By: Rob Looper
January 7, 2016 7:45 AM
In the early 90s Lisa and I helped lead a Missions trip of high schoolers to London. We were serving in a working-class part of the city and staying in the rectory of an Anglican church whose pastor was Reformed and evangelical. It had been a busy week and we had seen some exciting things happen. It was exhausting, to be honest, and, alongside my initial jetlag I am sad to admit that I began to neglect my prayer time in favor of a little bit more sleep. I justified my lack of prayer time as a “special circumstance” and not a pattern. After all, what good would an exhausted chaperone be?
By the time of our first Sunday morning there I was sleeping as late as I possibly could. That particular Sunday morning I woke with a start and was immediately crabby. I began to rush around and help corral the nearly two-dozen teens for showers and breakfast in order to make it in time for church. Well, teens are teens—they were slow and some were practically dead to the world (a bit like me that morning); they used up the hot water and others couldn’t find their Sunday clothes. It was like herding cats—and my frustration level increased. As I ran around barking orders I the thought entered my mind that, at least on the Lord’s Day, I should have taken time to begin my day with prayer. But it was too late for that now.
I finally rushed back to the room that Lisa and I were blessed to have to ourselves to finally complete my own preparations—only I did not at all see the room as a blessing. In fact, the room had bedeviled me from day one because everything seemed to have been made for a child: it was half-sized. I had to duck my head to enter the room; I was forced to draw my legs up to sleep; the dresser and its mirror were more suitable for a hobbit than a human. So when I impatiently turned to the dresser to look into the mirror to tie my tie all I saw was me from my elbows down.
That was it—I had had enough. I audibly growled at the inconvenience that I was forced into as I dropped to my knees and shouted, “This is ridiculous! I have to kneel to see!”
As soon as those words left my mouth I finally saw my own face staring back at me—and I was completely rebuked. Of course I had to kneel to see! And I had failed to take time to kneel all week, on a trip that required just that kind of “inconvenience.” What I most needed that week was to stay refreshed and attuned to the Word and presence of God, to maintain a Godward perspective that allowed me to see through the eyes of Gospel grace. Then and only then could I truly see to the needs of the youth under my care—to be watchful over them.
I speak to my Christian brothers: If you and I would act like men and be watchful—we must first be men of prayer. Charles Spurgeon was asked what was the secret to his powerful preaching and pastoral ministry; his answer was, “Knee work! Knee work!”
Husbands—if we are not in regular, intentional prayer for our wives, for their daily needs and spiritual growth—then we are not being watchful over them, and we will not see that we are leaving them open to all manner of spiritual threats from our enemy.
Fathers—if we are not praying for our children, like Job did, praying for their own relationship with the Lord, for their own growth in knowledge and discernment of spiritual things and for their standing in faith in their world—then we will not see that we are leaving them unguarded and open to threat in that same world.
Men—not just elders and deacons—if we are not praying for McIlwain to be strong in the Lord, to grow in maturity and faith and to be a mighty witness for the Gospel and an oasis of God’s grace in Pensacola—then we are spiritually AWOL; we are not at our posts, staying awake, keeping our eyes open to be prepared for the spiritual threats that our enemy throws our way to discourage, distract and divide us.
If we would act like men, then we must be committed to being watchful in prayer—over our homes, over this church—and yes, over our community and over our nation. So we must get on our knees and fight.