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5 Ways To Pray For Your Pastor (And Why You Need To)

I have to admit that I never used to think about the importance of praying for my Pastor.

I was taught that he was sort of like a "Super Christian" who didn't need my prayers given his already "cushy" status with the Lord. Boy was I wrong!

One of the things I've loved about becoming a Confessional Lutheran is learning about the Office of The Holy Ministry and how it's truly a divine calling from God as opposed to just being another job (as if the Pastor were the CEO of the church or something).

Anyway, with that in mind, here's a great reminder for us in the Body of Christ from Ligonier Ministries. Contrary to what some might suppose, ministers of the Gospel desperately need the prayers of the saints.

R.C. Sproul notes how one Seminary Professor used to tell the student body, “Pastors have a bull’s eye on their back and footprints up their chest.” This is quite an appropriate description of the hardships that God’s servants are called to endure for the sake of the Gospel.

I mean, just think about it for a minute. The flaming arrows of the evil one are persistently being shot at Pastors. In addition, the world is very eager to run them over at any opportunity. This is, sadly, also a reality with regard to some in the church.

With so much opposition and difficulty within and without, Pastors constantly need the people of God to be praying for them. The under-shepherd needs the prayers of the sheep as much as they need his prayers. He also is one of Christ’s sheep, and is susceptible to the same weaknesses as we are.

While there are many things one could pray for pastors, here are 5 straightforward Scriptural categories for us to take note of...

1. Pray for their spiritual protection from the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

Whether it was Moses’ sinful anger leading to his striking of the rock (Numbers 20:7-12), David’s adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11), or Simon Peter’s denial of the Lord (Matthew 26:69-75) and practical denial of justification by faith alone (Galatians 2:11-21), ministers are faced with the reality of the weakness of the flesh, the assaults of the world and the rage of the devil. There have been a plethora of ministers who have fallen into sinful practices in the history of the church and so brought disgrace to the name of Christ. Since Satan has ministers of the gospel (and their families) locked in his sight -- and since God’s honor is at stake in a heightened sense with any public ministry of the word, members of the church should pray that their pastor and their pastor’s family would not fall prey to the world, the flesh, or the Devil.

2. Pray for their deliverance from the physical attacks of the world and the Devil.

While under prison guard in Rome, the apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Philippi to pray for his release when he wrote, “I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:19). (See also 2 Corinthians 1:9-11). When Herod imprisoned Simon Peter we learn that “constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12:5). After an exodus-like deliverance from prison, Luke tells us that Peter showed up at the home where the disciples were continuing to pray for his deliverance. This is yet another example of the minister being delivered from harm due, in part, to the prayers of the saints.

3. Pray for doors to be opened to them for the spread of the gospel.

In his letter to the Colossians Paul asked the church to be praying “that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains” (Colossians 4:3). The success of the spread of the gospel is dependent in part on the prayers of the people of God. In this way, the church shares in the gospel ministry with the pastor. Though he is not the only one in the body who is called to spread the word, he has a unique calling to “do the work of an evangelist.” The saints help him fulfill this work by praying that the Lord would open doors “for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ.”

4. Pray that they might have boldness and power to preach the gospel.

In addition to praying for open doors for the ministry of the word, the people of God should pray that ministers would have Spirit-wrought boldness. When writing to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul asked them to pray for him “that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). There is a well-known story of several college students going to visit the Metropolitan Tabernacle in order to hear Charles Spurgeon preach. As the story goes, Spurgeon met them at the door and offered to show them around. At one point he asked if they wanted to see the church’s heater plant (boiler room). He took them downstairs where they saw hundreds of people praying for God’s blessings on the service and on Spurgeon’s preaching. The gathering of the people of God to pray for the ministry of the word is what he called “the heating plant!” Believers can help ministers by praying that they would be given boldness and power in preaching the Gospel.

5. Pray that they might have a spirit of wisdom and understanding.

One of the most pressing needs for a minister of the Gospel is that he would be given the necessary wisdom to counsel, to know when to confront, to mediate and to discern the particular pastoral needs of a congregation. This is an all-encompassing and a recurring need. The minister is daily faced with particular challenges for which he desperately needs the wisdom of Christ. It is said of Jesus that “the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge, and of counsel and might” was upon Him (Isaiah 11:2). The servants of Christ need that same Spirit. Much harm is done to the church as a whole if the minister does not proceed with the wisdom commensurate to the challenges with which he is faced. Those who benefit from this wisdom can help the minister by calling down this divine blessing from heaven upon him.

I hope all of that is consistent with our Lutheran faith (if not, then please let me know ASAP). Personally, I found them to be excellent reminders for us though.

There's another list that's worth sharing here and one I found from a distinctly Lutheran source...

Pastors, thank you. The cross is for you as well.

I’m just a layperson. I’m an elementary music teacher. I’m not a pastor. Take this as you will.

Seems as of late that a lot of good pastors have been under fire. Under fire from those in their congregations, under fire from those within their districts, under fire from their own synods, associations and conventions. Sure, it’s not like these guys haven’t made mistakes along the way, some of them have made some doosies. Some have been flat out wrong. However, the condemnation seems to be consistently boiled into into this single phrase, “It’s all your fault.”

“It’s your fault the church isn’t growing.” “It’s your fault that there’s dissension.” “It’s your fault the youth aren’t coming anymore.” “It’s your fault that people are leaving.” “It’s your fault that things are in financial upheaval.” “It’s all your fault.”

Here’s the flipside to those coins of accusations: “It’s your fault the church isn’t growing because you refuse to buy into a trendy program to attract people.” “It’s your fault that there’s dissension in the church because you spend too much time preaching about sin and not enough time about things we can do to feel better about our walk with God.” “It’s your fault that people are leaving because you think sound theology is more important than being loving to everyone.” “It’s your fault that things are in financial upheaval because your sermons don’t make people feel good about themselves, saying they’re helpless without Christ.” “It’s all your fault, pastor, because it’s not the way I think it should be.”

In many cases, this is what happens when a pastor faithfully preaches and teaches this: Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins. (And as well within different contexts, emphasizing the sacraments.) That’s right pastors, if this is what you’ve been doing, it is your fault. It’s your fault that you did you job. It’s your fault that by God’s grace you were true to your calling. Shame on you for holding to scripture more than the feelings of man. Shame on you for speaking against false doctrine that’s been creeping into your church. Shame on you for being “un-loving” and putting your foot down and saying “No, this is contrary to the Word of God.”

To all the unloving pastors, who have been proclaiming Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins, and rightly administering the sacraments, I say this: Thank you.

Thank you for not buying into trendy programs, knowing that once that starts, our congregations will never be free of them. Thank you for bringing down the full weight of the Law, afflicting us in the security of our sin, and then rushing in with the healing salve of the Gospel, that because of Christ my sin is forgiven. Thank you for teaching us sound theology, being more concerned about us than about how we may lash out against you. Thank you for speaking out against false doctrines that have been creeping into our churches, protecting us from the wolves. Thank you for showing us our helplessness without Christ, point to the cross that we may rely on Him. Thank you for risking it all each week. The friendships, security and your reputations, that we might know Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins.

Like children we will often get mad and not understand in the tough moments why it is that you refuse to compromise. However for many of us, we usually do understand in the end. So thank you, faithful pastors, who endure more trials than many of us, for simply doing what you were called to do. And while it’s our fault many times that you are over-worked, over-stressed, disenheartened and barely breathing at the end of the day, know this: Pastors, thank you. That same comfort of the Cross that you bring to us diligently when things come crashing down around us, that same comfort of the Cross is for you as well.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

Ultimately, I'm also reminded of what LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison said in an interview following the LCMS Convention back in August 2013...

Pray for your pastor. And when Jesus says, "Pray the Lord of the harvest send workers," that starts with praying for your pastor. And pastors, pray for your people. That also includes our seminaries and our missionaries. I would ask that people pray that the church continue to grow in strength, faith and unity and that we patiently love one another as we work through those challenges that we face internally.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, pray for each other...and especially for your Pastor.

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Finally, you might discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. I decided to leave those published posts up only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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