Intercessory Prayer: A Ministerial Task -- By: Eugene Bradford
WTJ 22:1 (Nov 59) p. 13
Intercessory Prayer: A Ministerial Task*
[* The substance of this article was delivered in the form of addresses to the students of Westminster Theological Seminary on January 29, 1959.]
THE Form of Church Government adopted by the Westminster Assembly in 1645 lists eight duties which belong to the office of Pastors. It is not without significance that the first of these duties mentioned is prayer:
First, it belongs to his office, to pray for and with his flock, as the mouth of the people unto God, Acts vi.2, 3, 4 and xx.36, where preaching and prayer are joined as several parts of the same office. The office of the elder (that is, the pastor) is to pray for the sick, even in private, to which a blessing is especially promised; much more therefore ought he to perform this in the public execution of his office, as a part thereof.
That this duty extends beyond mere formal, stated prayers is evident from the fact that, at the service of ordination, the presiding minister is required “in the face of the congregation, [to] demand of him who is now to be ordained, concerning … his diligence in praying, reading, meditation, preaching, ministering the sacraments, discipline, and doing all ministerial duties toward his charge”.
It is regrettable that this element of ministerial duty does not receive the same emphasis in Church Orders and in Ordination Forms in use by the churches today. For example, the Directory for Worship of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church states simply that the duties of the minister of Christ include “the offering of prayer to the Lord on behalf of the congregation” (VI, A, 2). And the Form for Ordination of Ministers used in the Christian Reformed Church refers to the pastoral labors of the minister as the “proclamation of the gospel, accompanied with prayer and the administration of the holy sacraments”, while the Church Order states that “the office of the minister is to continue in prayer and in the ministry of the Word” (Article 16).
WTJ 22:1 (Nov 59) p. 14
More regrettable still is the almost total lack of attention to the subject of the minister’s prayers in current discussion of the sacred office. Books and articles are written on the techniques of preaching, church administration, and counselling, but the banal comments on the pastoral activity in prayer serve only to point up how little importance is generally attached to this function. The standard works on Liturgics and Pastoral Theology give normal attention to public prayer, but virtu...
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