A Prayer of the Teacher of a Congregation

Praying HandsLord Jesus Christ, Shepherd of souls, You are highly to be praised! How could I praise you for the inestimable grace and love you have shown me, a poor sinner. You have not only made me a member of Your church and congregation, but You have also installed me in the noble and precious work as Your servant in the wonderful office of the Gospel and as a steward of God’s mysteries. What could be more wonderful than to be saved by pure grace and then proclaim salvation to others—salvation, which You, O Lord Jesus, have purchased for poor sinners?

But though my office is great and wonderful, it also comes with responsibility. It requires a true shepherd’s mind, which is concerned with Your glory and the eternal good of souls purchased at a great price. I do not have such a mind of myself, and no effort of mine will be able to produce it; I need to receive it from You, O Jesus. You need to clothe me with power from on high. You need to equip me with the characteristics required for my calling. Lord Jesus, give me therefore what I need for my noble office.

O grant me both love and faithfulness, humility and strength, wisdom and understanding, endurance and patience. Pour out your love into my empty and cold heart in order that I may be able to love You again and to show Your love by caring for Your sheep and lambs, which You, Lord Jesus, have preciously ransomed. Grant that I show faithfulness in this task by feeding Your flock according to Your will with the word of eternal life and by looking
after it, not for shameful gain but out of love for You. And when danger approaches in the form of false and misleading doctrines, grant that I be alert and gird Your congregation with the protective belt of godly truth.

But in all this, preserve in me a humble mind, which seeks in all things only Your glory and the advance of Your kingdom. Always remind me that without You I am “an unworthy servant”, who know and understands nothing. Give me a deeper sense of my spiritual poverty and the great misery of my sin. Help me also to show humility in my outward relations with my neighbours, not taking the part of a lord but that of a servant. But grant that there is also strength in my humility, that I am always mindful that I am in Your presence and about Your business. If, therefore, I need to present truths which are not so pleasant to speak or to hear, let not embarrassment or the fear of people tie my tongue. Rather, give me the grace in Christian humility to speak as Your servant what You want to be spoken through me, so that I wouldn’t be “a mute dog on the walls of Zion” (Isa. 56:10), but a fearless witness of the truth who  proclaims all your truths without regard for persons, be those truths punishing or comforting. Grant that I always remember that I am a watchman on the walls of Zion and that, therefore, my responsibility is to proclaim equally publicly that the godless must die on account of his sins and that the repentant may live on account of your merit. In short: give me grace to preach in accordance with Your will repentance towards God and faith in You, O highly praised Lord Jesus Christ. Grant me also wisdom and understanding to present your truths in the right manner in love, that I would not diminish their good effects and power with foolish zeal. Lord Jesus, allow the Christian “innocence of the dove” be united in the most excellent way with the Christian “wisdom of the serpent” (Matt. 10:16), so that I would not harm but advance the matter that I want to defend. Besides which, give me endurance and patience, that I do not become downcast by opposition, angered by persecution, or worn out by sorrow. If I do not get to see the fruit of my work immediately, grant that I nevertheless endure; the time of fruits,too, will come for me. Even if I am to sow the precious seed in tears, I will one day reap with joy (Ps. 126:5). Help me. Lord Jesus, to be diligent and tireless until then, because in You my work is never in vain. Grant me grace that I take up every opportunities in which to sow the seed of Your holy word. And if I sometimes tire, which happens easily enough, then come and give strength to the weary and sufficient power to the powerless. When I am sorrowful, gladden me, O Jesus, with Your love. When the world gives me angry looks, refresh me with Your friendly countenance. Spare me, O Jesus, from the wearisome burden of livelihood. “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is  needful for me” (Prov. 30:8). Protect me from the spirit of greed and all other sins, and grant that by your grace I may bring my life and conversation to perfect harmony with the doctrine I preach. And at the last, O Jesus, grant to Your wearied servant at the end of his life a place in heaven among Your elect ones. Crown me at Your coming with the imperishable crown of glory for Your own sake. Hear, Lord Jesus, the prayer of your unworthy servant for the sake of Your grace and Your promise. Amen.

From Johannes Bäck, A Sojourner’s Home Life. Translated from the 1947 Finnish edition.

Translation: Creative Commons License
This work by Tapani Simojoki is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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