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. 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.
#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 of 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.
Rev isn’t pastoring a congregation at the moment, but he has in the past. We know what it’s like to lead a group of people with varying personalities and opinions.
We know what it’s like to have someone threaten to leave for exactly the opposite reasons that someone else is threatening to leave. If you’re in leadership you know that it’s impossible to make everyone happy, and you may even feel like you’re gifted at making everyone unhappy.
Many pastor’s families struggle with:
- living in a fishbowl.
- conflict between members.
- criticism of their efforts.
- financial challenges.
- unrealistic expectations.
- balancing family and ministry.
- distance from extended family.
While most don’t have to cope with everything on this list; every pastor’s family will have to deal with some of them.
Imagine yourself with hundreds of bosses. Why? Because with every contribution there is an unwritten belief that the giver has the “right” to tell the pastor how to do his job.
Pastor’s wives and their children are under constant scrutiny. Sometimes they know how they are being criticized more often they are just being talked about family to family. Pastor’s families also receive complaints about their husband and father. How would you feel if your husband’s coworkers came to you when they were unhappy with him.
But he’s faithful because he loves the Lord, he’s following his calling, and he loves you.
Pray for your Pastor and his Family.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children . . . Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:11-12, 14, 15-16
Please pray that your pastor and his family will:
1. Receive the encouragement they need.
2. Feel loved and appreciated. 3. Get the rest they need with time to enjoy each other and have fun. 4. Receive the help they need to carry out their calling. 5. Be blessed with God’s provision and protection as they serve others. 6. Love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. 7. Boldly share the truth of God’s love shown through Jesus. 8. Be blessed with strong supportive friendships. 9, Remain tender-hearted when criticized. 10. Be blessed with wisdom and strength.
Please pray that your pastor will:
11. Boldly preach the truth of God’s Word with Holy Spirit wisdom.
12. Have a passion for God’s Word and prayer, and that he will encourage the same in others.
There’s an old saying . . . if you want to get rid of your pastor, compliment him – he’ll work himself to death.
Your pastor is trying hard. He’s doing his best, but he’s human just like you with weaknesses and flaws. His family, well they’re human too. They need you.
Love them the way you want them to love you.
One final note – our family has been blessed at every congregation with many wonderful people who have loved and encouraged us and made it very easy to love them. A huge thank-you to each and every one.
I wrote this referring to pastors in the masculine, not to make a political statement but because that is the perspective with which I’m familiar.
Let you pastors know you’re praying . . . it will bless them.
If you are a pastor’s wife looking for a place to share your journey with others who are able to relate and understand your ministry responsibilities . . . please contact me by leaving a comment here, on the CMB Facebook page, or email me at: [email protected] We have a Facebook group where we encourage each other through friendship and prayer. Let me know if you’re interested. We would love to hear from you.
by Sandra (Rainsville, AL)
I ask for healing for my pastor. He is only 56 years old and has a heart disease and the doctors have told him there is nothing else they can do for him. He has such a passion for his church family and the lost and has so much more work he wants to do for you.
His wife needs him so much for reasons I won’t disclose but I don’t know what she will do without him. I know you are the ultimate physician and I have no doubt that you can heal his heart. I believe in the power of prayer and even though it might not be your will to heal him, you tell us to pray boldly and you will hear our prayers, so I am praying boldly that you will heal his heart and let him continue to bless your people in our church. He is loved so dearly but chooses not to tell the congregation at this time about this so we have to pray about it in private and it breaks my heart.
If he could only see how much we all love him and that he needs to let his people pray for him, Lord I ask on behalf of all the people that I know would be praying for him if they only knew. Please reach down and touch him and heal him because right now he refuses to do what the doctors have told him, which is to do nothing, but he is still out there teaching and preaching because I think he had rather die in the pulpit preaching your word than to step down and give up.
I believe that you hear our prayers and I pray with all my heart that it will be your will to heal him because we need him. He not only is a rock for his wife, but he is our rock in the church too. He loves you so much and we love him so much. I ask with hope and confidence that he will be healed, in Your holy name.
Return to 7 Daily Prayers to Get You Through The Week
I recently wrote an article that posed one simple question: Why do so many pastors leave the ministry? In just a short time, it gathered quite a bit of feedback – both positive and negative – but, more importantly, it has opened up a fantastic dialogue.
One commenter shared his story: “I served as the pastor of only one church but my ministry there spanned over twenty-one years. My tenure was definitely successful based, of course, on the current ministry definition of success. The church grew in attendance over 600%, purchased over 20 acres of property, and built a new building completely – all completely debt free. When I came to the church, I envisioned that I would retire there. Today, I am out of the ministry and, at least at this point, out of church as well. What happened? I can only say that the tremendous growth placed tremendous demands on me, stretching me thinner and thinner until, at last, I broke. It’s been over a year since I left and I still struggle with the entire religious machine that has become the church.”
Another wrote, “We need to do a better job as churches in caring for pastors and their spouses.”
The article spurred on an array of follow-up questions like:
How can we change these statistics?
What are denominations currently doing to support pastors and the ones on their way out?
Why aren’t these things talked about in seminaries and bible colleges?
What can I do? How can we can pray for our pastors?
It seems we have more questions than answers. And rightfully so. We are losing too many pastors. They are overworked, underpaid, and unprepared. They’re lonely. They struggle with depression and discouragement and their families are falling apart. And it appears that nothing is being done, at least from a broad stroke perspective, about the mass exodus.
While we’re waiting to find the answers to these questions, I think it’s equally important to shift our focus and seek God through prayer. Another commenter said, “I believe the key to a successful ministry is to have a strong support system already in place to allow the power of prayer to work its miracles.”
Andrew Bonar, author and minister, once wrote: “O brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper–and sleep too–than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgin slumbers.”
Using my previous article as a springboard, here is how I urge you to pray:
Many pastors are overworked.
Pray that the stress of being overwhelmed, overcommitted, overbusy, and under-appreciated doesn’t get in the way of their calling and cause destruction in their families. Pray that God would provide workers, volunteers and elders, to come alongside your pastor and assist in continuing the work of God. John 14:1, Acts 6:2-4
Many pastors feel unprepared.
Pray that your pastor would be given the knowledge to counsel and mentor, the wisdom to confront when necessary, and discernment when seeking God’s leading and direction for the church. In particular, pray (Isaiah 11:2 NLT) that “the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, and the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”
Many pastors struggle with depression and discouragement.
Pray that the pressures of your pastor and their families would be relieved, that encouragement would reign in their lives, and that your church would be a community that offers unconditional grace and unrestricted forgiveness. Rom. 15:4-6, 2 Thess. 2:16-17
Many pastor’s families are negatively impacted.
Pray for solid, joyful, Christ-exalting marriages. Pray that church leadership would recognize and provide for your pastor’s family – for their personal, spiritual, and physical needs, so that they won’t be distracted from the ministry God has called them to. Acts 12:5, 1 Timothy 5:17,18
Many pastors are lonely.
Pray that your pastor would establish a handful of close friendships with godly men. Pray for one close friendship in which he could be fully transparent and spiritually accountable in all areas of life and ministry.
There are many (so many more than are listed here) ways we should be praying for our pastoral staff – for joy, discipline, accountability and integrity, among others. John Piper, Will Bruce, and Nicholas Batzig have written some great articles on praying for pastors and pastoral staff. My friend, Tim Challies, has gathered a list of articles on how to pray for pastors and staff. I encourage you to check those out as well.
Pastors are not exempt from the dangers and temptations that each of us face and they need our prayers just as much as we need theirs. As we move toward answering some of these unanswered questions, I encourage you to start with prayer. Because if all else seems impossible, prayer is the one thing we can turn to.
In what other areas can we can pray for our pastor?
Photo courtesy: Greg Shield