That's it . . . I'm finished. Done. Retired. I've resigned my official duties as the D.P.
What is a D.P.? It is a Designated Prayer. That's the pastor's job you know! When the pastor shows up at an event -- a dinner, a wedding, a ball game, a gala -- you can count on it, someone is going to ask him: "Will you lead us in prayer?"
If only I could go to Vegas with such odds (I'm kidding!).
A few weeks back the leadership of the River Run, Spanish River's annual 5K race to benefit the community, asked me if I would lead in prayer. Of course they did, I'm the D.P.! And of course, I said what all good D.P.'s say: "Sure!"
But then I started thinking, "Wait a minute. If I do that, I'm sending a subtle message that runners run and pastors pray; that runners do the athletic work, pastors do the "spiritual work." That's not what God says. In fact, it was God's "holy man," Paul, who told the "regular folks" in the church at Corinth "you also must help us by prayer" (2 Corinthians 1:11). To the people in the pews in Ephesus he said, "Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel" (Ephesians 6:19).
So I made up my mind to resign. When I told our River Run leaders, it made perfectly good sense to them. Fast forward to last Saturday and the big race. We had 567 runners enter our 5K. As I walked to the starting line, I ran into a couple of my friends from church. As it turned out, one of them (Keith) was the runner our leaders asked to pray. "So you're the one who got me into this?!" he joked. Guilty as charged!
I was loving it. I was loving that Keith who is a runner, and a husband, and a father, and a businessman in the financial services industry, is also a faithful follower of Jesus WHO PRAYS! And he prayed -- "much better" than I would have too! Here was the scene that puts a smile on my face:
See the big crowd of runners ...
See Keith pray ...
See Keith line up to run ...
Run Keith run ...
And run he did. Keith finished third in his age group with a finish time of 19.59.02, overall one of the best times of the day. Way to go!
Just so you know, I'm not adverse to praying. In fact, it is part of my job description from God (see Acts 6:1-4). At the same time, I think it is great when people see people--who are not pastors--praying. It sends three very important messages:
- You are a follower of Jesus. When you pray publically, you are humbly acknowledging that Jesus is Lord.
- Talking with God is a 24/7 enterprise. We pray at home, at work, at school, at the race . . . oh yeah, and at church too!
- You don't have to be a pastor to pray in public. Nope! God does not require ordination papers for this job.
Yes, this runner prays. How about you?