Some kind of prayer practice is essential for pastoral leaders. I firmly believe it, and I have done my best to put it into practice throughout my ministry. This is challenging work, and we need spiritual resources to sustain ourselves through the week and through the years.
That said, there are all kinds of ways to incorporate the practice of prayer into the life of ministry:
In the middle of the night
My friend and colleague Rev. Cindy Maybeck prays during the night. She’s always dealt with insomnia. She says this: “It gets rid of the pressure of how I’m going to find time to pray. For years, I fussed about the insomnia.” Now she sees it this way: “God wakes me up to talk to me.” She adds, “There’s never anything else scheduled at four in the morning.” Then she goes back to sleep.
In the morning
Cindy’s pattern of prayer wouldn’t work for me. I’ve always prayed first thing in the morning. I can’t do it in the evening, and I can’t do it in the middle of the night. I’m a morning person. Even in college I got up for breakfast. Morning has been my prayer time for 30 years.
In chunks of time
I had a mentor early in my ministry who didn’t have a daily prayer time. He would find a block of time at some point during the week for prayer. I know other colleagues who regularly take a day of retreat at a local retreat center or monastery.
If you don’t have a practice of prayer right now, how can you start small – as in really small? Here are five ideas:
1. One minute of meditation.
2. Pray for one member of your board every day.
3. Prayerfully read one verse of Scripture.
4. Pray while you walk from your car into the church. If you walk or bike to church, use that time to pray.
5. Take ten prayerful breaths when you wake up, in the middle of the day, or if you wake up in the night. (You could breathe in on “The Lord is my shepherd” and out on “I shall not want.”)
What’s your practice? Or, what do you want to try?