And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’  For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”  And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.  And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8 ESV


Praying-HandsI have to admit, I’ve struggled with the concept of prayers of petition. I’ve always fallen more toward the “God’s will” side of prayer than the “ask and receive” side.

Think about it. The God of all creation, maker of everything. The omniscient and omnipotent Lord of the universe is who we pray to. He knows what I need and want and will pray before I ever ask it. Why, then, do I need to ask anything? I always felt it was better to seek God’s will in decisions and circumstances than to ask for specific things. If God is good and just, and has a perfect plan for my life, ought I not seek that plan rather than try to figure out my own path and drop a couple prayers into some sort of divine vending machine?

But then you run into this parable. Right out front the reason it’s told is laid out: So you will always pray and not lose heart. It’s the story of a woman’s persistence over whelming a judge, who didn’t even fear God or respect men. But here is God, who loves us as opposed to a judge who tolerates us, will he not give justice? There is a similar story in Luke 11 about a sleeping neighbor’s bread.

It’s clear that prayers of petition are encouraged here.

Now, let’s not go crazy. Obviously God says no all the time. He won’t do something against his nature. He will often allow us to go through hard times for his purposes. He heals some, and allows others to die. He is God, we are not.

And many times when the Bible talks about asking and receiving, there is a second part of the concept that reminds us that this works not because God has to agree, but like John 14 says, we receive so “the Father may be glorified in the Son.” So don’t expect God to agree to give you a million dollars just because you add the words “in Jesus name” at the end of your request.

So let’s assume that you are asking something of God, something within the calling he has placed on you, something that could be within his will for your life. Something that will either bring him glory in itself or through some result of the request. Wouldn’t a prayer of petition like the widow’s be not just OK, be welcomed and encouraged?

But wait, If God knows my heart, and everything I will say before I say it, why do I need to pray?

It’s the act of praying, of asking for something that acknowledges that this thing is out of your power. You are bending your will to God’s. Prayers of petition aren’t about what God learns of our desires. They are about us learning to rely and depend on God for everything. Even if he says no.

So bow your head and bend your will. Do not be discouraged. Keep asking. Don’t lose heart.

This is my petition: I need a job that allows me to provide for my family and still do what You have called me to do. I am going to be as persistent as the widow. I believe that you can give this to us, and you will.


Being Appreciated as a Pastor

October is pastor appreciation month. This year, for some reason, I seem to be getting more appreciated than past years. On Sunday we got called to the platform and handed a nice gift. I had free breakfast and two free lunches. I’ve gotten a steady stream of cards and notes from the kids at our church’s school. This isn’t normal for me.

I’m normally the guy no one knows, who works behind the scenes. I’m not normally recognized.

I was recently attending a service at my parent’s very small church in southeastern Missouri. My father was out of town, but my mother and my family were present. I met the pastor prior to the service, and he knew from my parents that I was in ministry. This was a very traditional church, and they still followed the practice of calling on members from the pulpit to pray. At the time of the invocation the pastor called out for “Brother Link” to pray. I immediately wondered why he would do that when my dad, Brother Link, was not present. And then I realized that I was Brother Link.

I quickly started praying.

I still get weird about people calling me pastor. There are people that know me as a pastor, and depending on how formal they are, some of them address me as “pastor” or “pastor Link” and that feels weird.

Don’t get me wrong. I am called and set apart for ministry. I was ordained into the ministry on October 17, 2004. I’ve got the Bible to prove it. I have the documents hanging on my wall right now. The Church recognized God’s call on my life and set me apart for ministry. But it still makes me chuckle when I get mail addresses as “Reverend.”

There are a couple of reasons, I think. First, I’m no better or higher than anyone else. I know that I will be held to a higher standard when I meet God because of my role in leadership, but between us humans, we are the same. I’m no better than anyone. Please, do not put me or any pastor on a pedestal. We will just get hurt more when we fall off it. The title “pastor” is given out of respect. I know I’m just a normal guy, sinful guy, trying to do right guy. I will make mistakes as much as anyone else. I am grateful for the respect that my position gives because of my title, but am more concerned with earning that respect.

Another reason is that I am always in a support ministry role. That’s part of the reason I keep being amazed that I can work on my TV show project. The church get’s nothing out of it, except the kingdom growth potential. Of course that’s why we do all sorts of things. I’m just not used to being on this side of ministry. I’m more familiar with working to help others accomplish their ministry goals.

As someone who leads a team that supports other ministries, let me say that it is easy for people to forget that what we do is critical. I love the fact that much of what I am involved with has eternal significance. If you are leading a ministry, don’t take the support teams around you for granted. You need them.

Just because I am called “pastor” does not elevate me above those who work with me or for me. I’m the one who bears the brunt if problems occur. I shoulder the blame. I pass on the credit. That’s why I get uncomfortable when I’m applauded just for being a pastor. I know anything I’ve done is because God chose to work through me and those who serve around me.

So, if you are participating in pastor Appreciation month, please don’t be offended if the pastor you are trying to appreciate seems odd about the whole thing. He probably wishes he could turn the whole thing around and show his appreciation for you.


I am a task oriented person. It is easy for me to get going on a project, or just get to work. My job keeps my doing things during worship. I think you can worship while pushing buttons, but that’s a different post.

Today the pastors gathered with the seniors from our school and worshipped and prayed together. It was a sweet time. It was 30-40 minutes out of a very busy day. We stopped, came together, sang and prayed. There was no big production, no big agenda. It was very cool to just go and talk with a high school senior, and ask how you could pray for them. We have some very insightful students.

It was unexpected. It something I had to do today. A meeting between longer meetings before time to produce video content for Easter. It was a sweet moment.

Who knew this would be highlight of my day?