By Pastor Mark Combs
P: Will you be diligent in your study of the Holy Scriptures and in your use of the means of grace? Will you pray for God’s people, nourish them with the Word and Holy Sacraments, and lead them by your own example in faithful service and holy living?
R: I will, and I ask God to help me.
P: Will you (the congregation) pray for him/her for his/her work’s sake, and in all things strive to live together in the peace and unity of Christ?
C: We will.
(from the order for Ordination in LBW Occasional Services)
I have been thinking quite a bit recently about these two statements that are used in the service for the ordination of a pastor. I know I made the first promise, and the gathered congregation, speaking for the whole church, made the second on November 14, 1998. These are two of the questions that are asked during the service for the Ordination of a Pastor, and I think they are very fundamental for us in the life of the church.
Prayer is something that we are all called to do. I know that is a shock to some people, but Jesus called us to be in relationship with God the Father by being engaged with the Father in prayer. There are a number of examples in the Bible – the parable in Luke 18 about being persistent in prayer, Jesus challenge tot he disciples to keep awake and pray in Matthew 26. My favorite is when Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11 – Jesus says, “When you pray . . . ” I hope that you noticed that he didn’t say, “If you pray,” but said, “When you pray.” Pray is not optional, and we have been called to do it.
I also know that it is sometimes hard to do. I know that there are times that I struggle with the right words. The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we have the right words. What matters is that we are involved in the conversation with God.
So thinking about prayer, I believe that it would be good for us if we were more intentional in our times of prayer. To that end, beginning on September 2, I will be in the Chapel on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. to say the office of Morning Prayer, and you are invited and encouraged to join me when you are available. I will be taking the church directory with me, and we will be praying for a portion of our church family each week. As we move forward, we will be working to have other leaders, so that hopefully we can also include the other days of the work week.
I believe that the benefits for us and our congregation will be without compare. I hope you can join me in the chapel, but if not, I am still confident that you will Join me in prayer. Don’t forget what it says in I Thessalonians 5, “16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NRSV)
Until next time,
See you in Church,