God bids us to come and pray. Actually, He invites us, which is so much sweeter. In any and every circumstance, whether we are happy or mad or have so many mixed emotions we cannot even begin to sort them out, He still invites us. By far the most difficult prayer to pray is the one that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane—“not my will, but Yours be done.” We are terrible at the submission of the will. We never grow out of our toddler-selves insisting that things be done our way or else we’ll have a complete and utter meltdown. We might have graduated from the actions of throwing ourselves on the floor while kicking and screaming, but our attitudes have not matured at all.
Recently, when our congregation first learned that our pastor had received a call to another congregation, the reaction was pretty typical—some were open to God’s calling of our pastor wherever that would be and some were indignant, saying that he must stay because we love him and he’s our pastor.
Our pastor communicated that the best thing the congregation could do was pray. I heard a couple comments immediately: “I’ll just pray he stays” and “I don’t even know what to pray.” And because I’ve walked through the call process many times and from many different perspectives—as a pastor’s kid, as a church worker myself, as a call committee member and as a member of a congregation—I knew we all might need some help to pray “not my will, but Yours be done, God.”
I still remember the first time I learned what a call was. I was in elementary school and one of our teachers had a call to another school. They announced it in worship and I asked my parents later what that meant. They told me that we needed to pray for the teacher to serve where God would have them serve. Being part of a large congregation and school with about 22 called church workers—both commissioned and ordained—that process became familiar to me. And so did that prayer.
I’m still not always good at it. Submission of my will to God’s will is still hard when it comes to people we’ve grown to love. So I decided to write a prayer guide to guide the congregation in praying for our pastor. And to guide myself too.
God’s will for our pastor and our congregation was that our pastor would accept His call to another congregation and complete his tenure of service to us. Our staff and leadership decided to keep providing prayer prompts for our people. Deb Fall, our Worship Director, said, “We prayed for our pastor to come; we should pray for him as he leaves.” Our congregation Chairman, Andy Biegner, shared the sentiment by saying, “Let’s love our pastor out the door.” So, these three additional guides were drafted to continue guiding our prayers.
[The Thanksgiving and Praise prayer guides can be utilized by congregations anytime they’d like to focus their prayers on giving thanks for their pastor. The Blessing prayer guide is specifically for after a pastor has announced he is taking another call.]
In the mingled mix of emotions that come with a pastor deliberating and accepting a call to serve elsewhere, may we always pray “God’s will be done.” And when we’re left feeling like we don’t know what to pray, may the Holy Spirit intercede for us. Soli Deo Gloria.
*All guides are written by Kimber Walsh, Director of Family Life Ministry, and free for congregational download and use only.
Photo (c) Prixel Creative/Lightstock