Christianity is a religion that revolves around the work and participation of its members. Jesus stressed this need as He taught such parables as the “talents” (Matt. 25:14-30) and the “sower” (Mark 4:3-9). Paul reaffirmed this teaching by referring to God’s people as those who are “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). James warned that trying to live a life of faith without works was emptiness and void (James 2:17, 26). Despite God’s continual reminder, He still addressed those who would try to follow Him and refuse to work (Prov. 21:25; 26:14). Solomon describes the field of a lazy man as being overgrown with thorns and the wall around it as broken (Prov. 24:30-31). What’s the point? We ought to be people who are busy!
Someone might respond, “Well, I have that covered!” We are all busy people, are we not? Little League, soccer practice, band concerts, football games, school projects, overtime, and many other things keep us busy from sun up to sun down, almost every day. Let us remember that in our schedule of things to do, God must capture first place and retain such a position. Sadly, some who claim to be people of God are described in Psalm 39:6. Here David penned, Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches and does nt know who will gather them” (Psa. 39:6; emp. mine, WJ).
How then do I keep from being busy in vain? How do I go about reorganizing my priorities so that I am busy with things that will matter on the Day of Judgment? One of the many answers to this question is to pray. Not that all of our time in each day will be consumed with prayer, but that faithful prayer (which will be accompanied with action by the petitioner) will keep us busy.
As we continue this study, let us consider some areas of our lives and some roles in the church that would be spurred to greater service if those who occupied those roles were diligent in their prayer life.
Prayer Will Keep Parents Busy
If it is our prayer that our children be faithful to the Lord and that they remain faithful to Him, even after they have left home, will we not forgo activities of a secular nature that conflict with the service and activities of the Lord’s church? If our prayer for our children is that their future mate be a New Testament Christian, will we not closely monitor whom they date? Sometimes this might even include forbidding them from dating certain people. Do we view prayer as a miracle cure in these situations, or do we realize that prayers of this fashion will keep us on our toes as parents, to be watchful and careful with our children?
It is true that our children should hear us pray for them by name every single day of their lives. They should know that mom and dad are far more concerned about their spiritual future than their physical future. However, if this is expressed in words of prayer, but then refuted in actions, our children are smart enough to see that. If it is our prayer that God be first in our lives, we should be busy carrying that out in our daily lives. Any other scenario would result in hypocrisy and spiritual peril.
Prayer Will Keep Preachers Busy
Prayer should play a valuable role in the life of any gospel preacher. The twelve who were commissioned to go preach the gospel were afraid of being swayed from that task with serving tables. So special servants were chosen to care for the neglected widows so that the apostles could give themselves “continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). Preachers of the Bible such as Peter, Paul, and Christ spent a portion (and sometimes a large portion) of each day in prayer. Sometimes they prayed before making an important decision (Mark 1:35). Sometimes they prayed at the end of a long day of work (Luke 5:16). Sometimes they prayed in the face of tremendous adversity (Luke 26:39). Sometimes they prayed with fellow workers (Acts 20:36). Sometimes they prayed in the midst of physical danger (Acts 27:29). Sometimes they prayed earnestly and intently that others might obey the gospel (Rom. 10:1). Sometimes they prayed at the grace of a dear friend (John 11:41). Sometimes they prayed in thanksgiving for their fellow workers in the Lord (Phil. 1:4). Sometimes they prayed that those converted would be strengthened and encouraged (Col. 1:9-11). Truly prayer has played a vital role in the lives of gospel preachers in the past, and it should be a vital part of life for current preachers as well.
What work would be done if every preacher prayed in the same situations and for the same reasons that men like Christ and Paul prayed! May we ever beg in prayer that we may boldly speak the things of God and that doors of opportunity may be opened (Eph. 6:18-20)!
Prayer Will Keep Elders Busy
Just as in the case of parents or preachers, a man serving as an elder should not have to find something to keep him busy. The task of an elder is impossible to accurately measure with words. Truly Paul called it a work (1 Tim. 3:1). Those who do not view it as such are doing the Lord’s church a serious and destructive injustice.
Remember that the work of an elder involves feeding, guarding, tending, and leading the sheep. As God arranged, the elders in a particular location are only responsible for the sheep of that congregation. Even so, being responsible for 50 to 500 souls is sometimes a daunting task. For this reason, God gave explicit and detailed qualifications that a man must meet before serving as an elder (1 Tim. 3:1ff). As you read through those qualifications in the future, ask yourself this question: Could a man possess these traits if he were not a man of daily, faithful prayer? The answer is undeniably, no! Elders are to be men of prayer.
In turn, those prayers will keep them busy in the work God has for them to do. Their minds and hearts will be more attuned to what the flock needs if they have prayed daily for those needs to be met. Their senses will be aware of danger posed to the flock by false teachers if they have prayed for wisdom to determine such. Their compassion for the flock will be evident if they have prayed for them with tears filling their eyes.
Certainly prayer will motivate all of us to be busier in the things that matter. Parents, preachers, and elders, may we utilize this tool and incorporate it in our daily routines.