5 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor in 2020
As a pastor, I sometimes mistakenly think that those most in need of my prayers in the church are those who have the most noticeable spiritual or physical weaknesses. I would imagine that, if we are honest with ourselves, we have all thought or said at some time or another something along the lines of, “So-and-so is really going to need a lot of prayer.” On the one hand, it is entirely right that we acknowledge that our brothers and sisters who have more noticeable weaknesses have a great need for our prayers. On the other hand, however, those to whom God has given the most gifts and graces are also greatly in need of our prayers. Contrary to what some might suppose, ministers of the gospel desperately need the prayers of the saints.
Pastors need the saints’ prayers because they are ever the object of the flaming arrows of the evil one. In addition, the world is eager to run them over at any opportunity. As one of my seminary professors so illustratively put it, “Ministers have a bull’s eye on their backs and footprints up their chests.” Sadly, this is even a reality for pastors within the context of the local church.
With so much opposition and difficulty within and without, pastors constantly need the people of God to be praying for them. The shepherd needs the prayers of the sheep as much as they need his prayers. He also is one of Christ’s sheep and is susceptible to the same weaknesses. While there are many things one could pray for pastors, here are five straightforward scriptural categories:
1. Pray for their spiritual protection from the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Whether it was Moses’ sinful anger leading to his striking of the rock (Num. 20:7-12), David’s adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11), or Simon Peter’s denial of the Lord (Matt. 26:69-75) and practical denial of justification by faith alone (Gal. 2:11-21), ministers are faced with the reality of the weakness of the flesh, the assaults of the world, and the rage of the devil. There have been a plethora of ministers who have fallen into sinful practices in the history of the church and so brought disgrace to the name of Christ. Since Satan has ministers of the gospel (and their families) locked in his sight—and since God’s honor is at stake in a heightened sense with any public ministry of the word—members of the church should pray that their pastor and their pastor’s family would not fall prey to the world, the flesh, or the devil.
2. Pray for their deliverance from the physical attacks of the world and the devil.
While under prison guard in Rome, the Apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Philippi to pray for his release when he wrote, “I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:19; see also 2 Cor. 1:9-11.). After Herod imprisoned Simon Peter, we learn that “constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12:5). After an exodus-like deliverance from prison, Luke tells us that Peter showed up at the home where the disciples were continuing to pray for his deliverance. This is yet another example of the minister being delivered from harm due, in part, to the prayers of the saints.
3. Pray for doors to be opened to them for the spread of the gospel.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul asked the church to be praying “that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains” (Col. 4:3). The success of the spread of the gospel is dependent in part on the prayers of the people of God. In this way, the church shares in the gospel ministry with the pastor. Though he is not the only one in the body who is called to spread the word, he has a unique calling to “do the work of an evangelist.” The saints help him fulfill this work by praying that the Lord would open doors “for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ.”
4. Pray that they might have boldness and power to preach the gospel.
In addition to praying for open doors for the ministry of the word, the people of God should pray that ministers would have Spirit-wrought boldness. When writing to the church in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul asked them to pray for him “that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19). There is a well-known story of several college students going to visit the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London in order to hear Charles Spurgeon preach. As the story goes, Spurgeon met them at the door and offered to show them around. At one point he asked if they wanted to see the church’s heater plant (boiler room). He took them downstairs where they saw hundreds of people praying for God’s blessings on the service and on Spurgeon’s preaching. The gathering of the people of God to pray for the ministry of the word is what he called “the heating plant”! Believers can help ministers by praying that they would be given boldness and power in preaching the gospel.
5. Pray that they might have a spirit of wisdom and understanding.
One of the most pressing needs for a minister of the gospel is that he would be given the necessary wisdom to counsel, to know when to confront, to mediate, and to discern the particular pastoral needs of a congregation. This is an all-encompassing and recurring need. The minister is daily faced with particular challenges for which he desperately needs the wisdom of Christ. It is said of Jesus that “the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge, and of counsel and might” was upon Him (Is. 11:2). The servants of Christ need that same Spirit. Much harm is done to the church as a whole if the minister does not proceed with the wisdom commensurate to the challenges with which he is faced. Those who benefit from this wisdom can help the minister by calling down this divine blessing from heaven upon him.