Why Pastors Should Consider Coming to A Praying Life Pastors’ Conference

by Paul E. Miller

Recently I was discipling a small group of pastors. One highly successful young pastor leaned in and asked me, "'Why don't I pray more?" I said: "You are far too confident in yourself and your abilities."

Can’t most of us relate to this pastor’s struggle? There is nothing more difficult to learn than dependence. And most pastors, in particular, have never been taught the kind of active dependence that produces a praying pastor. There were no courses on prayer at seminary; no older pastor ever mentored them in this area. So they quietly live prayerless lives.

What does a prayerless life look like? I could give so many examples. One way I have of digging into a pastor's life is asking him how he prays about sexual temptation. Usually I get a blank stare. Though most pastors struggle in this area, few pray thoughtfully about that struggle. In other words, in this key battleground area of life, pastors are on their own.

Here's another example. Pastors often struggle with strong-willed (and usually wealthy) men and women. Self-made men who rule in their work often expect the same at church, and they can make a pastor’s life miserable. Most pastors, especially young ones, are either worn down by these men or go into some form of soul freeze. It has never occurred to them to ask God regularly for help with these individuals. They struggle on in their own strength, functionally alone.

But the biggest way prayerlessness impacts pastors is that the job overwhelms them. Considering how difficult the work of ministry is, it is easy to see why! Pastor, you were never meant to carry this burden alone. We want to "give you a hope and a future" by helping you learn to make prayer your central work.

One of the first things we’ll suggest is that you resign (in your heart!) and let the Spirit of Jesus run your congregation. You can’t imagine how freeing this is and how it will sustain you through all the work ahead. We have very specific ways of showing you how to begin to let the Sprit shape the narrative of your congregation.

I believe that you will come away from our pastors' conference with a tremendous burden lifted from your shoulders and a renewed vision for how to do ministry in step with the Spirit (which is inseparable from learning to pray).

Hope to see you there!

 

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How to Protect Your Church Through Prayer

Bob Allums is the Director of seeJesus Seminars: A Praying Life and served as a pastor for many years before joining the mission. 

If you want to meet a praying pastor, talk to a man who is planting a church. Talk to him before he plants a church or six months after it is running. Talk to him while it's struggling along in the first year. But don't talk to him after he's seen some success. 

 This isn't a hypothetical scenario. It's the story of New York City's Redeemer Presbyterian Church, for one. Keller writes:

It is accurate to say that Redeemer was born in prayer. I think it is honest to also say, however, that subsequently, through the rest of our history, Redeemer has not been known as a praying church, despite the fact that we have always had a cadre of people who both formally and informally supported the gospel work through prayer. (Source)

I suspect this is the story of many of our churches and ministries. Call it fear or call it excitement, we run to God quickly when starting a new venture -- be that a church plant of a new pastorate. But we do a few things right, and we get very busy repeating those things. We get new ideas, and we trust in them. And before we know it, we stop praying. 

But the truth is that none of us can count on other people praying for our churches. We have to learn to do it ourselves. Ole Hallesby writes, "The work of praying is prerequisite to all other work in the kingdom of God, for the simply reason that it is by prayer we couple the powers of heaven to our helplessness" (Prayer, 82). We can do, do, do all the work in the world to no effect if we are doing it all in our own strength.

Jonathan Edwards once said that prayer is only the voice of faith. We need to learn to speak with this voice, to cry out boldly with this voice, and to exercise this voice in all the seasons of our life and work. But can someone teach us, as pastors, how to pray?

Tim Keller asked us to take Redeemer's leadership through a prayer seminar because it is, in Keller's words, "the most practical training in prayer possible." Since that time, we've led hundreds of other pastors through an approach to prayer that actually works in the nitty-gritty of everyday life and ministry.

Let's not assume that someone else is praying for our churches. Join us in Lakeland, FL, and let's learn together how to protect, challenge, encourage, and actually change our churches through prayer. 

- Bob Allums, Director of A Praying Life

Pastors Conference

You Can Enjoy Ministry Again (If You Do This One Thing)

Bob Allums is the Director of seeJesus Seminars: A Praying Life and served as a pastor for many years before joining the mission.

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Who took the joy out of ministry? How can we -- who have immersed ourselves in and committed our lives to the best news on earth -- feel so unhappy in our work?

Is it because we constantly see people we care about wreck their lives? Is it our unconscious attempt to distance ourselves from some overly-emotional, anti-intellectual strains in Christianity? Is it because we're weary of being criticized? Or simply that we're tired of spending untold hours on sermon prep only to peer into the sea of faces and find people checking email?

There are probably many reasons for our collective absence of joy in the pastorate, but I will offer one: it is because we are disconnected from the source. I don't mean this in a generic, "we-should-all-be-closer-to-God" sense. I have something more specific in mind.

When Jesus briefed his disciples in the Farewell Discourse of John 15-17, he promised them that they'd be okay -- better than okay, actually -- when he left. Why? Because he was going to give them the Holy Spirit. 

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-15, ESV)

Jesus begins here to paint a picture of the intricate way that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are bound together. Tim Keller writes:

"The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are adoring one another, giving glorifying love to one another and delighting in one another. . . . God is, therefore, profoundly happy, filled with perfect joy -- not some abstract tranquility but the fierce happiness of dynamic loving relationships." (Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, 67)

Most of us don't think of God as happy -- not really. But Scripture shows us that the Trinity is filled with happiness, and that theirs is a happiness in which we can share. Jesus says, "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). Jesus is promising us the same, overflowing, must-be-shared joy that he experiences in perfect communion with God.

The truth is that we, as Christians and--yes, as pastors--are invited into happiness, into joy. There's a clear pathway for entering it, and it's not a secret. But it's also not easy. We have to reconnect to the source through prayer. "Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). Did you catch that? Jesus assures us that the joy we long for (and have nearly given up on finding) will be ours when we commune with the Father and the Son through the Spirit.

At the A Praying Life Pastors' Conference, we will explore how to share in the joy of Christ through prayer. We'll learn how to build our faith and our prayer life through prayer stories and explore a practical, effective, and sustainable system for prayer using prayer cards.

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We can't promise that strengthening your prayer life will make people stop checking emails during your sermons or turning their lives into train wrecks. But we can promise that it will reconnect you to the source of joy, making your own worship more heartfelt and robust and giving you fresh courage and confidence. And the truth is, people will see and respond to the difference in you. Even if they are suspicious, no one can resist joy.

- Bob Allums, Director of A Praying Life 

A look into Bob Loker's trip to Guatamala

Bob Loker chairs the seeJesus board of directors and is a trainer. In this post, he shares about a recent trip to Guatemala where he and a seeJesus trainee taught the Bethesda course and Person of Jesus.

Debora Ramirez is a Guatemalan missionary I have known for several years. She is a native Spanish speaker and also speaks excellent English. I regularly travel to Guatemala to teach The Person of Jesus and the Bethesda Series, and Debora has helped me teach.

Last spring seeJesus invited Debora, together with Barry and Marquita Staley who are also missionaries in Guatemala, to come to Lakeland, Florida where Timo Strawbridge, our senior trainer, led them through our Small Group Leader Training  course. As a follow-up, in early July we planned a trip to Livingston, Guatemala, a small town on the Caribbean coast, for Debora to lead classes in Bethesda for school children during the day and The Person of Jesus for adults at night.

Livingston is a poor but vibrant town nestled between the jungle and the coast and only reached by boat. It is noted for its unusual mix of Garifuna, Afro-Caribbean, and Mayan languages and culture. Its claim to movie fame is that in 1935 The New Adventures of Tarzan was partially filmed there. Scenes were filmed where the explorers prepare to go from town into the jungle. Little has changed except for a proliferation of motorcycles, and Livingston would still make a good movie set.

Although the training Timo had given Debora focused on leading Bible discussions around a table for six to twelve participants, she ended up teaching over 700 kids over three days. Her first class had 250 students! But she did great. Debora is a gifted teacher and the kids loved the classes, especially the skits and the storytelling. There is no doubt about it: Although Bethesda is written primarily for learning disabled young adults, it is easily adaptable for youth and oral learners. Also, while my Spanish is adequate, it is great to have a native Spanish speaker be the lead teacher.

Although we had scheduled our evening classes for teaching The Person of Jesus to adults, a tropical storm hit during the first class and we had to cancel it partway through. The weather was so bad that we could not return by launch to our mission base so we “camped out” in a small house in town. There was no inside plumbing and we had no change of clothes so we were a little sweaty and disheveled teaching the next day. However, our daytime hangout between classes was Restaurante Happy Fish, which had intermittent internet, served great seafood and prepared meals with purified water. (If you have traveled to small Central American towns, you know how important that is.) Storms were predicted for the following night also, so we canceled again so we would not miss our early morning bus back to Guatemala City.

We are so thankful for the ways God was at work on our trip and for the joy of studying Jesus with our Guatemalan brothers and sisters!

"Teaching with Deborah"

livingston 047 June2016

 

"Senior Students"

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Pray or Plan?


To pray or to plan?
 
The short answer is YES! 
 
When it comes down to doing life in today's rushed world, I think we can all agree that the better you plan, the better off you are. 
 
But what does that have to do with doing all of life through prayer?
 
Everything! Where do you think Jesus got his plans for the day? Since he was always looking to his Father, the plans for the day or the week had to come from his prayer times in the early morning. 
 
I have found this to be particularly liberating. Pray and let the plan(s) flow from your time with your Father. 
 
Here are some practical tips I have picked up through the years. 
 
1. One of my favorite prayer cards is simply labeled: "Myself: my commitment to God". The Scripture I use is Proverbs 16:3, "Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established." (See how the Bible promises that the plan(s) will flow from the commitment?) 
 
2. On the same card, I ask for wisdom. The Father loves it when we do this. It shows we see him for who he is and that pleases him. In fact, according to James 1, he loves to give wisdom when we ask for it. 
 
3. After committing our way (our day, our year, or our project) to the Lord and asking for wisdom, watch how the plans will come together. Something may come to you right then while you are praying. Or, you may pick up wisdom for your plan in a conversation with a friend, in a Bible passage you are reading, or in a sermon. One can never predict how the Spirit is going to weave the tapestry of the story. 
 
4. Once you have a plan down on paper, set about to faithfully execute it. Sometimes, faithful execution is the hardest part. But this is all part of the prayer story you are in. Note the areas where you need repentance and pray for help. Note things you learn and jot them down as you go through the plan. Note areas where it occurs to you that you need more obedience from your heart. Personally, I find it is in this part that I ask for more and more faith. Your prayer card(s) will help you here. 
 
5. Be adaptable. It's okay to adjust the plan as long as you are praying about it and seeking the Spirit's lead. Remember, in being adaptable to changing circumstances, you are fully engaging the story of what the Spirit is doing IN you, not just through you. 
 
6. Enjoy the fruit! Yes, don't forget to enjoy the whole story as much as possible. You have committed your work unto the Lord and he is blessing because he loves it! Love it with him.
 
7. Lastly, every so often, just look at the card and recall the story. You cannot help but thank God. That is genuine and often robust worship. 
 
Don't forget our Father loves to put you in situations where you are in over your head. You have the plan, but you don't have the expertise or the money or the personnel or....well, you get the picture. 
 
He is watching and listening to see if you will just sit there and worry or if you will excitedly ask big things of him. Ask away, thinking all the while, "I can't wait to see what the Father is going to do with this." 
 
Happy praying,
 
Bob Allums 
Director of seeJesus Seminars: A Praying Life

Paul's Spring Series at Chelten - 5/1/16

Please take time to view Paul's latest teaching and use the attached pdf as notes to follow along.

 

Spring Series at Chelton 5/1/16 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

Paul's Spring Series at Chelton 4/10/16

Paul's weekly Bible Study at Chelton. This week focused on boasting. Please use the participant's guide as you follow along.

Part: 1

Spring Series at Chelton 4/10/16, Part 1 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

 

Part: 2

Spring Series at Chelton 4/10/16, Part 2 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

Paul's Spring Series at Chelton 4/3/16

Paul's weekly Bible Study at Chelton. This week focused on being "In Israel." Please use the participant's guide as you follow along.

 Part 1:

Spring Series at Chelton 4/3/16 Part 1 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

 

Part: 2 

Spring Series at Chelton 4/3/16 Part 2 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

Unlocking the Mystery of the Universe

Paul's sermon on March 13th at New Life Glenside. His sermon focuses on John 17:20-26 and is titled "Unlocking the Mystery of the Universe."

Listen here.

Paul's Spring Series at Chelton - 3/20/16

Paul is leading a weekly Bible study series at his church, Chelten Baptist. This week's lesson is titled "Food Fight." Please feel free to use the participant's guide for this week's lesson.

Paul Sunday Evening at Chelten 3/20/16 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

Paul's Spring Series at Chelten - 3/13/16

Paul is leading a weekly Bible study series at his church, Chelten Baptist. This week and last week's lessons are on "Generosity and the J-Curve." Please feel free to use the participant's guide for this week and last week's lessons.

Paul Sunday evening at Chelten 3/13/16 from seeJesus on Vimeo.

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