By Chuck Lawless
In the late 1850s, a global spiritual awakening began when one man in New York City established a noonday prayer meeting and called the city to prayer. Indeed, most awakenings have begun with a few praying people who invite others to join them.
With that historical backdrop in mind, I wonder what might happen if congregations begin to pray the following prayers for church leaders. Would you pray these prayers for church leaders today, and then invite others in your congregation to join you?
1. Pray they will keep their eyes on God.
King Jehoshaphat faced three combined enemy armies, and he did not know what to do – except to lock his eyes on God. That’s the answer any time we have no clue about next steps.
“For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to You.” (2 Chron. 20:12, HCSB)
2. Pray they will not take a step apart from God’s leading.
Moses prayed this prayer when God would send only an angel to lead His people after their fiasco with the golden calf. He would rather the people not start the journey if God Himself were not leading them.
“If Your presence does not go,” Moses responded to Him, “don’t make us go up from here.” (Exod. 33:15)
3. Pray they will beware of relying on their own strength.
David, who knew the Lord is the one who fights for him (1 Sam. 17:47), trusted in his own might when he took a census of the Hebrew armies. Recognizing his sin, he prayed a prayer most leaders need to pray at some point:
“I have sinned greatly in what I’ve done. Now, Lord, because I’ve been very foolish, please take away Your servant’s guilt.” (2 Sam 24:10)
4. Pray they will be wise in leading God’s people.
When Solomon might have asked for much more, he instead asked God to give him a “listening heart” as he governed the people of God. All of us who lead congregations need this wisdom.
“So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kgs. 3:9)
5. Pray they will weep over the sin and failures of God’s people.
In my experience, the best shepherds are those who genuinely grieve the spiritual brokenness of the people they lead. Like Nehemiah when he heard about the damaged walls of Jerusalem, they are themselves broken when they see the results of spiritual decline.
“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Neh. 1:4)
6. Pray they will know when to push away from the crowds to pray.
Ministry is time-consuming, and needs are ever before us. Nevertheless, leaders must have time alone with God to be renewed for the work – just as Jesus did.
“But the news about Him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16)
7. Pray they will walk worthy of their calling.
If we pray more for church leaders today, it’s likely fewer will fall tomorrow. We must pray they walk in obedience and bear fruit, just as Paul prayed for the Colossian believers:
“we haven’t stopped praying for you . . . so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:9-10)
8. Pray they will speak the gospel boldly.
Paul wrote from a prison cell – his punishment for preaching the Word – but still he sought prayer support to continue his evangelizing. If Paul needed such prayer, surely church leaders do today.
“Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” (Eph. 6:19)
9. Pray they will finish well.
Those church leaders who finish well PLAN to do so; that is, they choose from the beginning to stand against the devil and glorify God. Pray that your church leaders can one day echo these words of the Apostle Paul:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7).
What other ways might you pray for church leaders? As a leader, how would you like the readers of this post to pray for you?
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.
By Sandra Higley
1. Pastor – Lord, I lift up my pastor to You. Thank You for his servant’s heart. Keep him from losing heart when ministry gets tough. Help him prove faithful with the things you have entrusted to him. Teach him Your ways so that he knows You and finds favor with You as He leads us. Keep him open and honest before You and help him to represent the truth plainly. (2 Cor. 4:1; 1 Cor. 4:1-3; Ex. 33:13)
2. Elders – Lord, I lift up my elders (church board) to You. Help us respect and honor them as they direct the affairs of our church. May they wholeheartedly give their attention to prayer and ministry of the Word. Keep them above reproach, devoted to their families, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable and able to teach. May they be gentle and honest as they deal with people. (1 Tim. 5:17; Acts 6:4; 1 Tim. 3:1-2; Titus 1:7)
3. Deacons – Lord, I lift up my deacons to You. May they walk worthy of respect with sincere hearts. Keep them from indulgence and greed. Help them keep hold of truth. May they keep short accounts with You so that their conscience is clear. Bless their households with peace and respect. Fill them with Your Spirit and let them operate in wisdom as they carry out their responsibilities. (1 Tim. 3:8-9, 12; Acts 6:3)
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4. Adults – Lord, I lift up the adults in my congregation to You. May we live worthy of Your call on our lives. As we respond to that call, fulfill every purpose, every faith-filled act of service by Your power. May we be clothed in righteousness with hearts that sing for joy and delight greatly in You. We want to walk with You, Jesus, dressed in white, adorned with jewels. (Eph. 4:1; 2 Thes. 1:11; Ps. 132:9; Isa. 61:10; Rev. 3:4)
5. Children/Youth – Lord, I lift up the children and youth in my congregation to You. May the little ones remain humble examples of what we adults need to become in the kingdom. Let their conduct always be pure and right with reputations that show that they remember You, Creator God. Teach them to declare Your marvelous deeds. May they flee evil desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. (Matt. 18:3-4; Prov. 20:11; Eccl. 12:1; Ps. 71:17; 2 Tim. 2:22)
6. Seniors – Lord, I lift up the senior members of our congregation. Thank You for every gray hair attained by righteous living. We are blessed by their example and ability to train us. Help us to be humbly submissive as we benefit from their wisdom and understanding. Help them receive the strength and power You’ve promised to the weary and weak. May they put their hope in You and be renewed in the process. (Prov. 16:31; Titus 2:4; 1 Pet. 5:5; Job 12:12; Isa. 40:29, 31)
7. Lost Among Us – Lord, I lift up the lost members of our congregation. Let the gospel be presented to them not only through the sermon but also with power, the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. Teach us to make the most of every opportunity to share Your salvation. Help us to be the fragrance of Christ to them. We stand against the enemy and his attempts to keep them blinded to Your truth. (1 Thes. 1:5; Col. 4:5; 2 Cor. 2:15; 2 Cor. 4:4)
8. Worship Leaders – Lord, I lift up our worship leaders. Appoint people to this position who understand the splendor of Your holiness and praise You out of that understanding. Help them lead us faithfully in thanks for Your enduring love. Use their praise to defeat the enemy. May they be the true worshipers You are looking for who worship in spirit and in truth. Let them glory only in You, Jesus, so that they put no confidence in their own flesh. (2 Chron. 20:21-22; Jn. 4:23-24; Phil. 3:3)
9. Speakers/Teachers – Lord, I lift up the speakers and teachers in our church. May everyone who holds that position—pastors, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, guest speakers—rightly divide Your word of truth. Let them admonish and teach with wisdom. Reveal the mysteries of Your word to them and encourage them to speak those mysteries courageously and fearlessly. Let them speak with a spirit of faith that springs from their relationship with You. (2 Tim. 2:15; Col. 1:28; Dan. 2:47; Phil. 1:14; 2 Cor. 4:13)
10. Women’s Ministry – Lord, I lift up our Women’s Ministry. Encourage our older women to train the younger in family issues. Teach our women to be virtuous—women with gentle and quiet spirits who put their hope in You. Let this ministry produce women who feel Your passion for them and who choose to spend time at Your feet. Train them to contend for the gospel side by side with the men. (Titus 2:4, 5; Prov. 31:10; 1 Pet. 3:4, 5; Ps. 45:11; Lk. 10:38-42; Phil. 4:3)
11. Men’s Ministry – Lord, I lift up our Men’s Ministry to You. Use this ministry to build our men in their faith. Teach them to be in right relationship to You and each other, to love their wives sacrificially and to instruct their children with patience. Encourage them to hold each other accountable as they carry each other’s burdens. May they speak the truth in love to each other even when it’s hard. (Jude 1:20; Titus 2:2; 1 Tim. 5:1; Eph. 5:25, 6:4; Gal. 6:2; Eph. 4:15; Prov. 27:6)
12. Youth Workers – Lord, I lift up our Youth Workers. Let these young men and women set an example in their speech, life, love, faith and purity. Cause them to be strong, alive-in-the-Word overcomers. Help them to have discernment as they deal with the young people in our church. Help them to notice any youth who lack judgment so they can teach them to value Your life-giving principles. Pour out Your Spirit on them. (1 Tim. 4:12; 1 Jn. 2:14; Prov. 3:21, 7:7, 7:2; Joel 2:28).
13. Behind-the-Scenes Workers – Lord, I lift up the people who work behind the scenes at our church. Thank You for every nursery worker, parking lot attendant, office volunteer, building janitor, etc. who have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. Bless them for the obedience and generosity they have displayed—may You receive praise as a result! Keep them in an attitude of humility that comes from wisdom and wholehearted service to You rather than to be noticed by others. (1 Cor. 16:15; 2 Cor. 9:12-13; Jas. 3:13; Eph. 6:7)
14. Children’s Ministries – Lord, I lift up our children’s ministries to You. Create an atmosphere here that encourages our children to find You. Let the teachers be careful to remind each child of the marvelous things You have done. Cause everything they learn about You to become a part of them forever. May they consistently choose life and blessing each day because of the training they receive in our church. Keep them walking in the truth. (Mk. 10:14; Dt. 4:9; 29:29; 30:19; Prov. 22:6; 3 Jn. 1:4)
15. Prayer Focus – Lord, I lift up the prayer focus in my church. Make us into a house of prayer. We desire to be clear-minded and self-controlled so that we can pray first, always, continually and thankfully. May everyone recognize that this is Your desire for all and not just a few. Use us to stand in the gap for others. Let there be prayer ministry among us that is powerful and effective. (Mk. 11:17; 1 Pet. 4:7; 1 Tim. 2:1; Eph. 6:18; 1 Thes. 5:17; Phil. 4:6; Ps. 32:6; Ezk. 22:30; Jas. 5:16)
16. Spiritual Level – Lord, I lift up the spiritual temperature of my church. Revive us! Refine us so that we burn hot for You. Give us singleness of heart and action so that we always fear You and follow Your precepts. Pour out a spirit of Josiah on us so that we turn to You heart, soul and strength. Open our minds to understand Your Word so that our hearts burn within us. (Ps. 85:6; Rev. 3:14-18; Jer. 32:39; Ps. 111:10; 2 Ki. 23:25; Lk. 24:45, 32)
17. Spirit-Led – Lord, I lift up the issue of our willingness to be led by Your Spirit. Holy Spirit, show us any way we are grieving, quenching or resisting You. Convict us and lead us to level ground. Help us keep in step with You as we live by You. Reign in us so that we experience Your freedom. Lead us into grace, life and peace. (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thes. 5:19; Acts 7:51; Jn. 16:8; Ps. 143:10; Gal. 5:25; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:18; Ro. 8:6)
18. Spiritual Gifts – Lord, I lift up the use of spiritual gifts in our church. We eagerly desire spiritual gifts that You’ve given for our common good. Help us understand the various gifts and how they work. Teach us to use what we’ve received to serve others and faithfully administer Your grace—whatever form that takes. Help us exercise our gifts in love. Remind us to keep fanning into flame the gifts You’ve entrusted to us. (1 Cor. 14:1, 12:4-7; 1 Pet. 4:10; 2 Tim. 1:6)
19. Love/Unity – Lord, I lift up our love for one another as a body. Help us purify ourselves by obeying the truth so that our love for each other will be sincere, deep and from the heart. May our love for one another prove that we are Your disciples. Give us a spirit of unity so that we may glorify You with one heart and voice. Help us accept one another as we clothe ourselves in love. (1 Pet. 1:22; Jn. 13:34-35; Ro. 15:5-7; Col. 3:14)
20. Finances – Lord, I lift up our church finances. May we sow generously into our church without reluctance or compulsion. Make all grace abound so we have all we need for every good work You’ve assigned us. Make us rich in ways that result in generosity on our part so You will be praised. Keep reminding us of your promise to throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out blessing on all who bring the whole tithe into Your house. (2 Cor. 9:6-11; Mal. 3:10)
21. Outreach/Missions Projects – Lord, I lift up our outreach programs. Remind us to do good and share with others as a pleasing sacrifice to You. Keep us outwardly focused so we don’t become self-absorbed. Help us teach one another to be faithful ministers of Your Son. Enable us to meet people wherever they have a need. Help us minister faithfully as we proclaim the gospel so that the ones we reach might become an acceptable offering to You. (Heb. 13:16; Phil. 2:4; Col. 1:7; Jude 1:23)
22. Single Parents – Lord, I lift up the single parents in our church. May they know You as father to the fatherless and defender of widows! Let us be a real family to them when they are lonely. Show us ways to include them and minister grace to them. Stir up practical ideas in us that show Your love and care. Help them relax in Your grace and provision which is more than enough for every weakness and need. (Ps. 68:5-6, 25:16; Matt. 25:35-40; 2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 4:19)
23. Help for the Hurting – Lord, I lift up those who are hurting right now. May they come to know You as El Roi, the God who sees them. For every situation of rejection, help them feel sonship. Bind up the brokenhearted! In every area of bondage, set the captives free; in every case of mourning, replace it with Your oil of gladness. Comfort them so that they will have a ministry of comfort to others. (Gen. 16:13; Ro. 8:15; Isa. 61:1-3; 2 Cor. 1:3-4)
24. Freedom from Besetting Sins – Lord, I lift up every one of us who struggle with sin issues. Keep us from the enemy’s scheme of condemnation. Grant us repentance so that we can escape the trap of the evil one. Thank You that sin was done away with on the cross and that we are no longer slaves to it. Help us to throw off everything that entangles—help us run the race with perseverance. (Ro. 8:1; 2 Tim. 2:25, 26; Ro. 6:6; Heb. 12:1)
25. Kingdom Focus/Priorities – Lord, I lift up our priorities as a congregation. Give us ears to hear what Your Spirit is saying to our church. Open our eyes to see things as You see them. Help us move beyond issues of immediate need to pursuing Kingdom issues. Bring us to a place where “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is more than just words we say. (Rev. 3:22; 2 Ki. 6:17; Matt. 6:25, 33, 10)
26. Growth through Evangelism – Lord, I lift up our church growth to You. Add to our number daily through new converts. Birth spiritual children through us. Let our actions win people over without words. Use us as Your agents to rescue people from darkness and bring them into Your Son’s kingdom. We long to be worthy ambassadors in this ministry You have entrusted to us: that of proclaiming Your message of reconciliation to a lost world. (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Pet. 3:1-2; Col. 1:13; 2 Cor. 5:20)
27. Our Neighborhood – Lord, I lift up our community, especially the surrounding neighborhood. Let us love these people as we love ourselves. May our concern for their needs override other things that take our time and focus. Rebuild and restore areas that have been devastated. Renew our community—send Your peace and prosperity into this place where You’ve planted us. Bless each individual home and family. Build each house from the inside out; watch over our city. (Gal. 5:14; Prov. 3:28; Isa. 61:4; Jer. 29:7; Lk. 10:5-6; Ps. 127:1)
28. Connectivity with the Church in Our City – Lord, I lift up the Church in our city. Thank You for creating the body as one unit made up of many parts. Help us understand the value of each part as You have arranged them. We confess that we’ve minimized other parts. Forgive us, for we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body. Help us to work at being one: concerned about one another—suffering with and rejoicing with other congregations as appropriate. (1 Cor. 12:12-26)
29. Connectivity with the Church in Our Nation – Lord, I lift up the Church in our nation. We humbly unite and confess as one people—one Church called by Your name—that we have sinned. We’ve operated out of acquired wealth thinking we could do it on our own—but we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. We seek Your face, O God! Thank You for hearing and forgiving us. We wait on You for the healing of our land! (2 Chron. 7:14; Rev. 3:17)
30. Connectivity with the Church around the World – Lord, I lift up the Church universal. Father, we claim the power of Your name over us so that we will be one, as You and Your Son are one. We want Your joy in full measure just as Your Son, Jesus, prayed for us. Help us live as though we are not of this world; sanctify us by Your word. May we be brought to complete unity so that the world will know the truth of the gospel. (Jn. 17:11-23)
31. Protection from the Enemy – Lord, I lift up our need for protection. Protect and deliver us from the evil one. Help us be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves as we deal with the wolves around us. Show us how to test every spirit to see if they are from You. Help us recognize the enemy’s disguises and schemes so that he won’t outwit us. (Jn. 17:15; Matt. 6:13, 10:14; 1 Jn. 4:1; 2 Cor. 11:14, 2:11)
–Written by Sandra Higley when she was the director of member relations for the Church Prayer Leaders Network. Sandra is currently the editor of Real Life Downloads from David C. Cook Publishers.
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