Acts 20:36-38: Paul, the praying leader.
“36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.”NIV UK
This is a touching scene, I’m sure you will agree (see also 21:5). Parting is ‘such sweet sorrow.’ Everyone who has had to say a major ‘good-bye’ will feel both the love and pain radiating from the page. They won’t just read it. However, I do believe that when a ‘good-bye’ is in the will of God, it is a good bye and not a bad one. It may not feel it at the time, but one day you will probably see it. At least, you may well live to see something of the good God brings out of it.
We’ve spent considerable time listening to Paul’s farewell speech to the Ephesians elders. Before moving on, here are three challenges for local church leaders:
- Leader, do your people know that you ‘kneel’? I don’t mean, ‘Are you a spiritual show off?’ ‘Are you ostentatious about your spirituality?’ My simple question is, ‘Do you walk with God?’ If you do, it will seep out in various ways. You won’t be able to hide it. It is vital that local church leaders should set a prayerful example;
- Leader, do you kneel ‘with’ your people? When they gather to pray, are you there with them as often as you can be? Speaking at the ‘Elim Leaders’ Summit’ in Harrogate, James Aladrian, who leads ‘Prayer Storm’ – a Manchester-based prayer ministry – said to the men and women gathered there, ‘You can’t out-source prayer; you can’t appoint someone to your team and pay them to do your praying for you.’ Indeed you can’t. Don’t even think about it pastor;
- Leader, do you love your people? And do they know that you love them?
PRAYER: Lord please will you pour out the Spirit of prayer upon your church, including the leaders! May they learn to love the secret place more than they do the spotlight. May they understand just how much can be achieved when hidden away from men, and down on their knees. Oh Lord, may they really get this – for the glory of your Name, and for the good of the church.