THE DUTIES OF A MINISTER
Date: October 10
"But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the Word."
At the time, there was a problem that arose in the early church. There were a lot of people who had needs, and the apostles were trying to minister and help as many people as they could. But in verse 1, we read that there were complaints from the Greek-speaking Jews against the native Hebrews because their widows were being overlooked and neglected in the distribution of relief. Then in verse 2b the apostles said, "It is not seemly or desirable or right that we should have to give up or neglect [preaching] the Word of God in order to attend to serving at tables and superintending the distribution of food." In other words, their commission from God had to be done first, and that was to preach the Gospel.
So in verse 3, they commanded that the people select seven men from among them, who had good and attested characters and reputations and were full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and assign them to look after the duties of relief distribution. Then we come to verse 4 where the apostles say, "But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the Word." Notice that there are two functions that the ministers of the Gospel have: prayer and the ministry of the Word of God.
Prayer is one of the most difficult things to do if you don't have a close relationship with Jesus. If you don't know much about God, then you'll find it very difficult to pray to Him. Prayer is more than just, "God, give me this! God, give me that!" Prayer isn't just asking; prayer is praising God, thanking Him, and lifting up His name. In Psalm 100:4 it says, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with Praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!" That's how you start your prayers – with thanksgiving and praise.
Then in Philippians 4:6 it says, "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God." So with thanksgiving you make your requests known to God. But again, it isn't just "God, give me this! Give me that!" Prayer is naming other people before God and praying for their blessing, their healing, their salvation, or whatever their needs may be. The highest level of prayer that you can reach is when you stand in the gap between God and someone else who needs something from God. Also, when you pray in tongues, you are praying in the perfect will of God.
The second thing that a minister of the Gospel has to devote himself to is the ministry of the Word. Now you cannot deliver a sermon to the people by only reading the Word for five minutes. In Joshua 1:8a we read, "This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it." So according to this verse, you have to spend time meditating upon the Word of God day and night, meaning all the time. The Bible should be the most read book in your life. In order to minister the Word to other people, you need to hear from God. The way you hear from God is by devoting yourself to reading His Word and praying. Those are the two main priorities of God's ministers. That's why a minister of the Gospel should not have to do the other administrational jobs around the church (for that purpose there should be either a volunteer or a part/full time person). The pastor should be devoting himself to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Those are the two most important and most powerful duties in a minister's life.