By Joe McKeever
People who pray for their pastors usually say they ask the Lord to bless sermon preparation—and for good reason. The Sunday sermon is the best opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of the most people.
Yet there are many other reasons to intercede on behalf of the shepherds of the Lord’s congregation. Here are 10 reasons to be in prayer for your pastor.
1. Pastors live in a world of unfinished tasks. When they lie down at night, there are phone calls that should have been returned, sermons that need to be prepared, office work left undone and administrative things unfinished, church members who are expecting a visit, and problems that needed attention last week. If pastors cannot turn these off at the end of the day, they will not last in the ministry.
Pray for pastors to be able to shut off the ministry engine at night and sleep. Pray for rest.
2. Pastors’ home lives are as demanding and as needful as yours. Yet each member of their constituency (i.e., church members) wants them there at their significant times. Finding the balance between home life and the church’s needs is a recipe for unending stress and conflict.
Pray for the Lord to give pastors courage in making these choices. Pray for wisdom.
3. Pastors wage a constant battle for health. Everywhere they go, food is served. Often a separate table is loaded with desserts, all prepared by the best cooks on the planet, each of whom will be disappointed if the preacher doesn’t take a generous helping of theirs. And for pastors who love to walk or jog, erratic schedules make staying with the program difficult. Obesity has aborted the ministry (and shortened the lives) of many a faithful soldier of the Lord.
Pray for discipline to guard their health. Pray for determination.
4. Pastors lead teams of other ministers and lay leaders. They struggle to know when a colleague needs the soft hand of comfort and encouragement and when a strong guiding hand (or swift kick) would be in order—whether to take the staffer to the woodshed or to lunch.
Pray the Lord will show pastors how to help the team. Pray for sensitivity.
5. Pastors continue to minister to members who dislike them and are even conspiring against them. When a family that has been critical has a sudden crisis, pastors do not have the luxury to let their carnal nature call the shots. They get in the car, drive to the house, and do everything possible to minister to the family in the name of Jesus. In some cases, this very kindness turns hearts and minds around.
Pray the Lord to enable pastors to minister to everyone, regardless of attitude. Pray for the Holy Spirit to rule in their lives.
6. Pastors stand in the pulpit and deliver Christ’s message to everyone in love, with power, by hope. Sooner or later, many pastors will have to lead worship services immediately after being raked over the coals or even fired. They have to turn off the personal stuff, try not to be discouraged by the harsh looks or bad news, and preach the message of Christ. In the flesh, this is all but impossible.
Pray for pastors to abide in Christ at all times and to keep their eyes on Him. Pray for focus.
7. Pastors try to set an example in their giving, even when the salary is inadequate. Pastors and their families sometimes go without necessities to be faithful to the Lord in tithing and giving to special needs. They trust Him to meet their needs, believing He will keep His promises. Even though almost no one will know the amount they gave, the Lord will know. And they will know.
Pray the church will adequately compensate the ministers and that leaders will continuously monitor the church’s responsibility to obey God’s Word, which says, “The worker is worthy of his wages” (I Timothy 5:18). Pray for the church to be faithful and even generous.
8. Pastors want to build their libraries, but without spending too much of the family’s income on books. It’s a constant struggle.
Pray the church will provide money for the pastor’s continuing education.
9. Pastors want the church to grow, to reach the lost, to increase the finances, but without manipulation. Many a pastor has succumbed to the temptation to lay guilt trips on the congregation in order to coerce members into doing what they should be doing naturally and easily.
Pray for a spirit of love and faith.
10. Pastors want church members to like them, yet they must not strive to do things just to please the crowd. Paul said, “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Pastors must not seek to curry favor with the people they’ve been called to serve. They should present themselves to the congregation as “your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).
Pray for pastors to be obedient to the Lord, no matter the cost.
Pastor and author Warren Wiersbe likes to say there should be another Beatitude: “Blessed are the balanced.”
Pray that your pastors will find their balance and guard it.
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