A Prayer for Ministerial Candidates (Newton)

What things should a man think about as he contemplates being officially called to the gospel ministry? This is obviously a huge question that has a long answer! One great and longer answer to that question is found in John Newton’s pamphlet called Ministry on My Mind. This is a booklet published by the John Newton Project (www.JohnNewton.org). Here’s a prayer of Newton’s as he was reflecting on his own path to the pastoral ministry. This prayer is based on 2 Corinthians 2:16: “Who is sufficient for these things?”

…Who is sufficient?  O Lord do thou answer for me – had the matter depended in whole or in part upon any worthiness or ability in me, surely I had not proceeded thus far, surely I had rejected the very first suggestion with horror and astonishment.  I confess O Lord there is no one more unfit than me, no one half so unworthy; but am not I in thy hand as clay in the hand of the Potter?  Canst not thou turn me and mould me, frame me and strengthen me as thou wilt? Is it hard for thee O Lord to make a crooked thing straight, to turn a wilderness into pools of water, and to cause the pine tree and the myrtle to spring up instead of thorns and brambles?

If it shall please thee O Lord to magnify thy mercy to a poor wretch, who not long since was possessed by a legion of unclean spirits, wounding and tearing himself and all about him; if it seem good unto thee not only to restore such a one to his right mind, but likewise to send him on a gracious errand to his friends and neighbours, and give him charge and power to declare wherever he comes what great things thou hast done for him: if this seem good in thy sight who shall object!  Will thy people repine?  Nay, surely, they will rejoice and glorify in my behalf; will sinners take exceptions at such a messenger: or rather when they see one of their fellow criminals, a very ringleader in rebellion, a traitor and apostate sent back with life, pardon, and honour, will they not be the more readily inclined from the circumstances of the case to believe the testimony I shall be enabled to bear of thy long-suffering, forbearance, and mercy, and truth.

O Lord I lay myself low before thee; call, and I will answer; send and I will go, but O let thy presence go with me, and fill me with thy peace in the way; let me know thou hast accepted me, and encourage me to go forth, and to go on, and to hold out to the end, for thy name’s sake.  Amen. 

John Newton, Ministry on My Mind, p. 4-5.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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