My friend Sam pointed me in the direction of one of my ancient blog posts about the phrase “the ministry of the word and prayer” the other day, and it got me thinking. My nagging conscience is quick to remind me of the importance of praying whilst preparing to lead Bible studies or whilst writing talks I’m going to deliver, but I often think of that purely in terms of praying for God’s help in my preparation itself. “Please God, help me to concentrate whilst I write this.” “Please God, help me to properly understand this passage.” “Please God, give me some good ideas for illustrations.”
The helpful phrase “the ministry of the word and prayer” reminds me that prayer is an essential part of the ministry itself. I don’t just pray so that my word ministry will go well; rather I do the twofold ministry of teaching the word and praying for those I teach it to. Ultimately it is God’s ministry that he has graciously invited us to be a part of, and so it’s natural for us to pray to him, asking him to be at work in people’s hearts and minds; it’s only then that we get on with using the tool he has given us for the job: his living and active word, the Bible.