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Thursday, September 16, 2010 

When Did We Stop Praying For Pastors?

If anyone noticed in my last post that the prayer for pastors seemed a little bit old school in the language department, then rejoice in your winning of a coveted POTF no-prize. I’ll be sending out the POTF no-prizes as soon as everyone who has won the award gives me a call and leaves me their address. I trust everyone to be honest and claim the no-prize only if you actually have won the award.

The occasion for my post was my own pastor’s tenth anniversary as pastor of our small town parish down here in the haut south just last Sunday. I couldn’t ever thank my pastor enough for being a faithful servant of the Word even if I tried really, really hard. It just isn’t possible as I’ve tried time and time again. I always seem fall short.

Being a pastor is often a thankless job that a goodly number of people take for granted while at the same time expecting him to be there every time their children go into the hospital to get their tonsils yanked out, we lose our jobs, or have to bury our family members or beloved pets We ask more of our pastors sometimes than we should and thank then all too infrequently for their efforts if ever. We demand their undivided attention and politely thank them for attending yet one more of the twenty-five plus boards that we “request” that they attend while ignoring how little time we afford the to be with their own families. Sometimes I think we make work for our pastors because we take the joke of the only working one day a week entirely too seriously. What we should be doing instead is making it as easy as possible for them teach and prepare for the right preaching and teaching of God’s Word in the Divine Service as this is (or at least should be) their primary calling. I wish more folks remembered that. I wish I remembered that more often than I do.

While we sometimes butt heads on trivial matters, my pastor and I are of one mind on what it means to be confessional, Lutheran, and Christian. I thought this was as good as time as any to post something to publicly thank him for being my pastor; for week after week putting the words of Jesus in my ears and the Body and Blood, the medicine of immortality, in my mouth. I wanted to thank him and I just couldn’t find the words. Everything I tried to write just fell short, again.

Nor was it possible to thank my pastor’s immediate predecessor, an interim pastor who I loved as if he were a member of my own family, who had to deal with me as an enthusiast, a former atheist who thought he knew it all when he knew nothing. Words once again failed me, again.

So…

I decided to open up my hymnal and post a prayer from the Lutheran Service Book, the official hymnal of our beloved Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there are NO prayers for our pastors in the prayers and intercessions section of the hymnal! What the heck?! There are prayers for an increase of holy ministry and a generic prayer for church workers but there are none for our faithful and steadfast pastors who serve the Christ’s Church week after week as they are called to do.

So, when was the last time a prayer for our faithful pastors was included in our hymnal? Well, depends on which hymnal you look at to answer the question. The Lutheran Hymnal had not one but three prayers for our pastors. The Lutheran Book of Worship which the LC-MS was involved in formulating, but ultimately didn’t endorse (although they were more than happy to accept royalties form the sales, go figure…), had dropped the number of prayers down to one for our pastors. When Lutheran Worship came out in 1982 the prayers for our pastors were gone completely and did not return when Lutheran Service Book was adopted in 2004.

At first I thought that maybe the prayers for our pastors were put in the agenda but a quick call to our secretary confirmed that this wasn’t the case either. As it turns out, The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941 was the last hymnal endorsed by our beloved synod that included a prayer for an office instituted by Christ Himself. That is a very sad commentary on how we view and care for our pastors.

It is depressing that there are hymns like "On Eagles Wings” (whose sole reason for being included in the Lutheran Service Book has to be so that unionistic/syncretistic scout cults can sing something out of our hymnal during their award ceremonies so as to feign orthodoxy and gain acceptance within the Christian worldview) which waste an entire page in our hymnal while a simple prayer for those who are charged with taking care of and feeding Christ's sheep can’t be squeezed in. This is nothing less than disappointing!

I think that the Lutheran Service Book is far superior hymnal than Lutheran Worship or even The Lutheran hymnal. I just think it is a darned shame that we think so little of our pastors as to not bother to include a simple prayer thanking God for their faithful work

As a service to everyone who does not has copy of The Lutheran Hymnal, here are the three prayers for our pastors that can be printed out and snuck into your Lutheran Service Book. And next time you pray for Christ’s Church, include one of the prayers below to thank the Lord for your faithful pastor.

Almighty and everlasting God, who alone doest great wonders, send down upon Thy ministers and upon the congregations committed to their charge the healthy Spirit of Thy grace; and that they may truly please Thee, pour upon them the continual dew of Thy blessing,; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.

Almighty and gracious God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast commanded us to pray that thou wouldest send forth laborers into Thy harvest, of Thy infinite mercy give us true teachers and ministers of Thy Word, and put Thy saving Gospel in their hearts and on their lips that they may truly fulfill Thy command and preach nothing contrary to Thy holy Word, that we, being warned, instructed, nurtured, comforted, and strengthened by Thy heavenly Word, may do those things which are well pleasing to Thee and profitable to us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord.

O almighty God, who by Thy Son, Jesus Christ, didst give to Thy holy Apostles many excellent gifts and commandedst them earnestly to feed Thy flock, make, we beseech Thee, all pastors diligently to preach Thy holy Word and the people obediently to follow the same that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord

Oh, one more thing… boy howdy this is just ripe with irony… when you go to church this Sunday, stop by your church’s office and ask to see the mailing that from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Commission on Ministerial Growth & Support reminding us that October is Clergy Appreciation Month and highlighting October 17th as Clergy Appreciation Sunday. From the mailing:

"We ask you brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their word ..." (1st Thessalonians 5:12-13)

The mailing includes a list of "simple acts that feed a shepherd" a primer I’m told on what we are supposed to do to take care a pastor. The first item on the list is "Pray for your pastor. Ask God to shower your pastor with an abundance of love, hope, and joy, as he pursues the activities of ministry for you and your family."

I couldn’t agree more. I just wish someone on the Commission on Worship thought the issue was important enough to throw us a scrap of a prayer when putting out the Lutheran Service Book.

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Yes, please, pray for your pastors. (I'm a little biased in my opinion on this one, but it is important.)

I couldn't agree more on the need to pray for pastors. Surprised it's not in the hymnal, but yet not. Jeff and I pray for our pastor every day -- we don't need a prewritten prayer though -- I don't pray those anyway unless of course the pre-written words are scripture, those I do pray. And yes, next month is pastor appreciation month. Most pastors are too modest to allow that to be posted anywhere, BUT we need to remind others to thank their shepherds and help feed them as well.

Deanna, I hope you didn’t misconstrue anything I wrote so as to think that I believe we need prayers in hymnals to pray for pastors because that is not what I believe or practice. I think that such an oversight shows a lack of respect for our pastors and gives a glimpse into how poorly we actually care for those men who are rightly called to preach and administer Christ’s gifts through the Sacraments.
Once we started down the everybody is a minister road and/or started treating our pastors as hired staff, forgetting to include prayers in our hymnals for pastors when we list prayers for everybody and his brother and every occasion imaginable was inevitable.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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