Back at the end of February Stephen Altrogge wrote a very helpful post titled, ‘The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Pastor.’ In it he reminded us of the truth of 2 Corinthians 1.11:
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
If the apostle Paul and his apostolic band needed prayer (and ‘the prayers of many’ at that!), then certainly ordinary pastors like me need prayer. Stephen then offered these practical tips on how to pray for your pastor, which I very much appreciated:
- Pray that they will have spiritual and emotional endurance. Being a pastor is a wonderful job, but it can also be a very draining job. I need endurance to continue working with joy.
- Pray that they will have rich fellowship with the Lord. The pastor’s power comes from the Lord. I need God to meet me and refresh week after week.
- Pray that your pastor will be protected from temptation. If Satan can take down a shepherd, the sheep are much more vulnerable. I need the Lord to protect me from the temptations of pride, greed, lust, impatience, and a host of other sins.
- Pray that your pastor will preach with power. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, a sermon will be nothing more than an eloquent boatload of hoogly. I need the Holy Spirit to put power behind my words.
In this post I just wanted to take a moment to expand on Stephen’s last point about praying for the pastor’s preaching. In our home we pray as a family for the preacher on Saturday nights in particular. Typically if it is one of the children praying, the prayer amounts to ‘Please help Daddy to preach well’ and sometimes not much more. That’s fine if it’s a four year-old praying, but it strikes me that a lot of people who have never preached simply don’t know how to pray for their pastor much better than that.
So here are some ideas on how to pray for your pastor through the week as he prepares for Sunday. And in typical preacher fashion, they’re even alliterated.
- Clarity. Your pastor is going to tell you what God says. The stakes are simply too high for him to get this wrong. Please pray for him, that he would be able to clearly discern what God’s word said to its original audience so that he can clearly communicate that same message to you. If you want to understand the text, pray for your pastor to have clarity.
- Conviction. Even if your pastor understands the word with clarity, there is no way that it will affect his heart apart from a work of the Spirit. Any conviction he feels apart from the Spirit’s work will be self-righteous and harsh; any lack of conviction because the Spirit does not work will result in a boring, lifeless sermon. If you want to feel the text, pray for your pastor to have conviction.
- Compassion. Jesus taught the crowds because he had compassion and people became part of his flock. Pastors are called to be undershepherds like the Chief Shepherd. If we don’t have the Spirit of Christ giving us the heart of Christ for the people of Christ, we will be too harsh or too soft. If we don’t have compassion we will either hide the truth or hit people with it. If you want to know the heart of Jesus in the text, pray for your pastor to have compassion.
- Creativity. Jesus taught in open fields with gripping parables. Paul engaged the philosophers with eloquent reason. Your pastor is a man who is called to explain the majestic wisdom of God to people every single week. It is hard to be creative week in and week out. He needs grace to communicate truth in a way that helps people engage. If you want to be gripped by the text, pray for your pastor to have creativity.
So for your own sake, for the sake of your church, for the sake of your pastor, and for the sake of the glory of God revealed in the gospel your pastor proclaims: Please pray for your pastor this week.