Do you know how to pray for your pastor? Do you understand the nature of the work your pastor does?
Some areas of a pastor’s ministry are undisclosed. Many times the pastor is dealing with hurting people who need a high level of confidentiality, so your pastor is unable to talk openly about this work.
A significant part of the pastor’s life is to be devoted to the ministry of the Word (both study and proclamation) and to prayer. Other urgent matters in the church tend to put demands on the pastor’s time – time that should be spent in the primary responsibility of study, proclamation and prayer. This tension between urgency and primary responsibility has been with the church from the beginning.
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word’ (Acts 6:1-4, NIV).
Because a pastor’s prayer life and study time are in solitude, it is often hard for people to understand what the pastor is doing, much less how to pray positively.
The following are seven suggestions to expand prayers for your pastor beyond general blessing and health.
1. Pray for wisdom. Your pastor faces many daily decisions. Sometimes they are life changing and at other times they are commonplace, but even the ordinary decision can have a long-term impact. Your pastor needs wisdom to make the best use of time. With demands coming from all corners it is easy for your pastor to become busy and neglect the primary responsibilities of the Word (study and proclamation) and prayer.
2. Pray for diligence. With friends making far more money, with bearing the burdens of others, with being a transplant into the community it is easy for a pastor to become discouraged. Pray for God to bring people into your pastor’s life who will help furnish a spirit of renewed determination for the Lord’s work. “You must” said John Wesley, “do one of three things; either spend time in chitchat, or learn Latin or Hebrew, or spend all your time and strength in saving souls.” Pray for your pastor to do the latter.
3. Pray for zeal. When your pastor was received into the ordained ministry, he or she took solemn vows. Time has a way of eroding urgency. Sometimes your pastor needs you to intercede for motivation. Pray for your pastor to regain or retain the zeal signified in these vows: • Determined to instruct from the Scriptures • Diligent to administer the doctrines, sacraments and discipline of Christ • Faithful to banish all erroneous doctrines • Motivated to prayer, the reading of the Scriptures and study • Devoted to regulate and pattern his or her life according to the doctrine of Christ. • Committed to practice and encourage quietness, peace and love among all Christian people.
4. Pray for soundness of doctrine. There are many sources other than God’s Word that can distract your pastor. Pray for your pastor to remain focused and to sort out the “false teachings” that can creep into the life of the church.
5. Pray for purity. Temptations to impurity abound on every front. Even the most innocent and godly pastors can fall into temptation. Pray not only for purity of body, but purity of mind. Pray that your pastor’s mind would be filled with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).
6. Pray for humility. It can be difficult for a pastor to remain humble, especially if the church begins to grow. Even if your pastor is only preaching to a few people, it can be a source of pride. It is not the congregation’s duty to humble the pastor; true humility comes from intimacy with God. The pastor who is closest to God is the one who is most humbled. (See Job 42:1-6; Isaiah 6; Luke 5:1-11.)
7. Pray for power. Your pastor needs to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. When stepping up to preach or sharing Christ in other situations, there is no substitute for the power that comes from being filled with the Spirit. Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to theends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).