In this quest to overcome discouragement, let’s begin on the first day of the week, the “biggest day” of the minister’s calling.
How do you begin your Sunday morning? Do you make sure you get a good night’s rest? Friend, sleep is good; it’s needful. Sunday requires much from you mentally, spiritually and physically. Don’t underestimate the rhythm that God has given your body. Also, make it a habit to pray with your wife before you drift off to sleep.
Do you get up early and have a designated time with the Lord in prayer and surrender to the Christ in you as you prepare to join Him in His work? S.D. Gordon said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray.” Also, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Let me add that if you have a family, it’s a blessing to hear them prayer in the car on the way to church. Now that my wife and I are enjoying the empty nest, she always leads in prayer on our way down the road to church. It’s so sweet to hold her hand and share together in preparation for the day through intercession before the Throne of God! When our girls were young, we would have prayer in the van in the church parking lot before entering the building. These were some very precious times, especially hearing a toddler pray!
Next, how about a time of prayer with others before the day of ministry begins. This could be an announced time set aside every Sunday morning to gather with the men, elders and deacons, church members, etc. Hearing others pray for you, calling out your name, can be a rich source of encouragement to you and your heart can be blessed as you pray for others, getting the focus off of yourself.
Have you noticed an emphasis here? How easy it is to “get in gear” and run 70 mph through a Sunday or any day because you have ministry to be done, people to see, etc. May I encourage you to soak your soul in Psalm 23 and let the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4) shepherd your soul throughout your Sunday? You need Christ to be all you need, to quiet you in His green pastures and still waters, to restore your soul and to lead you in His righteous paths (Psalm 23) throughout the day.
Perhaps one of the reasons we get discouraged is that we are so prone to think of ourselves as THE shepherd, THE pastor, THE man of God, and forget to surrender throughout the day to the CHIEF SHEPHERD Who dwells in us. He is the only One Who has the right to say, “I will build My Church” (Matthew 16:18).
Ministry friend, prayer is “the declaration of our dependence upon God” (Ken Collier). Read the Psalms, and you will see that when David was discouraged, he prayed and praised God. Please do not underestimate the need, the power, the fellowship, and the dependency of prayer!!
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34)
“A sermon steeped in prayer on the study floor, like Gideon’s fleece saturated with dew, will not lose its moisture between that and the pulpit. The first step towards doing anything in the pulpit as a thorough workman must be to kiss the feet of the Crucified, as a worshipper, in the study.” (Thomas Armitage)