As many of you know, I have been meeting with the various pastors in our district for the last several weeks. There are over 150 of them with whom to meet so it takes a while. I have asked questions and I have been asked questions. The subject of my next 4 articles will be a few of the questions I’ve been asked. I hope that these articles are conversational: they are personal in many ways, but they also address questions I suspect lots of us have about each other and about the Church in general.
This first article is about my prayer life and what I mean when I say, “I pray for you.”
I am glad that people asked me to pray for them and that a few adventurous souls asked me what I pray for when I pray for them and what I do for my own devotional life. (These questions came when I asked folks, “What can I do to help you?”)
When I was a child I read a lot and, because the librarians at our local public library knew my mom who was a school librarian, they didn’t pay much attention to the books I checked out (so far as I know). That meant that I checked out a lot of things my mother would never have allowed me to bring home (let alone read). One time I checked out a book because of the picture on the cover and read about a preacher who was a scoundrel (sort of a forerunner for 50 Shades). BUT, the scoundrel preacher, who was an active guy, was eventually confronted by his seminary classmate, a very sincere devout man. And, in the language of that poor book, “The two holy men looked at each other and both were too embarrassed to pray.”
I didn’t get everything in that book but I do remember thinking that it was sad that two preachers, scoundrels or truly righteous or each a mix of both, didn’t know how to pray. I remember asking God, on the night of my ordination to help me always pray. So, when I say, I pray for you, it means this:
- I pray regularly for the pastors, pastoral households, and churches in our district. I average praying for about 5 of you each a day. I pray with as much specificity as I can have about the details of each one’s life. I always pray for health, joy, laughter, unity, and vital outreach/growth.
- I pray the Wesleyan Covenant prayer each day. Because it’s the one I learned, I use the 18th century
version. I confess that when I pray it, I hope that God will not “put me to suffering” or bring me “low,” but I do ask God to help me pray it sincerely. I pray this because I try to be at God’s disposal and
available to God’s people. I use the prayer in the mornings because it sets what I hope is a “right spirit” in me for the day.
- I pray throughout the day, what Ignatius called “breath prayers”, silent brief prayers, generally
- I use a brief daily devotional each evening.
- When the Cabinet meets Bishop Hope asks one DS to pray by name for each pastor and each church in her/his district.
I did ask most of the folks who asked me about my prayer and devotional life why they were curious. Everyone was too polite to say that they wondered if I had one. Instead, they said that were trying to grow their own spiritual practices and were curious about mine.
The painful truth is that I have to work to maintain the schedule I just described and surveys say that many clergy and church leaders work to maintain their own spirituality.
It’s because of the fact that our service and our joy and our effectiveness come out of our spirituality that I wanted to share my spiritual practice with you. Sharing it makes me accountable to you so I invite you to ask me about how I am doing at it. I’d invite you to share your practices with someone for the same reason and/or to develop your own.
I will pray for you.
NEXT WEEK: How do I spend my time and how do I decide how to use it?
If you would like to print or share this edition of Hello from Harvey,
you are encouraged to use this pdf:
Hello from Harvey – QUESTIONS [HARVEY] HAS BEEN ASKED RECENTLY – PART 1
If you would like to view past editions of Hello from Harvey, follow this link: