Being a Praying Pastor

Pastor Tim Keller was recently interviewed by Leadership Journal about his approach to ministry and his new book Center Church.  Among several questions, this one stood out to me:

How would you describe your role in the pulpit?

When Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones died, his wife told people that her husband was first of all a man of prayer. Then, second, that he was an evangelist. Right now the jury’s out on whether I’m a man of prayer; only my wife will be able to tell you after I’m dead. I don’t know what she’d say right now, but that should be the first thing, because whatever else I am flows from that.

Second, I think I’m probably more of an evangelist than a teacher or pastor. So I would say that’s essentially my role, and I’m eager to keep that as long as I’m here in the city.

That first sentence in Keller’s response struck me hard: “her husband was first of all a man of prayer.”  Believing pastors follow the example of the apostles, I should have a twin focus of preaching and praying (Acts 6:4). But the sad reality is, I give far more attention to preaching, discipling, planning, and more than I give to praying.  Even sadder is that I know of few pastors who give such an emphasis to prayer.  While history is covered with such men–Luther, M’Cheyne, Spurgeon, Bounds–there seem to be fewer obvious examples today.

Yet, this short excerpt has been a bucket of Spirit-thrown, cold water on my soul. Given all that pastoral ministry is supposed to be, how can I not pray more?

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