Letter 2 to Michael

Dear Michael:

I am so pleased to know that my last letter was well received.  I agree, it is better to be writing each other like this than via e-mail.  Writing a real letter encourages you to take more time with your thoughts.  It also seems more humane, somehow.

Indeed, it is amazing how much the life of a pastor and his flock are intertwined, once you start to think about it as we have.  Paul mentions his dependence on the prayers of others in 2 Corinthians 1:11.  And his dependence was very serious.  He was relying on the prayers of these people, not just for success in his work, but that he would literally survive.  He’s not hoping for a casual, “Lord, bless’im.”

It can be absurd sometimes how people are completely oblivious to the difficulties of pastoring – assuming the pastor is really caring about what he is doing and trying to do it well.  I remember a colleague once telling me that he thought “pastoring is hell.”  At the time,  I had to agree with him!  We were both in a couple of tough spots.  Of course, working with people is always difficult.  But pastors, by virtue of the character of their position, often have to put up with things other people wouldn’t fool with.  We can always pray for the Lord to give your pastor the loving patience he needs working with you all.

But the really key factor is the spiritual nature of the work.  Building the kingdom of Christ is warfare.  There is no advance unless the enemies within and without are faced and conquered.  Paul often uses military terminology to describe what we are about in taking the gospel to the world.  Success in this warfare is based on the power of God, and he brings that power to bear in answer to our prayers.  It was because Paul’s work was a real warfare that he was so deeply appeciative of the prayers of others for his work and for him personally.

It would be great for your pastor if he knew people were praying for him, in a deep way.  Morale is everything in warfare.  Two armies can be equal in strength, but the one with the best morale will win.  Your pastor is like his Lord in the sense that he is your captain, trying to lead the way and set the example for you.  His morale is critical for the morale of the whole church, so anything that can really encourage him would be good.

Prayer is part of the work he has to do, and he needs to know there are others sharing the load.  It would be wonderful for him to know there are people who really join with him when he’s broken-hearted, when a sudden need arises and he doesn’t know what to do, or when he stands in the pulpit to preach and it’s a struggle.  For him to know there is a cadre of people who are with him in serious, concerned, and fervent prayer for what God wants to do through him – that would be a huge thing for him.

It would also mean that you all would benefit more from his ministry.  When you take on his concerns and labours, and bring them to the throne side-by-side with him, that will open your hearts wider to what God wants to do in your lives through him.

Well, enough of that for now.  Ever your servant,


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