Dr. Craig Kraft
/Tuesday, November 30, 2021
If you are like me, you probably get asked to pray for many people or things in any given week.
I find it easy to tell people I will pray for them, but sometimes I don't know how to pray. I find myself calling out their name to God and asking for His divine wisdom and care. Paul writes, "For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Romans 8:26 ESV).
Praying for Your Church
One of the things that should be on all our prayer lists right now is our church. Pastors, elders, and various leaders and ministries have had a challenging time as we live through a global pandemic. The big pivot has come with a substantial price tag for our churches.
- Most have felt a new pressure to compete with all the virtual options that are available today.
- Every pastor I speak with shares deep concern for the people they have lost contact with over the past eighteen months.
- Some leaders have extended work commitments and terms of service during the pandemic to avoid untimely leadership transitions.
- Many pastors have experienced significant stress as they try to connect with people in new ways or learn how to adapt to a high-tech virtual ministry environment.
Our leaders are exhausted.
Today things are starting to turn a corner in Canada, and churches have begun to meet again. Sunday School classes are back, the nursery is open, and small group ministries meet again in people's homes.
We are falling back into some of our familiar worship patterns, and it feels refreshing. Still, we are also trying to maintain our virtual presence and reach those uncomfortable coming back to public services.
Our workload and ministry expectations are increasing exponentially. There is a backlog of weddings, funerals, and other postponed sacred events. As a result, we are witnessing an increased need for pastoral care in our congregations.
5 Prayer Requests for Your Church
There are many things that we can be praying for in our churches, but here is a list of five critical places to start:
Most of our pastors are tired and weary.
Has your pastor had a vacation since the pandemic started? Have they had opportunities to connect with family and with God in significant and meaningful ways? Have they been able to recharge their batteries?
Pray for your pastors and their families.
Pray that new joys and hope for the future will overcome the stress and strains of pandemic ministry. Pray that they will find rest, and advocate for them to rest or vacation if they need it.
2. Elders / Leaders
Our leaders have continued to serve through the pandemic. The church's business continued even when the doors were closed to public gatherings.
Like our pastors, they get tired as they carry the stress of paying the bills, keeping the building in good shape, staying connected with the congregation and other leaders. They have often been putting in extra volunteer hours behind the scenes to keep things going. Worship teams have had the added challenge of learning how to lead worship virtually. Tech teams are pushed to the limit, often spending countless hours learning and preparing for things that are invisible to most of us.
Our leaders and volunteer teams have been true heroes. We should pray for their families who have made significant sacrifices of their time. We need to pray that God will raise more workers to help lighten the load. We should pray and ask the Lord how we may serve or encourage those who have carried the heavy load.
Pray for discernment as we seek to understand the times. We can do many things now, but we need wisdom and discernment to know what we should do.
This means starting small and not trying to take on too much too soon. It is a good time for us to think about what is most important and most fruitful.
The book of 1 Chronicles commends the men from Issachar who "understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chron. 12:32). We have an opportunity right now to study our culture and community and think strategically about how we re-engage in public ministry. We may find more fruitful ways of engaging with our neighborhoods in a post-pandemic society.
Pray that our leaders will have the time to observe, listen, and learn about what is going on in our nation, cities, and neighborhoods. Pray that we will have the wisdom, creativity, and courage to respond in biblically appropriate and contextually relevant ways.
Perhaps this should have been the first item for prayer.
It must break the Lord's heart to watch the church, his bride, fighting and struggling over things like vaccines, vaccine passports, mask-wearing, etc. And yet, that is what we are doing. We are allowing the things we observe in politics and the media to influence how we behave with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I understand the deep divide and solid opinions for and against masks and vaccines, but I don't think it is worthy of the attention it is taking in our churches.
We are watching families, congregations, and even denominations divide over things that have nothing to do with salvation or making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Please join me in praying for unity in the church. Pray that the Holy Spirit will unite our hearts around what is essential and that we will do what is right for the church and for the kingdom of God.
5. Your Own Attitude
I am convinced that we are all grieving right now. We have all experienced loss during the pandemic. We may have lost friends or family members without a regular process to grieve and say goodbye. Some of us have lost jobs, lost income, lost security. Many of us are grieving over the loss of how things used to be; we want things to go back to "normal."
As we experience grief and loss, it is easy to become angry or bitter about things that have changed.
Change can be very challenging within the context of the church. For most of us, things will not go back to the way they used to be. Just as 9-11 had a profound and lasting impact on our world, the COVID 19 pandemic has changed our world, and things will never be the same.
I don't have any power or control over how other people think, feel, or act, but I do control myself.
I am praying every day that God will give me a positive attitude.
I pray that God will help me love and accept others who think or act differently from me.
I am praying that God will give me a joyful heart about my church and the changes we can make to be who He wants us to be.
Will you join me? We are the church. If we have an unsavory attitude, we tarnish the image of Christ in His body, the church.
Will you pray for your church and pray for yourself? Pray that God will help you to be the most Christ-like version of yourself.
Dr. Craig Kraft is the Executive Director of Outreach Canada. After 15 years of pastoral ministry in western Canada, Craig, with his wife Heather, served with OC in southern Africa before returning to lead the ministry in Canada. Craig is a graduate of Northwest Baptist Seminary at ACTS and a graduate of Asia Graduate School of Theology with a Doctor of Intercultural Studies. His study has focused on diaspora missiology in Canada. His dissertation explores the potential for revitalizing Canadian churches through the practice of biblical hospitality with refugees and immigrants. Craig loves to watch sports, work in the yard & spend time in the woods.