Principles For Effective Pastoral Ministry - 5

Title: Principles For Effective Pastoral Ministry - 5
Category: Pastoral Issues
Subject: Pastoral Ministry
Principles For Effective Pastoral Ministry - 5

Dr. Roger D. Willmore
Weaver, Alabama


In his book, A Passion For Prayer, Tom Elliff has a chapter entitled A Quiet Time A Quiet Place. The chapter opens with the searching question: "In your busy life do you have a quiet time and a quiet place where consistently day by day you spend time in prayer with the Lord?" This is a question we must answer for the answer reveals much about our ministerial effectiveness - or lack of effectiveness.

A number of years before Tom Elliff wrote A Passion For Prayer, he wrote another book entitled Praying For Others. On the cover of the book the publisher, Broadman Press, printed a personal word about the author, Tom Elliff. It reflects why Tom had power with God then - and now.

"Praying for others is a record of a prayer pilgrimage in our own time. With a growing conviction that he spent too little time in prayer, Tom Elliff determined to spend the morning hours in prayer. For a busy, outgoing pastor the first step was not easy."

"Requesting that his secretary hold his calls, Tom entered his study and closed the door behind him with some apprehension. The next step - actually talking with God - wasn't any easier. But what began with difficulty led to discoveries that God waits long and patiently for us to come to Him in prayer."

Those who know Tom Elliff know that he is a man mightily used by God. His testimony about his personal prayer pilgrimage is both inspiring and convicting.

Dr. Stephen Olford, founder of the Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching in Memphis, Tennessee also had a life changing encounter with God in his prayer pilgrimage. Today he stresses with great conviction that every Christian (and especially those in ministry) should have a personal daily quiet time.

Dr. Olford once remarked that he had discovered that in almost every case where there was a failure in the ministry it could be traced back to a breakdown in the discipline of the daily quiet time.

In the January - April, 1989 issue of The Preacher, (a publication of Olford Ministries International) pages 3-5, 7, 10 Dr. Olford had this printed message on quiet time. The following is the outline only.


Mark 1:35

A survey conducted some years ago by Christianity Today reveals that the average pastor prays only three minutes a day.

Another survey showed that 93% of students preparing for the ministry in a well known theological college confessed that they had no devotional life. My only comment here is that the curse of prayerless preachers is powerless pulpits and problem pews.

In Mark 1:35 we see Jesus rising up a great while before day and going to a solitary pray.

I. You must have a period for prayer in your daily program

1. A period for prayer must have priority.

2. A period for prayer must have prearrangement.

3. A period for prayer must have purposefulness

II. You must have a place for prayer in your daily program.

1. Prayer must have solitude.

2. Prayer must have silence.

3. Prayer must have sincerity.

Nothing can substitute for the daily quiet time. The example of our Lord Jesus Christ not only demonstrates it, but demands similar action from you and me. Jesus rose up a great while before day and went out into a solitary place to pray.

"This is the path the Master trod. Should not the servant trod it still?" Stephen F. Olford.

Warren Wiersby in his book entitled On Being A Servant Of God records the following insight into the life of Robert Murray McCheyne.

"On October 2, 1840, the young Presbyterian pastor Robert Murray McCheyne wrote this letter to his friend Daniel Edwards who was leaving for Germany to train for missionary service:

'My dear friend:

I trust you will have a pleasant and profitable time in Germany. I know you will apply hard to Germany; but do not forget the culture of the inner man - I mean of the heart. How diligently the calvary officer keeps his saber clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember, you are God's sword - His instrument - I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.' "

McCheyne's example of godly living gave great power to his unforgettable words: "A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God." p. 39-40.

Wierske's closing words to this segment of the book (p.44) deserve our attention.

"A holy life isn't the automatic consequence of reading the right books, listening to the right tapes, or attending the right meetings. It is the result of a living, loving union with Jesus Christ and a life marked by godly discipline. It means setting the alarm clock so we can begin the day with God and pray and meditate on the Word. It means following Paul's example of consecrational concentration and saying with him, 'One Thing I Do' (Phil. 3:12-14). Olympic winners pay a price, but they figure it is worth it. Do we?"

Time alone with God is a vital principle to effective pastoral ministry.