In their newly published A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have some important, albeit difficult, words about the pastoral work of praying for the congregation.
First, a quote about the content of our prayers:
We must plead God’s promises back to Him, framing our ardent desires with those words and phrases that the Lord Himself has given us as the best and clearest expressions of His will and intent. (Pg. 173)
Second, a quote about the subject of our prayers:
Remember your people, those for whom you strive. Show no favoritism among them in your prayers. If anything, make prayer one of those rare occasions on which you practice positive discrimination, and pray most for those whom you find hardest or know to be most troublesome. Plead for God’s richest blessings upon the heads of those who make your life the most difficult, whose sins are most aggravating and annoying. This will stir up love, for you will find it almost impossible to have a hard heart towards those for whom you pray in such a fashion. At the same time, do not overlook any member of the flock. Again, it is too easy for the overseers to concentrate on the hard cases and leave the healthy to take care of themselves. Generally, that will result in unhealthiness across the board. (Pg. 173)
Very much influenced by the Puritans (and written in their style), this book by Ventura and Walker is a nice little pastoral read. I find that books like this are often the lowest on my priority list but are in reality some of the most important parts of my intellectual and spiritual diet. So far, I am enjoying this little book very much!