So… I’ve been working on improving my prayer life.  Yes, I know that may sound weird for a pastor to honestly admit, but I think it’s probably true for most pastors.  Well, it’s true for me, so then it’s true.

I believe in prayer, I teach about prayer, I encourage others to pray, and I pray publicly.  A lot.  My call to ministry even has an osmosiatic effect (not sure that’s a real word…) but it seems to.  I often tell the story of when my mother first told her colleagues at the Catholic-run hospital in our hometown (St. Mary’s Hospital in Roswell, NM – God rest it’s beautiful institutional soul!) her boss promptly began to ask my mom to pray at the start of staff meetings.  Can I tell you how irritated she was at first with me?  She was.  A lot.

But, she got over her fears and frustrations and prayed.  More often than I would have ever believed.  Now I wish I had actually heard my mom pray.  What a gift that would have been, no matter how simple or how elegant it may have been.

Anywho… enough about my mom.  This is about prayer.  So, after one of my Continuing Education weeks at the City Of God Conference in Washington, D.C. I came home on fire to improve my personal spiritual life in order to help sustain me as a human being and as a pastor.  That’s when I began to pray every morning first thing when I wake up.  (That is, after I have made my first cup of coffee!)  I have not only found this routine to be helpful, but enjoyable.  Go figure.

Now, one of the places that still seems to be rough for me is the public prayer I do in the middle of the Sunday worship service.  It is alternatively called the Pastoral Prayer or the Prayer of the People.  Some churches call it the Intercessory Prayer Time.  I try different formats, in order to meet the needs of different parishioners, but have never really found my “groove” in this time period.  But on our recent trip to New York I came across a book, a resource, that really excites me in regard to public prayer in worship.

A former pastor of Riverside Church in NYC, Rev. Ernest T. Campbell, has put together a book of his pastoral prayers called “Where Cross The Crowded Ways: Prayers Of A City Pastor.”  Bing!  That’s it.  I bought the book and have been reading it and am deeply moved by both his intentionality about prayer and his approach to city life.  They were written in the late 1960’s and early 1970s, but they seem as relevant today as they clearly were then.  So… I hope they provide the same kind of deepening and broadening that my recommitment to daily prayer did for me several years ago.

You be the judge!  Seriously, let me know!

God’s Grace Is Abundant,