A Minister’s Vacation

“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone…”
(Matthew 14:23 ESV) 

This Sunday, following worship, the Sayler clan will be packing up and heading out to Colorado for some much needed vacation time together.  We’re looking forward to seeing family, celebrating Christi’s Grandmother’s 90th birthday, and enjoying the rarified air of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Now, I don’t equate myself to the Lord by any means, but I do try to learn from Him.  We see several times in Scripture that Jesus would go off to pray, sometimes with a few of his disciples, sometimes all alone.  If Jesus, who so perfectly communed with God as to never stray from His divine will, needed to take time to be strengthened in prayer, how much more do I, a sinner redeemed by the grace of God, need to find this time as well.

I plan to take a couple of books to read, my Bible and prayer journal – but I hope to leave work at work.  The past few months have been an exhausting whirlwind, and there have been some tough blows to deal with.  In these struggles I have found that I have too often been relying on my own strength, and not on the Lord, that needs to change.  This time away is more than just vacation, it is a time for spiritual renewal and drawing closer to the Lord who is my strength and my shield.

Last week I shared with you a prayer from the book, The Valley of Vision. This week, I share another, this one entitled A Minister’s Prayer.

O my Lord,
Let not my ministry be approved only by men,
     or merely win the esteem and affections of people;
But do the work of grace in their hearts,
     call in thy elect,
     seal and edify the regenerate ones,
     and command eternal blessings on their souls.
Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking;
Water the hearts of those who hear thy Word,
     that seed sown in weakness may be raised in power;
Cause me and those who hear me
     to behold thee here in the light of special faith,
     and hereafter in the blasé of endless glory;
Make my every sermon a means of grace to myself,
     and help me to experience the power of thy dying love,
           for thy blood is balm,
           thy presence bliss,
           thy smile heaven,
           thy cross the place where truth and mercy meet.
Look upon the doubts and discouragements of my ministry
      and keep me from self-importance;
I beg pardon for my many sins, omissions, infirmities,
     as a man, as a minister;
Command thy blessing on my weak, unworthy labours,
     and on the message of salvation given;
Stay with thy people,
     and may thy presence be their portion and mine.
When I preach to others
      let not my words be merely elegant and masterly,
      my reasoning polished and refined,
      my performance powerless and tasteless,
            but may I exalt thee and humble sinners.
O Lord of power and grace,
      all hearts are in thy hands,
      all events at thy disposal,
           set the seal of thy almighty will upon my ministry.


Longing for God

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”
(Psalm 42:1 ESV) 

When embraced with the goodness, the mercy, the gracious love of God, it is only natural to cry out in praise.  I just read in a devotion this morning, our theology must lead to doxology, the study of biblical doctrine is not an exercise in pointless intellectual speculation; rather, its end is to lead us to a greater knowledge and worship of the person and work of the Almighty. 

On the flip side, though, when presented with the glory of God, filled with a longing to worship Him in Spirit and truth, we are confronted by reality: we are sinners, and even with our best of ambitions, our worship before God is less than what it ought to be. 

This morning I came across the following prayer in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, that I wanted to share.  It is my prayer, may it be yours as well.

My God,
I feel it is heaven to please thee,
    and to be what thou wouldst have me be.
O that I were holy as thou art holy,
                         pure as Christ is pure,
                         perfect as thy Spirit is perfect!
These, I feel, are the best commands in thy Book,
     and shall I break them? must I break them?
     am I under such a necessity as long as I live here?
Woe, woe is me that I am a sinner,
                            that I grieve this blessed God,
                                 who is infinite in goodness and grace!
O, if he would punish me for my sins,
     it would not wound my heart so deep to offend him;
But though I sin continually,
     he continually repeats his kindness to me.
At times I feel I could bear any suffering,
     but how can I dishonor this glorious God?
What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings?
O that I could consecrate my soul and body to his service,
     without restraint, for ever!
O that I could give myself up to him,
     so as never more to attempt to be my own!
     or have any will or affections
          that are not perfectly conformed to his will and his love!
But, alas, I cannot live and not sin.
O may angels glorify him incessantly,
     and, if possible, prostrate themselves lower
          before the blessed King of heaven!
I long to bear a part with them in ceaseless praise;
But when I have done all I can to eternity
     I shall not be able to offer more than a small fraction of the homage
          that the glorious God deserves.
Give me a heart full of divine, heavenly love.