I know a lot about lazy preachers, at times being one myself. Every “prayer of a lazy preacher” below I have probably prayed in one way or another, to one degree or other.
It’s easy to point at do-nothing pastors as being the anomaly and call for them to leave the ministry and stop being a blight on the name of the Lord. But in truth, many of us who work hard and long in serving Him are basically lazy and have to fight the urge to vegetate all the time. And, don’t be surprised if some of the real over-achievers found in the Lord’s work fight the same battles and are always working to compensate for those Beetle Baileyish desires to rest and then rest some more.
Consider these prayers of a lazy preacher....
1) “Lord, give me a great text for tomorrow’s sermon, one no one else has ever noticed before and a clever interpretation of it, one no one else would have ever seen. No rush. Just in the next hour since we leave for the ball game at six. Amen.”
2) “Lord, I pray for Mrs. Jackson there in the ICU. Please let her live just a little longer so I can enjoy the ball game tonight. I promise to (ahem) try to see her tomorrow sometime so the family won’t feel I’ve failed them. Thank you.”
3) “Dear Lord, please don’t let anyone die this weekend or have a bad emergency. With the family coming in for my graduation, my mama would not understand if I have to leave the dinner to make a pastoral visit. Amen.”
4) “Here am I, Lord, send Aaron.” (The wonderful Jill Briscoe wrote a book by that clever title.) This is a variation of the lazy layperson’s prayer: “Lord, I pray you will use the pastor to reach this world for Christ, but not mess with me or my busy schedule in the process.”
5) “God bless all the missionaries and all whom it’s our duty to pray for.” A friend says this is praying “wholesale,” instead of “retail.”
6) “Forgive me in advance” (for not studying, not forgiving, not visiting the sick, whatever it is I am determined not to do). This is praying presumptively, something David prayed against in Psalm 19.
7) “Lord, I’ll do that just as soon as….” (complete the sentence however you need to, most often with something like: “as soon as I finish this novel,” “get the energy,” “this program is over,” or “I feel led.”
Finally, my brethren…
I’ve racked my brain trying to think of a preacher in Scripture who would qualify as lazy and who might contribute something worthwhile to this discussion. The only one that comes to mind, and not everyone agrees with this, is when the disciples in the Upper Room prayed, “Lord, show us which of these two men you have chosen as the next apostle” (my paraphrase of Acts 1:24-25). Is that a lazy prayer? It could be, or a hasty one. Seems to me the Lord was preparing Saul of Tarsus for that coveted role, and the disciples were running ahead of the Lord. It’s as though they were saying, “While we’re sitting here in the Upper Room waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit, let’s do something profitable with our time.” Not a good thing.