“Brothers, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25)
“To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
and pray also for me, that words may be given to me
in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
for which I am an ambassador in chains,
that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesian 6:18b-20).
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
At the same time, pray also for us,
that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ,
on account of which I am in prison—
that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:2-4).
We might presume someone as powerfully used by the Lord as the apostle Paul wouldn’t need prayer. It’s us little ordinary people who need apostles (and pastors) to pray for us. True. But Paul’s requests remind us that leaders need prayer, too. In fact—not to make too much of leaders—I might say they especially need prayer. Our prayer. Here are four reasons why we should pray for our pastor.
One, he has the fearful responsibility of preaching God’s Word. Preaching the Gospel is a high joy. To stand before a congregation and proclaim the Good News of God’s grace in Christ and realize this is the best news anyone can ever hear satisfies the preacher’s soul. But to remember his message has eternal consequences and that he is speaking for God makes preaching a fearful responsibility for him. It’s one thing for a doctor to prescribe medication for a sore throat, another for a doctor to perform open heart surgery. The preacher is more heart-surgeon than general practitioner. He’s got to get it right! So our pastor, however gifted he may be, needs our prayers for the empowering of the Holy Spirit when he studies God’s Word, when he prepares his sermon, and when he preaches it. How faith-building for the pastor to know that his people have been praying for him and that we’re all together in the spiritual battle of God’s Word accomplishing the purpose for which he sends it out!
Two, the devil prowls like a lion looking to devour the pastor. True, Peter warned the church, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But the devil’s no dummy. If he can corrupt the pastor’s faith, he can infect the whole church. “Strike the shepherd,” Jesus said, “and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matthew 26:31). So, it seems to me that Satan has pastors, particularly, in his sights. The pastor needs the power of our prayers to be strong to resist the devil and stand firm in the faith. He needs the might of our prayers to say “no” to ungodliness. He needs the influence of our prayers to turn away from the seduction of this world for the glory of the unseen God and his yet-to-be-seen kingdom. He needs the “push” of our prayers to walk in the way of Christ, so he can call us to follow him as he follows Christ. To live out what he preaches–this may be the pastor’s greatest challenge. For that he needs to be filled with the power of the Spirit that comes through prayer.
Three, the weight of concern he carries daily for the church is heavy. Paul boasted of many things that showed his weakness. One was ” . . . the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28). A pastor cares for the well-being of his people as individuals. A pastor cares about the spiritual health of the church as a family. A pastor cares about the influence of the church in the community. A pastor cares about the hurts of the members. A pastor cares about the people loving each other as Christ loved us, instead of bickering and fighting. A pastor cares that the church he leads see and enjoy the glory of God. The weight of all this concerncan be heavy. A pastor needs people who will hold him up in prayer, as Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands for the battle in the wilderness (Exodus 17:12).
Four, the pastor is just a man like us. Times have changed since the days when a minister was a revered member of the community. Yet, even today, we subconsciously assume that the pastor exists in a higher spiritual realm than the rest of us. Certainly we expect him to know God’s Word better (and to know God better) and to walk in closer fellowship with him than the rest of us “ordinary” people. How can he lead if he isn’t further ahead forging the path of following Jesus? But he is tempted in every way as we are—and he (unlike our great High Priest) isn’t without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Like, he has a family to care for and relationship problems that rise from time to time. He may have health issues and financial struggles. His body and car break down just like ours. God doesn’t shelter him in a spiritual cocoon! As they say, he puts his pants on one leg at a time too. For the ordinary stuff of day-to-day life, our pastor needs our prayers as much as we need his.
Now our church—SonRise Community—is elder-led. That means, while our pastor is “first among equals”, all our elders need our prayers as they lead together. So whether our prayer list is in our head or on paper, let’s be sure to add our pastor and the other elders. As the book of Hebrews says in a slightly different context: that will be an advantage to us all (Hebrews 13:17b).