The Pastor's Daily Prayer
(paragraph 4 of 13)
Glory and honor, praise and thanks be to you, God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for all the mercy and faithfulness you have shown to this congregation. Your word has not returned unto you void, but you have here gathered a people that knows you and fears your name. Give me your Holy Spirit, that I may at all times see the good things in this congregation and praise and thank you for them. Bless your word in the future, that it may preserve the believers in your grace, convert those that are not yet yours, and bring back the erring and delinquent. Gather your people as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and be a wall of fire around your congregation.
I have found this paragraph to be particularly helpful, as it begins by thanking God for the good he has done, particularly in having gathered a group of people who delight in hearing his word, praying, singing, confessing the faith, and working together for the kingdom. It is easy for a pastor to moan and lament that the church is not full. Too often, the pastor only sees the people who did not come to church rather than the ones who faithfully do come. (This is both good and evil. The pastor does truly grieve over those members who are not attending, knowing that they are not receiving the grace of God in word and sacrament. He prays over them more than the members who do attend. On the other hand, the pastor also struggles with his own ego, wondering why these people do not come to hear him! As with all people, the pastor's motives are mixed--both noble and selfish.)
The prayer remind the pastor, and thanks God appropriately, that there are people in whom the Holy Spirit lives. They make their confession evident by coming to church. The pastor dare not forget that. His faith, too, is evidence of God's grace, that God has brought life to one who was dead in sin. Each worshiper is a reason to rejoice.
Nevertheless, God desires to be gracious to even more. So the pastor remembers the members under his care whose attendance is seldom or has ceased. He also remembers the many who live around us who do not attend church because they are not (yet!) a part of the Good Shepherd's flock. The prayer is that God's word would be proclaimed and that God would gather more and more under his mercy and care. And since the world will always be hostile against Jesus, the pastor prays that the Good Shepherd will always protect his people and keep them faithful to him.