I bet your pastor prays for you, but have you ever thought how to pray for your pastor? The apostle Paul often asked people to pray for him. “I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me” (Romans 15:30). Here are a few ways you can join your pastor by praying for him.
Your pastor’s entire ministry hinges on his walk with God. Satan would love to make your pastor so busy that he doesn’t take time to be with the Father. Pray that your pastor would make time for intimacy with God through Jesus while depending on the Holy Spirit. Plead with God on his behalf that your pastor might make prayer his first priority. Ask God to draw him into scripture for the nourishment of his own soul before he spends any time in study for preaching. Pray that the church would see these priorities and give your pastor time with God through regular Sabbath rest, prayer retreats, or an extended sabbatical.
Whether from an internal drivenness or from the expectations of the congregation, the demands of pastoral ministry can push a pastor to find his identity in the work rather than in Christ. Pray that your pastor would know who he is in Jesus – that this identity in Christ would be the source of all his ministry. Use Romans 8 to pray the love of God over your pastor. Ask God to so fill your pastor with the beauty of Christ that he feels the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love.
Pray for your pastor’s body and mind. Stephen Altrogge says, “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 pastors need spiritual strength,
Your pastor’s joy is good for your church. Pray that your church would be a source of joy rather than frustration (Hebrews 13:17). Ask God to fill your pastor with the joy of his salvation by inspiring people to speak the gospel back to him. (Sometimes a pastor needs to be reminded that Jesus died for him too.) Pray that your pastor would be so filled with joy that it fills not only his preaching but his whole personality.
Pray for your pastor to be filled with courage in the face discouragement, criticism, disagreement, or anything else that Satan could use to distract him from his calling. Ask God to give him a clear vision for ministry and the wisdom to implement it. Intercede for your whole church by asking that the Elders (or church board) would encourage your pastor regularly.
Pastors often leave churches because of a critical few instead of seeing the overwhelming support of the many. Pray that your church would show their support and that God would raise up key people to help your pastor when he struggles. Too often churches wait until the pastor leaves to show him how much he means. Pray that God would inspire people to show their support in tangible ways – something that the pastor can look at when he gets discouraged.
Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I was keenly aware that my parents were struggling because of ministry. I watched my mother stress over the expectations of people in the church. I saw the sorrow on my father’s face for days after church conflicts. Being in a pastor’s family taught me that the church hurts pastors and their families. It also taught me how to love the church in spite of the pain. Pray for your pastor’s wife and kids. They often feel isolated because people treat them differently.
According to The State of Pastors, an extensive study done in 2017 by the Barna Group, pastors (especially those in Generation X) are more likely to feel lonely and isolated from others. The study says that a lack of healthy, spiritually supportive friendships correlates to greater risk of spiritual and relational burnout. It’s hard to discern which is the cause: do they burn out because they lack friends, or do they struggle in friendships because they are burned out? Either way, pastors often wish they had more close friendships. Pray that God would provide someone who is safe and with whom your pastor can be open about his struggles. Ideally this would be the elders in the church, but they are often the last people a pastor feels safe with.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). I wonder how many pastors struggle in evangelism because their churches aren’t praying for them. In many cases, it’s the culture of the church that hurts their gospel witness. Thom Rainer agrees: “Pastors are energized when they have the opportunity to share the gospel. Unfortunately, many of them are too busy to take time to do so. The demands of the church are just too great. These pastors live lives of inverted priorities and frustrating days.” Pray that your pastor would have opportunities to share the gospel, wisdom to see those opportunities, boldness to use them, and clear words provided by the Holy Spirit.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” Colossians 4:2-4
If you want to develop a habit of praying for your pastor, try this 30 Day Challenge.