd Christ’s flock: “We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). Most pastors I know are very diligent in their “ministry of the Word.” Their consciences would smite them if they didn’t study well before they preach. Excellent. But I wonder if we’re as diligent in our ministry of prayer? I’m not, at least not as I ought to be. I tend to focus more on my speaking to men on behalf of God than on my speaking to God on behalf of men. It’s helpful to remind myself that prayer is at least as essential as preaching.
Pastor friends, study well. Exercise oversight well. But by all means, pray well. Consider these good words from A. C. Dixon:
“When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely upon education, we get what education can do; when we rely upon eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. And so on. But when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.” (quoted by Robert Hall Glover in The Bible Basis of Missions)