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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

Relevant or Righteous?

“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.” – Ephesians 6:18 (NRSV)[1]

There’s been a growing awareness within me of the importance of praying for our leaders and parishioners. Perhaps this consciousness is spurred by my conversations with church leaders, pastors, priests, and congregants.

One question that seems to be at the top of the list is: How can we (our church/parish and Christians) be relevant in our world?

For many, declining attendance and increased resistance to the claims of Christianity indicate a shift in cultural attitude and preference. Finding new and creative ways to be relevant may appear to be a good thing. However…

… I wonder if we’re asking the correct question? What’s more important: Being relevant or righteous? Henri Nouwen reminds us:

“To live a life that is not dominated by the desire to be relevant but is instead safely anchored in the knowledge of God’s first love, we have to be mystics (a person whose identity is deeply rooted in God’s first love).” [2]

For some, the word “mystic” conveys an image of one isolated and out of touch with the “real world;” an individual indifferent to what’s going on around them.

However, Paul’s admonition to: “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication,” is a timely reminder for each of us to make sure our prayers are in alignment with the Spirit’s purpose.

If we are to be relevant, we must pursue righteousness, first. Praying according to the Spirit’s purpose encourages uprightness, which is still appropriate and beneficial for our world.

Will you join me in making a purposeful decision to regularly pray for your pastor, priest, and church leaders?

Influential leaders of the future are men and women who desire to dwell in God’s presence and listen attentively to God’s voice. In Nouwen’s words:

“Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance.” [3]


[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Eph 6:18.

[2] In the Name of Jesus (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1989), p 42

[3] Ibid, p 43

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