|. . . we should be grateful for professors who practice what they teach.
The evening session of the conference had just ended and I stopped to say hello to a colleague and friend, a pastor who is on an exciting prayer journey.
Kevin Carrothers, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rochester, IL, was genuinely excited to tell me about the breakout he had attended earlier in the day: Praying Scripture. The conference notebook indicated that breakout would be taught by a seminary professor and, much like many of you reading this, I wondered if it would be strong on theology but lacking in practical wisdom.
Well . . . stereotyping is never a good idea and, as my pastor friend reviewed his experience, totally inappropriate in this situation. He explained to me several of the principles that were taught but also how the professor (Dr. Don Whitney from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) helped the participants authentically experience them. Plus, my colleague's explanation went beyond regurgitating what he had heard; he was already applying new ideas to his ministry back home. Information was fueling application leading toward implementation. And that implementation would lead toward a transformation in the prayer life of that congregation.
For example, the teacher explained how to pray through Psalm 23, modeled it for them, then gave them an opportunity to practice as part of the breakout. That brief personal experience provided a key insight. Pastor Kevin realized that every Sunday, when he reads the scripture text of the sermon then prays before preaching, he could pray through the scripture instead. A simple change that would model for the members of his congregation how to pray scripture, draw them deeper into his prayer and connect their corporate praying to both the scripture and the sermon. A simple and easy-to-implement change that will also impact how those members pray in their small groups and Sunday classes.
Near the end of the conversation, Kevin shared a bonus insight. According to Dr. Whitney, we need to train church members in how to pray scripture in their personal praying before we attempt to implement it in a corporate setting. When we invite a corporate group to use a new method, the participants are prone to revert to their default style of praying unless they have experimented with the new approach. No wonder so many prayer champions get discouraged after trying something new or different. Another simple insight that has huge implications for those who facilitate prayer.
In that brief conversation, a good conference got even better.
It seems to me, we should be grateful for professors who practice what they teach . . . and be thankful for pastors who internalize and implement what they've been taught.
P.S. A week later, I received this in an emessage from Kevin: "I have been praying the Word all week and even shared it at our community pastors' fellowship. It has been refreshing."