Book Review: Pray for the Flock, by Brian Croft and Ryan Fullerton
Brian Croft and Ryan Fullerton, Pray for the Flock: Ministering God’s Grace through Intercession. Zondervan, 2015. 128 pps. $12.99.
Writing a book on prayer and fasting cannot be easy since both actions are commanded by Christ to be done in secret. So, how do you broach these subjects with integrity and practical experience without making it all about yourself? These two pastors have done a good job, which I believe is one of the values of a book like this having more than one author.
The first section has six short chapters that serve as reminders of the importance of prayer in the Bible and in the lives of believers. The second section has six short chapters of application. The result is a concise and helpful book to aid elders in praying regularly for their flock.
As a whole, this book is more practical than profound, but that really is the point. We tend to talk a lot more about prayer than actually pray. And chances are, if you are an elder you want to pray more intentionally and regularly for your people. This little book will encourage you to do that. But it will encourage you to do more than that since in addition to helping you pray for your flock, there are chapters on praying publicly, praying for special occasions, and praying globally; there is also a chapter on fasting.
This is one of those books that your elders could read together and gain fresh encouragement and ideas. The initial chapters are short enough to cover in a summary fashion in an elders’ meeting and the application chapters could be great discussion starters for your guys. For example, you could assign each chapter (or two) in Section 1 to an elder to review and discuss with the others. Then in the same (or next) meeting you could discuss how well you as elders pray for your flock and review the topics covered in Section 2. Chances are you and your elders need to be challenged and encouraged to pray for the flock more faithfully and effectively.
The chapters in Section 2 address several practical areas of ministry as it relates to prayer. For example, some of your elders may do a better job praying publicly than others. Discussing this with them can be rather awkward, but there is a chapter here that will help get that topic on the table. Discussing this with your elders will allow your elders to help one another. In terms of praying for every member of the flock, your elders could certainly borrow the plan that Brian uses or develop your own. However you do it, the end result would be elders who are functioning more as shepherds. Every elder could read this book and benefit from it.
Another benefit of reading and discussing this book together with your elders is the chapter and appendix on fasting. Your congregation is going to face a crisis. When that happens, your elders need to be ready to lead the congregation in fasting. If your elders cultivate the discipline of fasting ahead of time, they would be better prepared to lead the flock in crisis. There are several types of fasts suggested and your elders can practice some of these now.
Brian Croft’s books in the Practical Shepherding series are obviously intended to give an elder specific ideas on how to minister well. This book is another good contribution to the series.