Pastoral ministry is a business unlike any other. It is a dangerous business. A sacred business. A business where the souls of people are at stake.
I was a pastor for many years, so I have a feel for the perils and pleasures of ministry. It’s very hard, supremely rewarding work.
Gardiner Spring said:
It is at a fearful expense that ministers are ever allowed to enter the pulpit without being preceded, accompanied, and followed by the earnest prayers of the churches. It is no marvel that the pulpit is so powerless, and ministers so often disheartened when there are so few to hold up their hands…When the churches cease to pray for ministers, ministers will no longer be a blessing to the churches.
In light of the challenges of ministry, here are 8 prayers every church member should pray for their pastor(s) on a regular basis.
#1 – For Protection From Satan
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
If Satan can take down a shepherd of God’s people, the odds are much higher that God’s people will scatter. That they’ll become bitter and disenfranchised. They will question everything they’ve ever been taught by that pastor. Satan targets pastors because the damage is exponential if they fall. Pray for your pastor that he would be kept safe from Satan.
Father, please protect my pastor from the attacks of Satan. Give him the strength to endure temptation and stand firm against the accusations Satan loves to whisper in his ear. Help him stand firm in your service, always fighting for the faith and for his people.
#2 – For Protection Against His Own Sinful Heart
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
Pastors don’t fall because one day, out of the blue, they decide to dive headlong into sin. The slide into sin happens slowly, over time, in small increments, as the pastor believes the lies presented to him by his flesh. Pray for your pastor that he would be on guard against the lies of sin. Pray that he would have a proper fear of God.
Father, please protect my pastor from the deceitfulness of sin that we all are so prone to. Guard him from sin. Keep his conscience tender and fresh. Keep him close to you and close to your word.
#3 – For Deep Spiritual Encouragement
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. (Romans 1:11-12)
Pastoral ministry can be brutal, discouraging work. Pastors find themselves in the midst of terrible situations on a regular basis – divorce, death, apostasy, and much more. It’s also challenging because they don’t see progress in the sense that other jobs do. Christians are always in progress. Because of this, discouragement and depression can be a regular companion of the minister. Pray for your pastor to be encouraged.
Father, please encourage my pastor by the power of your Spirit. Let his soul be refreshed with the love of Christ. Let him have faith for the future. Help him to keep pressing forward even when the way is littered with landmines. Let him be refreshed by the fact that your grace is sufficient for him.
#4 – For Wisdom
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)
Many elements of pastoral ministry are not black and white. A husband and wife are in serious conflict, and the husband has one story while the wife has another. A church member needs financial support but has a history of mismanaged finances. A young man struggles with same-sex attraction while still wanting to follow Jesus. Pastors need God’s wisdom to navigate these gray areas.
Father, please give my pastor your wisdom. Help him know the way to go even when the way is not clear. Give him discernment to know good from evil, even when evil is dressed as good. Help him apply your word to even the most confusing situations.
#5 – For Doctrinal Faithfulness
By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you (2 Timothy 1:14).
Pastors can be tempted to modify or even abandon biblical doctrines for a variety of reasons. Cultural pressures, vocal church members, even legal actions can press hard upon pastors, making them feel that the only way out is to give up the clear teaching of Scripture. They need God’s grace to stay faithful to the good deposit of God’s word.
Father, I pray for my pastor that you would help him hold fast to Scripture, even when everyone else tells him to let go. Help him stand on your word and only your word. Protect him from the temptation to abandon the precious truths laid out in Scripture.
#6 – For A Healthy Body
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Ministry can take a tremendous toll on a pastor’s body. Yes, our bodies are temples, but they are often broken temples. Long nights at the hospital, high-stress situations, and ever-present discouragement can quickly lead to burnout and body betrayal. Not only do pastor’s need spiritual strength, they need physical strength as well. Pray for your pastor that he would be sustained in body and mind.
Father, please give my pastoral supernatural strength. Protect him from sickness and disease. Give him your energy to keep serving faithfully. Help him to find periods of rest and recovery. Guide him to still waters.
#7 – For A Strong Marriage and Family
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church (1 Timothy 3:2-6)
Church history is littered with the skeletons of pastors whose marriages and families fell apart under the strain of pastoral ministry. And as 1 Timothy states, if a pastor can’t manage his family, how can he manage the church of God? Satan loves to sabotage a pastor’s family, and your pastor needs prayer that God will give him a healthy marriage and family.
Father, please give my pastor a supernaturally healthy marriage. Strengthen the bonds between him and his wife. Encourage them both in ministry. Give both of them wisdom to manage their family and to keep you at the center, not ministry. I also pray for their children that you would let them know you and follow you.
#8 – For Meaningful Friendships
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
Pastoral ministry can be surprisingly lonely. Something about being in a position of leadership isolates the man. People look to him to be a teacher and leader, not be their close friend. Pastors need close friends who will encourage them, hold them accountable, and push them toward Christ.
Father, please give my pastor true, deep, sustaining friendships. Give him friends who stick closer than brothers. Who uphold him when he’s weary. Who help carry his burdens.
Sustained By Prayer
In some ways, pastors are sustained by the prayers of their people. Obviously, God is the one who ultimately sustains pastors, but one of his primary means is through the prayers for pastors.
When it comes to why you should pray for your pastor, take the words of Charles Spurgeon to heart:
No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.
Do your pastor a true kindness today. Pray for your pastor.
- 6 Signs Of A Bad Pastor and Spiritual Abuse
- Tapping Into The Sacred, Overwhelming Power of Prayer
- 16 Mighty Prayers For Children God Delights To Answer
- Why Do We Pray? 3 Profound, Staggering, Compelling Reasons
- How Do We Pray Without Ceasing?
The pastor’s role is not easy, and it isn’t one that comes without opposition. As a pastor seeks to feed his flock God’s Word, comfort them when afflicted, protect them from danger, and minister the gospel to their souls, he has a target on his back. The enemy knows that “striking the shepherd will scatter the sheep” (Mark 14:27). Pastors need to be on their guards against the world, the flesh, and the devil which can subtly–or not so subtly–lure them away from serving the God they love.
To stand firm in the ministry and fulfill God’s calling, pastors need to be men of prayer and need the prayers of believers in their congregation. The Apostle Paul asked for prayer several times in his letters, for rescue from unbelievers (Romans 15:30-33), for a bold gospel proclamation (Ephesians 6:19-20), and that the word of the Lord would speed ahead and be honored (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). If Paul needed prayer, your pastor does too!
Praying for your pastor is joining him in ministry. Paul says in his letters, “…strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf…” (Romans 15:30) and “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:11).
Your prayers for your pastor and your church will strengthen the work being done and be a service to him.
If you’re wondering how to pray for your pastor, below are several suggestions from Scripture for the pastor’s personal life, family life, and ministry life. The corresponding Bible verses listed provide a command or additional support on how to pray for pastors.
Pray for Your Pastor’s Personal Life
- For him to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)
- To have a deep delight in the Word of God (Psalm 1:1-3)
- For deep satisfaction in Christ (Psalm 63:5-7)
- For a deep and vibrant prayer life (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- To model the character God mandates for leaders (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)
- That he wouldn’t be greedy, but content and managing money well (Titus 1:7; 1 Timothy 6:6-10)
- That he would watch his life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16)
- To be growing in holiness and in hatred for sin and evil (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Proverbs 8:13)
- To constantly walk by the Spirit and display fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 22-23)
- For him to find his identity first in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- For a transformed and a continually renewed mind (Romans 12:2)
- To display a spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2-3)
- For him to abide in Christ and receive spiritual vitality from Christ (John 15:5)
- That his life would constantly be increasing in faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (2 Peter 1:5-9)
- To be constantly growing in faith and the obedience of faith (Romans 1:4)
- To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8)
- Model a life of faith and true religion that is unpolluted by the world (James 1:27)
- To enjoy adequate and nourishing rest (Matthew 11:28-30)
- Deep relationships with other believers who can hold him accountable (Proverbs 27:17)
- Protection against Satan and his schemes (Ephesians 6:11)
- That he would walk in a manner worthy of the calling he received (Philippians 1:27)
Pray for Your Pastor’s Family Life
- If married, that he would love his wife and cultivate a strong marriage (Ephesians 5:25)
- For him to lead his wife to be respectable, sober-minded, and faithful in all things (1 Timothy 3:11)
- To be a godly, dedicated, and loving father (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
- For his children to grow up in the fear of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4)
- That God would protect their marriage from inside and outside attacks (Ephesians 5:28-33; Ephesians 4:27)
- That his family would be united in ministry and pursuit of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:20-25)
Pray for Your Pastor’s Ministry Life
- For his mouth to be filled with the Spirit’s words in conversation and from the pulpit (1 Corinthians 2:13)
- Faithfulness in preaching the Word and applying it to the congregation (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
- That he would preach Jesus Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23, 2:2)
- That his leadership, vision, and service would be in accords with God’s will (Philippians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 12:11)
- To be respected and well thought of by outsiders (1 Timothy 3:2, 7)
- That he would be a pray-er for the congregation (Ephesians 1:16, 3:14-19)
- To offer wise counsel and comfort to his flock (Colossians 1:28; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Galatians 6:1)
- To teach sound doctrine and rebuke those who oppose it (Titus 1:9, 2:1)
- To be wise in practicing discernment and carrying out church discipline (1 John 4:1; Philippians 1:9-10)
- To diligently work to rightly handle the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
- To be a disciple and a disciple maker who equips other disciple makers
- That he will persevere in ministry and through trials (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5; Galatians 6:9; Romans 5:25)
- That he would be disciplined and a hard worker (Titus 1:8; Col 3:23)
- To protect and shepherd the flock while following the True Shepherd (Ezekiel 34; John 10:11-16)
- To have patience and grace with difficult people (Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:3)
- For him to strengthen the weak, comfort the sick, bring the back the stray, seek the lost (Ezekiel 34:16)
- That your pastor and the church’s governing body would be united with their focus on Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10; John 17:23)
- To be hospitable and create a welcoming atmosphere in the church (Romans 12:13)
- To be a wise administrator and steward (1 Corinthians 12:27-28; Titus 1:8-11)
- For protection from the fear of man (Proverbs 29:25)
- For the church’s protection from Satan (Ephesians 6:12)
- To proclaim the Gospel boldly and clearly (Ephesians 6:19)
- For God to open a door for the gospel (Colossians 4:3)
- For his words to be carefully chosen, gracious, and seasoned with salt (James 3:8; Colossians 4:6)
- A proper alignment of priorities (Matthew 22:37-40)
- That he would avoid gossip, dissention, and unprofitable speech and lead others away from it as well (Ephesians 4:29)
What else should we pray for? Share your prayer ideas in the comment section below.
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 back and footprints up their chest.” 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). When 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 dependant 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 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 a 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.
This particular post may seem a little self serving…but so be it…this needs to be said (AND…I don’t mind asking people to pray for me!) 🙂
This past Thursday (Thanksgiving) I was enjoying some great food and watching a football game when all of a sudden I began receiving text messages about something happening to Matt Chandler, the pastor of The Village Church in Texas. Long story short…Matt passed out, hit his head…was rushed to the hospital and after some tests was diagnosed with a mass on his frontal lobe that will be looked at this week. Matt is a young leader (33 or 34 I believe) whom God’s hand is all over. His preaching/teaching is amazing…and God has used him to grow the Village Church from about 100 or so people to over 7,000 in just a few years. (He is an incredibly gifted preacher/leader!)
Hearing about what happened to him shook me up…BIG TIME. I had VERY few words for the rest of the day as I began to think about the stress and pressure that is on pastors that simply is not understood by many.
My prayer is that things like this will cause the church to rally behind their pastor…and pray for him with more passion and intentionality than ever before. Here are several areas where you can be praying for your pastor…
#1 – His Walk With God – Pray that his relationship with Jesus isn’t one out of obligation…but of OBSESSION for HIM!!! It is VERY tempting for a pastor to read the Bible for sermon prep and NOT to know Jesus. Pray that His relationship with Jesus will be FRESH and that he will be filled with vision and passion like never before.
#2 – His Integrity – It takes YEARS to establish integrity…and it can be destroyed in seconds. Pray for your pastor to keep his eyes on Jesus and OFF of anything that might lead him astray!!!
#3 – His Marriage – Pray that your pastor just doesn’t preach about a healthy marriage…but LIVES it out. I promise you the enemy comes STRONG after his marriage…and his kids!!! Lift up his wife and children by name as well!!!
#4 – His Sanity – He deals with critics, he deals with unrealistic expectations, he deals with accusations, he deals with pressure that is intense. Pray that he will keep his sanity. I recently heard of a survey that said only 10% of the men entering the ministry actually retire…the others either get disqualified OR drop out! That is a 90% failure rate!!! THE STAKES ARE HIGH!!!
#5 – His Health – I was in a meeting of pastors a few years ago…everyone of us were leading large churches…everyone of us were under 35…and over HALF of the men in the room (remember, we were under 35) had been hospitalized in the past two years because of serious medical problems (most likely brought on by stress and anxiety!) Good health is so vital for ministry…and I can promise you that physical, emotional and spiritual health do not just “happen!” Do not assume that just because your pastor is young that he is healthy…lift him up.
Whoever your pastor is…seriously…I would ask that you lift him up. No matter who you are…no matter who your pastor is. I don’t care if you are reading this site and hate me…don’t hate your pastor. Cover him…and pray that Jesus will speak to him and through him in ways that he has never experienced.
Rick Warren once said that he believes pastors are the most underrated changes agents in the world…and I believe that!!! SO…let’s lift him up before God…and pray that Jesus will have HIS way in his life!
AND…keep praying for Matt!!! He is in God’s hands…God has a plan for him…and I know God will receive ultimate glory out of all of this!!!
Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, Greenville and Florence, South Carolina. At just nine years old, the church averages over 10,000 people during weekend services and is launching another campus in Columbia, South Carolina. Perry is convicted about speaking the truth as plainly as possible. A prolific blogger, he’s also the author of Blueprints: How to Build Godly Relationships.