What is the role of prayer and meditation in the practice of ministry?
I have worked on that question for many years. It became focused as a question around the time that I finished my doctoral studies.
In these last ten years, I introduce seminary students to the undeniable significance of contemplative practice, silence, meditation, and other forms of prayer as a grounding source for their vocational aspirations. And by aspirations I don’t simply mean climbing some ministry ladder to achieve more status in your denomination or your church or nonprofit agency. I mean the aspiration of becoming the kind of pastor or minister to which you believe you have been called.
In this vein, my favorite course to teach is called “Prayer and Pastoral Care.” Fortunately when I was coming near the end of my PhD program and thinking about academic jobs, my friend and fellow pastoral theologian Mary Moschella told me to plan the courses I really wanted to teach and not to wait for some better or more ideal time to create them.
Often new teachers are saddled with basic courses that are needed and good, but don’t necessarily make the heart sing. She told me not to wait for some opportunity or permission to create the courses I really wanted to teach.
I’m so grateful for her advice. And I designed two courses immediately. This summer I have the delight of teaching one of those that I adore. I will be teaching “Prayer and Pastoral Care“ at Saint John’s University School of Theology & Seminary. What an amazing place! Two campuses of benedictine communities (St. John’s and St. Ben’s) invite my students and me to be part of the rhythms of the daily life of prayer, while we explore the theological and psychological meanings and uses of prayer for our vocations.
We will immerse ourselves in various practices of prayer each day in class, and we will read and think about the ways that prayer serves as a counter so much anxiety, fear and anger, which are pervasive in our culture and sometimes in our lives.
This week’s episode of Three Minute Ministry Mentor is about one pastor’s experience of connecting prayer and preaching, one of the discrete tasks of the practice of ministry. Rev. Bonita* describes her journey through learning to preach in different styles. As a ribbon through the topical, expository and lectionary preaching, runs Rev. Bonita’s commitment to the prayerful following of the Spirit for guidance in her practice.
Our featured resource this week is WorkingPreacher.org. Whether you are a lectionary preacher, an expository preacher or a topical preacher, or series preacher or a narrative preacher, you will find resources that support your spiritual life and study that prepare you for work of delivering words of good news and hope to the people in your care.
What helps you in your preparation for preaching?
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