I was running around Sunday morning between services talking with people and putting out fires when a staff member handed me an envelope and said, “Someone left this for you.”
I have done this long enough to know that if someone drops off a letter to you before a service, it could be an encouraging note or it could be an anonymous letter telling you that you don’t do things right as a pastor. Thankfully, I don’t get the latter anymore (I actually only ever got a couple, but I’m pretty sure they have new pastors to write anonymous letters to now), but I was still gun-shy.
After the service, I opened up the letter and realized it was anonymous after all. But I did some searching to find that it was a dear senior adult sister in Christ who had penned a prayer for me and had words of encouragement for my family and my ministry. On that Saturday morning – just a day earlier, she had been talking to God on my behalf. I don’t think I can tell you how encouraging that was to realize! Conviction came over me as I expected the worst when I should have realized how God is working in our church!
To know that someone had been praying for me brought such encouragement and hope to me that day.
As a pastor, you often pray for others and rarely share how others can pray for you.
Some of the time, that is pride. We just don’t like to admit we are weak.
In other instances, I think most people assume that a pastor is so spiritual that they don’t need prayer so they share everything they are in need of.
Can I confess something to you? Pastors need your prayers. Your churches need your prayers.
If you have ever wondered how to pray for your church or your pastor(s), let me show you a technique that I use from God’s Word.
Pray for Your Church
In Acts 2:42-47, Luke provides a descriptive portion of Scripture that helps us get a picture of what the early church looked like.
As you read the passage below, notice key phrases that describe what the church did.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.
What a wonderful description! I want this to be said of our congregation! So that is what I pray for. I go through each verse and pray those descriptions over our church. It helps me from general phrases and trite sayings.
- “Lord, would you put a desire in the people of North Side that they would be devoted to biblical teaching? Give them a hunger for it.”
- “Jesus, our people don’t know how bad they need each other. Could you help us understand the need of spending time together in genuine fellowship? I pray that relationships would be formed as they have meals together and pray together.”
- “Lord, we want to see things that only you can get the credit for. Do a work in our midst that reminds of us how powerful you are. Cause us to live in awe of you!”
And that is just through the first two verses! If I continue, I’ve got so many things to pray about for our congregation that I never would have thought through on my own. That’s why Scripture is so important for our prayers (John 15:7).
Spend some time praying over your church. Pray that those descriptions could be true of your own church.
Pray for Your Pastor
In addition to praying for your church as a whole, it is also very important to pray for your pastor(s). These servants, called by God, will experience a stricter level of judgment (James 3:1) since they watch over your soul and will one day have to give an account (Heb. 13:17) for how they shepherded you (1 Pet. 5:2) and cared for you (Acts 20:28).
1 Timothy 3 provides a list of qualities that pastors should possess. Read over this section and reflect upon the high expectation that God has concerning the role of a pastor.
2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible,respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3 not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy— 4 one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.
As you read this section, you may have a sense of overwhelming gratitude due to the integrity of your spiritual leadership.
Some might be reading this passage and feel like it exposes some weak areas in your pastor’s life.
Instead of using this exercise as a cause to create distrust or disillusionment, use it as a guide for prayer. Your pastor is called to a high standard but he isn’t perfect.
Use this Scripture to pray that these characteristics would be prevalent in your pastor’s life.
- “Dear God, help our pastor live a life above reproach…”
- “Lord, the demands of ministry can be so tough. Can you create a margin for pastor and his wife to be strengthened in their own marriage?”
- And so on and so on.
You will never know how much good you could do by praying for your church and your pastor! And after you have done it, you have no idea how much you would encourage your pastor by telling him – “I prayed for you this morning! I am thankful for you! Anything specifically that I could pray about?”
I hope these ideas help you – they have transformed the way I have prayed!