I hate that sinking feeling I get when I first see the announcement that another evangelical leader has burnt out, had an affair, been defrocked for abuse, or been living a double life. It’s a strange sensation of disappointment, pity, rage, and fear. As a pastor, it’s a feeling that has grown all too familiar.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in my office and an email notification popped up on the screen. Before I even clicked, I knew it was going to contain more disappointment. A member at church had fallen back into sin—again. Frustration washed over me as I began to imagine the conversation in my mind. It was one we’d had a dozen times.

For nearly ten minutes, I spun in my desk chair playing out the familiar scene line by line: I’ll open with this probing question, then I’ll bring up the sin and point to this Scripture, and after I’ve listened for a while I’ll really dig in hard this time because this is just unacceptable! Why does this member keep slipping back into the mud? I mean really, I’ve got better things to do than to deal with this problem for the hundredth time.

It was in that moment of exasperation that a thought caught me square across the jaw: Hold on. When was the last time I prayed for this member to persevere through temptation? Suddenly, my whole perspective changed. What if this member keeps falling into sin because I keep failing to pray?

We all know we ought to pray. The question is, how often to do we actually want to pray? If you are like me, Jesus put his finger on our pulse when he chided: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). So often it takes an unexpected crisis or some catastrophic fall into sin to jolts ...

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