From all I have said about the minister as a sustaining reminder, it becomes clear that a certain unavailability is essential for the spiritual life of the minister. I am not trying to build a religious argument for a game of golf, a trip to a conference, a cruise to the Caribbean, or a sabbatical. These arguments have been made and they all strike me as quite unconvincing in the midst of a suffering world. No, I would like to make a plea for prayer as a creative way of being unavailable.
How would it sound when the question, "Can I speak to the minister?" is not answered by "I am sorry, he has someone in his office" but by "I am sorry, he is praying." When someone says, "The minister is unavailable because this is his day of solitude, this is his day in the hermitage, this is his desert day," could that not be a consoling ministry? What is says is that the minister is unavailable to me, not because he is more available to others, but because he is with God, and God alone - the God who is our God.