Before signing out and "disappearing" from the public, Pastor John Piper left supporters with a final video message that was posted Friday.
While expressing deep gratitude to those who have supported his ministry, Desiring God, the popular preacher appealed for specific prayers as to what he hopes to achieve during his eight-month break, which began on May 1.
"I'm trying to disengage from this kind of video stuff for eight months, from preaching, from writing books, from writing blogs, from tweeting; I'm trying to just go down to relationships that are precious to me and see what happens in my heart," Piper, 64, said in the video.
He called the leave of absence a period of "stocktaking" and a "reality check" for his soul and his relationships.
"Pray for my soul," he requested to supporters.
After 30 years of ministry, Piper began seeing "several species of pride" within himself and "ongoing character flaws" that he grieved over.
"I want to do a reality check on my own heart and my walk with God, my love to God, my relationship to the Word, not as an instrument by which to create sermons or blogs or tweets but rather as food for my soul," he said.
The bestselling author also appealed for prayer support for his marriage.
Though there isn't a "whiff" of unfaithfulness on either side, Piper said his marriage needs tending.
"I pray that God will make us deeper in our love for each other, better in the way we communicate to each other, more tender, more up building, more kind, more affirming, more admiring ... all the stuff marriage should be that we long to be better at and richer in," he said in the video.
With five children and 12 grandchildren, Piper plans to use his leave to also tend to his wider family.
"That's a big little church, right?" he said of his family's size. "I'm charged as kind of a patriarch to be healing in that wide milieu and to be life giving rather than life taking."
"So ask the Lord to just make me a blessing everywhere I touch in that set of relationships because I love those family members very much."
At the end of his leave, Piper hopes to arrive at a clear vision of what life will look like when he returns to ministry.
It will have a public dimension, he noted, adding that he hopes and plans to preach again for several more years at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. But he will likely do less "outside work," he said.
Ultimately, he hopes to develop a life and ministry that is life giving and in which his marriage and his church could flourish.
Piper made the announcement late March to Bethlehem Baptist Church that he would be withdrawing from all church and ministry-related duties for eight months. Kenny Stokes, who was previously the church's Downtown Campus pastor, is serving as Interim Pastor for Preaching while Piper is away.