I suppose the worst thing one could observe in a minister of the gospel would be his totally inconsistent character . After that, one of the worst things I can say about a minister is this: he never reads. Reading Scripture, books on theology and practical ministry, and books on culture should be a steady feature of the growing minister’s life. After all, you are who you will be based on the people you meet, the places you go, and the books you read. Many on our staff read a book each month, and this is the book for March. If your staff does not regularly read the same books and meet to discuss them, why don’t you? You may have the most awesome staff on earth but they will not be what they could be without reading vital books.
One of the disciplines I began in seminary and have fulfilled almost every year since is to read at least one book on prayer annually. This year I am re-reading one of the best I have ever read, D.A. Carson’s A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers. I love this book for several reasons:
-it is biblical: its focus is on the actual prayers of Paul in Scripture
-it is personal: it provides helpful information on everything from journaling to organizing one’s prayers
-it is theological: some people have this annoying attitude that one can be a great scholar or a great practitioner, a great thinker or a great lover, but one cannot be both. D.A. Carson, a recognized New Testament scholar and theologian, shatters that myth in this book.
One helpful part of the book presents all the prayers of Paul in one section. Carson notes the vital role of intercession in the prayers of Paul, and the remarkable content of his requests. I will list for you all the references to Paul’s prayers. It may be a helpful exercise for you to take some time to pray through this yourself:
Romans 1:8-10; 10:1; 12:12; 15:5-6; 15:13; 15:30-33
I Corinthians 1:4-9; 16:23
II Corinthians 1:3-7; 2:14-16; 9:12-15; 12:7-9a; 13:7-9
Ephesians 1:3ff; 1:15-23; 3:14-21; 6:19-20
Philippians 1:3-6; 1:9-11; 4:6-7; 4:23
Colossians 1:3-14; 4:2-4
I Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2:13-16; 3:9-13; 5:23-24; 5:28
II Thessalonians 1:3ff; 1:11-12; 2:16-17; 3:2-5; 3:16
I Timothy 1:12; 2:1ff
II Timothy 1:3-7; 1:16-18; 4:22
Philemon 4-7; 25
That, my friends, represents a lot of praying. Pray on.