I was probably 17 years old when I was invited into my high school guidance counselor’s office one day. The purpose of the meeting was to talk about preparation for college. He asked the question I was expecting: “What career do you have in mind for yourself?”
What I was not planning on was my own response. I had avoided it up to that point, though several relatives had more than once suggested it to me. I was planning on becoming a teacher. But what came out of my mouth were the words, “I’m going to seminary.”
It was more a revelation to me than to my guidance counselor, I believe. And since that day, despite momentary doubts about that decision, I have not wavered from the conclusion that pastoral ministry is what God put me on this earth to do.
“More will be accomplished through your prayers than you can even imagine.”
Since that day I have been prayed for more than I will ever know. I was prayed (I now believe) into seminary. I was prayed through seminary. I was prayed through oral comps (the gauntlet of tests and interviews you must pass to exit seminary as a candidate for ministry of the Word). I was prayed through the initial calling process. I was prayed through the classical exam (which in my day took all of six or more hours!). And I have been prayed through 39 years of parish ministry and up to this very day.
A host of prayer warriors have offered those prayers, only some of whom I even know or know about. Many surfaced recently, indicating their prayers for me as I take on this new role as interim executive director for the Christian Reformed Church.
All of the above prompted me to “enlist,” if I can, even more in the army of pray-ers. Today, I ask you to join with me in prayer for the many facets of seminary life, some of which this issue of The Banner highlights.
Although those for whom you pray may never know it, and though you may never know the results of your prayers, trust me—more will be accomplished through your prayers than you can even imagine.
I ask you to pray first for the Spirit of God to work in the hearts and lives of people throughout our denomination to enter into ministry. Ask that in still, small ways, the Spirit will blow when and as the Spirit wills, to enter hearts and lives and move individuals toward the ministry of the Word.
And then pray for the staff and administration of our seminary. Ask that God will grant them strength and health and insight into issues facing today’s ministers, along with the opportunity and ability to impart helpful guidance to tomorrow’s pastors. While you may not know for whom you pray, God does. And God answers.
Pray also for the curriculum of the seminary. Ask that God will guide the staff and board to establish a curriculum (and constantly review and maybe even revise it) that will help students become the servants of God to today’s people, addressing today’s needs and pointing today’s world toward its only hope.
Pray for the students of the seminary. There are those for whom seminary is an enormous financial and personal challenge. There are those trying to balance study, work, and family responsibilities. There are those for whom course work is more difficult than for others. There are those struggling with physical issues, emotional issues, and spiritual issues. Pray that God will lead unmistakably, even when the path is obscure and the way clouded.
And while you are praying, pray also for the candidates who are available right now to the churches. Pray for calls and for confirmation of God’s leading. Pray for churches seeking candidates and for churches awaiting word. Pray for all who “wait on the Lord” in these and other ways.
We have a legion of warriors whose knees and hearts can be available to God on behalf of the entire ministry enterprise. I know: I was prayed into ministry, and I am being prayed through it. Please join me in praying for all involved in ministry throughout the future God grants us.