Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Prayer for Ministers

Here is another poem by John Newton concerning the pastorate. It was included in the Olney Hymns- pretty good accountability for pastors to sing this song with their congregations! I came across this poem in Worthy is the Lamb: Puritan Poetry in Honor of the Savior (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004). May it encourage and challenge you as it has me.

"Prayer for Ministers"

Chief Shepherd of thy chosen sheep,
From death and sin set free;
May every under–shepherd keep
His eye, intent on thee!

With plenteous grace their hearts prepare,
To execute thy will
Compassion, patience, love and care,
And faithfulness and skill

Inflame their minds with holy zeal
Their flocks to feed and teach;
And let them live, and let them feel
The sacred truths they preach.

Oh, never let the sheep complain
That toys, which fools amuse;
Ambition, pleasure, praise or gain,
Debase the shepherd’s views.

He, that for these, forbears to feed
The souls whom JESUS loves;
Whate’er he may profess, or plead,
An idle shepherd proves.

The sword of God shall break his arm,
A blast shall blind his eye
His word shall have no pow’r to warm,
His gifts shall all grow dry.

O LORD, avert this heavy woe,
Let all thy shepherds say!
And grace, and strength, on each bestow,
To labor while ’tis day.

- John Newton

2 comments:

Steve B. said...

Ray,

I had planned as part of my "pastor's report" tonight, at our monthly members meeting, to encourage the church to continue to pray for me and other pastors (as well as other ministry leaders), and then I read your blog, so I thank God for you highlighting Newton's poem.

One particular area that I believe is not often enough a matter of prayer in the church is the pastor's care and love for his family. There has been much talk about Calvinism and the local church on the blogosphere recently, and we do need to pray that the doctrines of grace and a biblical polity are recovered in our pulpits and churches, but do we love the truth of sovereign grace or a plurality of elders or a "perfect constitution" or a "crisp" membership more than we love our wives and children? Could it be that a look at our lives would find hearts aflame for Matthew 18:15-17 and Ephesians 1 and Romans 9 and First Corinthians 5, but only lukewarm hearts concerning our love for our families? Oh how we need prayer! Thanks for stirring up these thoughts within me, and I would appreciate future posts concerning the pastor and his family.

Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks, Steve.
Indeed we must be careful not to disembody truth so that it is something that can be loved while not lived. It is possible in excitement about recovery of substantive truth to get lost in some abstractions. I alluded to this a bit in one earlier post but in a more general way (http://rvanneste.blogspot.com/2005/10/oversight-of-ourselves.html). Vodie Baucham hits this point hard and well in the messages I referred to previously (http://rvanneste.blogspot.com/2005/10/vodie-baucham-on-church-and-family.html).
I will hope to speak this more directly soon. Thanks for the suggestion and reminder to all of us.