“Pray for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel” (Ephesians 6:19).
Whether requested or not, you and I would do well to pray for our pastors.
Then, continuing to pray for your pastor in good times and ill is a sign of great faith in Christ.
So much depends on whether our spiritual leaders are functioning well, close to the Lord, thinking clearly, and in good health.
Here are ten requests we should be asking of the Father for our pastors….
One. A strong sense of God’s calling on the pastor’s life.
“It is the Lord Christ whom ye serve.” (Colossians 3:24)
He is not his own, nor is he “ours.” He has been bought with a price. So, we pray that He may always have a clear sense of where his allegiance begins and ends. This will produce a far greater intensity in his faith and drive to his work ethic than anything the deacons or finance committee can impose.
Two. An increasingly deeper love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
I pray for my pastor to continually be growing in Christ, in his love for the Word, and in his ability to lead the church. Pity the church whose pastor stopped growing decades ago, who has not had a new idea in ages and who reruns the same platitudes and program ideas year after year. Such a pastor needs lay leaders who love him and the Lord enough to speak the hard truth to him. We can pray for that.
Three. A devotion to the Scriptures.
“I have esteemed the words of Thy mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
I pray my pastor will hunger for the riches and delights of God’s Word the way I hunger for Blue Bell Vanilla Bean ice cream each night! (And that is quite a passion!) The pastor who opens God’s Word with a dread each week–“Oh bother. I have to find a sermon!”–is a reproach upon the ministry and a cancer upon the church. Let us pray our pastors will hunger for and delight in God’s Word and spend much time in the Scriptures to receive guidance from the Father. .
Four. A sincere love for people of all kinds.
“Do you love me? Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15ff).
A pastor is a shepherd of the Lord’s people. His devotion to the people stems from his love for the Lord Himself. The pastor who only tolerates God’s people and resents their interruptions into his schedule will either leave the ministry or will see his effectiveness dwindling. Paul told the Ephesian elders, “Shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
And let him love everyone. Our Lord said even the world’s people will love those who love them, will give to those who return the favor, and will do good to those who are kind to them. But God’s people are to live by a higher standard and love the unlovely, give to the undeserving, and bless those who are ugly and harsh to them (see Luke 6:27-35). Pastors will have constant opportunities to show how this is done. Let us pray they will be role models.
Five. A great relationship with his spouse.
“Husband, love your wife even as Christ loved the church….” (Ephesians 5:25). Peter told his audience that husbands and wives “are heirs together of the grace of life” (I Peter 3:7). As a husband/pastor of more than half a century, when my wife and I were close, I always felt closer to the Lord.
Husbands must take the initiative in protecting quality time with his wife and children. He should enlist the aid of the office and ministry staff in this endeavor, which will always be under attack. The congregation should pray for the pastor’s marriage and be supportive of reasonable requests to further strengthen this vital relationship.
My longtime friend Pastor Mike Miller not only keeps Friday as his day with wife Terri, but he announces it from the pulpit and makes sure the staff covers all responsibilities for that day. They’ve kept this schedule for many years, and the vitality of their marriage is a tribute to this devotion.
Six. Good health.
“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (III John 2).
A wise pastor must be proactive in guarding his weight and his general health. The obese pastor will be limited in his activities and may have a shortened tenure. The congregation cannot watch his diet nor insist on his exercise routine, but it can pray. Let us pray for our pastors.
Seven. Wisdom in decision-making.
“If anyone lack wisdom, let him ask of God…” (James 1:5). I expect it’s just as biblical and God-pleasing to ask God to grant wisdom to our pastors, too.
Pastors are called on to make decisions a hundred times every day: How to spend their limited time and energies, which crisis to respond to, how to deal with a staff problem or a difficult member, and how to balance the needs of their families with all the other demands. A pastor’s job is 24/7/365 and he lives in a world of unfinished business. When he lays his head on the pillow at night, pray God will remove the anxieties and worries that would rob him of sleep.
Eight. That he may be protected from an unrestrained ego.
“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you…(not) as lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock…. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you….” (I Peter 5).
Pastors of large churches may find themselves surrounded by people who flatter them, who praise them relentlessly, and whose constant admiration is stifling. The pastor who addresses large crowds, who is receiving acclaim from the denomination for his effectiveness, and whose successes call to him from television screens and book sales will need to take steps to resist his own pride. You and I can pray for him.
Pray that the pastor may never believe all the flattery of his best supporters nor take to heart all the negativism from his detractors. Ask the Lord to keep him balanced and on an even keel.
Nine. That he will have a sweet servant spirit.
A “gentle and quiet spirit (is) very precious in the sight of God” (I Peter 3:4). The ideal pastor is gentle and kind in person and strong and forceful when declaring God’s Word. After all, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness….” (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Lord Jesus said of Himself, “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). People noticed how He was “moved with compassion” (Matthew 9:36). We should pray that we will be like Him, and of course that our pastors will also.
Ten. That God will give the pastor a corps of great advisors and several key mentors.
Every pastor needs reliable and trustworthy advisors as well as a few veteran mentors whom he can call on. Pray God will provide these.
And now, when you’ve done all these things, do one more big thing….
Thank the Father however He chooses to answer that.
Remember: You are not the judge, so do not be scrutinizing your minister to see if and how the Father is coming through for you!
What you see is your answer.
Keep giving thanks.
(Notes: As always, I speak of pastors in the masculine. I’m in the Southern Baptist Convention where our pastors are male. But I have friends in other denomination with women pastors. So rather than encumber the writing of these pieces with ‘pronoun phrases’ (“him or her as the case may be” or vary the references to him and her, which is equally awkward), I appreciate readers making the slight adjustment as needed.
One more thing. I suggest you only rarely tell the pastor you pray for him daily. Perhaps in a birthday or Christmas card, once annually would suffice. People who are constantly reminding the pastor of their daily intercessions may leave the impression they are seeking something from him or are unsatisfied with him. Better to pray and leave it with the Father.)