Marinating in A Praying Life

Marinating in A Praying Life

As we experience ongoing growth and new opportunities, we are very pleased to announce a much-needed addition to the A Praying Life team! Adam Barker has joined us as our new Southwest Coordinator. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Mandy, who loves the Lord and encourages him to do the same.  Adam and Mandy live in Texas with their three children, Jonah, Caleb and Hannah. We sat down with Adam to hear some of his story.

How did you get connected to seeJesus?

About six years ago, I was listening to a sermon by a guy who quoted Paul Miller, talking about community. I looked it up later, and I discovered it was from A Loving Life. I started reading a little more, and I came across A Praying Life. Right after that, we went to The Gospel Coalition as staff from our church. That’s when I met Bob. I give Bob a hard time, because I just awkwardly kept going back to him and hugging him every time we’d have a break! I just wanted to spend some more time with him. He says he doesn’t remember that, so I remind him now, “I was the weird guy who kept coming back to hug you!” The sermon quote, the book, the excitement, then meeting Bob – those were my first connections to seeJesus and A Praying Life

From those first connections, how did you go further with A Praying Life?

I read the book before I met Bob, and walked through it with a couple of my leaders. (One of them still carries the book around in his truck! And the other was there with me eating lunch when Bob called to offer me the job with seeJesus.) My wife and I have recommended the book to so many people throughout the years. I love to read, but usually don’t read a book more than once. A Praying Life was different - I've re-read it multiple times over the years. God used it every time I read it to remind me of His invitation to do life with Him. Another key connecting point was when we had given a small donation, and then Keith Grant was the next guy to contact me. Our gift was really small, but he acted like we had given a million dollars! He just made us feel like we were a part of the ministry. It was fun having that connection. That was it, until the cohort.

So you did eventually join a cohort? 

I did, last October, with Will Peycke. Will was incredible. It was wonderful timing for me, while going through a J-Curve season. You could see God’s hand, God’s sovereignty in it. The conversations with Will and connecting with other pastors got me excited about it. I began to desire to pour into pastors. I didn’t know what that meant – I wasn’t necessarily thinking of A Praying Life in that moment. I just got excited about what God was doing. Seeing God move in those pastors stirred something in me that I’d wanted for a long time. I always thought I’d work with pastors, but I thought I’d be sixty-five when I did it. “I’ll do that later.”

During the middle of the cohort, my grandmother passed away, and I flew out to Florida to do her funeral.  I knew Bob was in “central Florida,” but wasn’t sure where. I emailed seeJesus and told them I was the crazy guy who kept hugging Bob at the Gospel Coalition Conference and wondered if I could get hold of him and take him to lunch. He immediately emailed back. We talked about the ministry and the new things God was doing. Again, I don’t know that at that point I was thinking, “Oh, this is what I want to do.” But God was just tethering me to the ministry. A month after my conversation with Bob, when there really wasn’t an open door for me, I started praying and put on my prayer card, “Can I work for A Praying Life?” I was asking permission! Right below that, I wrote, “Wait for the Lord.” I didn’t tell Bob that – I just started praying. 

Wow, that’s amazing!  Is there anything specific in the book, seminar, cohort that made a significant change in your life? How does that carry over to what you’re passionate about?

My whole life, I’ve struggled with self-reliance. I’m a fixer. I love strategy, I love planning. I’ve had some pivotal steps that God has given me along that journey. One was maybe 12 years ago, when I was preaching through Matthew. As I was preparing the messages on the Lord’s Prayer, God completely humbled me, and reminded me that He’s Father, that He’s in control. I began to see prayer differently. A Praying Life, some years later, was monumental in that too. Every time I read it, I see something else that I’ve forgotten or missed. Coming to God helpless – it’s been so freeing for me. I’m still growing in that. Even entering this new job, I’m fighting off the “strategy! What’s next!?” mode. It’s good – God will use that – but not in my own strength. So even now it’s reminding me of some of those biblical truths that I need to be reminded of. It’s really changed the way not just that I pray, but how I do ministry, how I counsel couples, how I pour into leaders. Freeing is the right word. I don’t feel the weight of transformation on me. That’s been huge.

Passion-wise, I’ve always had a heart for pastors. I’ve served as a lead pastor sixteen years, and as Life Groups Pastor for six years. I see how easy it is to do ministry in our own strength. So I’m excited to come alongside churches, and pastors specifically, to help them wrestle with some of the things I’m still wrestling with, to see some of those truths that I wish we as a church staff had really grabbed hold of before starting to do ministry.  I’m excited to see more of God’s story unfold and humbled to get to be a part of what He is doing in A Praying Life!

Author: Steph Murata