When we think of people in the church who may need prayer, we often think of people struggling through life.
We pray for the single mother fighting to hold things together, the depressed young man unsure and anxious about his future, or the lonely widow who has just lost her husband after decades of being together.
My guess is that your pastor did not figure in your list of people to pray for at church.
Your pastor may not be struggling, but he needs your prayers.
He is the one who lovingly exercises God’s authority. He diligently preaches God’s Word, week after week. He tenderly shepherds you through life. So it might seem strange that you might pray for your pastor.
After all, isn’t it supposed to work the other way around? Isn’t your pastor supposed to pray for you? It is true that your pastor prays for you. But it is equally true and important that you pray for your pastor.
Your Pastor Needs Your Prayers
The apostle Paul, in his many letters to many churches, repeatedly appeals to the saints of God to pray for him and his ministry (Rom. 15:30; Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1).
Paul planted churches throughout the known world both in Asia Minor and in Europe. If he needed the prayers of God’s people, be assured that your local pastor is no different.
As the American Presbyterian pastor, Gardiner Spring (1785-1873) said in an address, “When the churches cease to pray for ministers, ministers will no longer be a blessing to the churches.”
Paul considered those praying for him as partners in ministry (Rom. 15:30). When you pray for your pastor, you are not only ministering to your pastor but also partnering with him in ministry. You are sharing his sacred burdens as you intercede for him.
When the churches cease to pray for ministers, ministers will no longer be a blessing to the churches.
It is an encouragement and a delight for your pastor that you are praying for him. Pray for him and let him know you are praying for him.
In Indian culture, pastors are often idolised. We place them upon a pedestal as gurus and we are always looking up to them. So much so that we often do not see their need for God’s grace. Not surprisingly, we do not pray enough for them.
Your pastor needs your prayers—whether he asks you for it or not.
Here are five ways you can and should be praying for your pastor.
1. Pray for Your Pastor’s Spiritual Walk
The vitality of your pastor’s personal spiritual life directly affects his ability to minister to the congregation.
Do not assume that your pastor is immune to the temptations of sin, the weariness of the flesh, and the distractions of this world.
He is susceptible to every frailty and brokenness that affects men and women in this life. It is vital that his life is nourished by the steady grace of Jesus Christ.
Pray your pastor will find his joy and sufficiency in the justification of Christ alone and not upon the approval of men, or even his own self-estimation.
Offer up prayers that he would not be discouraged by Satan’s accusations of his sins and failures, but trust in the atoning work of Jesus.
Pray he would fall deeper in love with his Lord and Saviour. Ask the Lord to give him greater delight in his spiritual disciplines of grace.
Pray that he works out his salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), confident that he who began the good work will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).
Your pastor needs a constant reminder of the gospel and an ongoing experience of it.
Pray that his life would be one of authentic confession of sin and repentance. It is particularly tempting, in our Indian shame and honour culture, to hide sins and present an ideal self-righteous image of oneself.
Remember that it was Pharisees—the religious leaders of Israel whom Jesus accused of being hypocrites or literally play-acting (Matt. 23:13).
Your pastor needs a constant reminder of the gospel and an ongoing experience of it.
Your pastor can effectively preach God’s grace to sinners only when he himself is experiencing this grace as a sinner.
Therefore, pray for the continuing sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in his life. He needs your prayers to become the holy man God has called him to be.
2. Pray for Your Pastor’s Provisions
Pray for the provision of the health of your pastor in body and mind. Pastors often suffer from exhaustion in the flesh and weariness in the mind due to their work.
He occasionally journeys through the valley of spiritual dryness. Pray that God provides him with the needed rest and rejuvenation.
Sometimes God allows his ministers to endure infirmities of the flesh and mind. Paul suffered from a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7).
Prominent pastors in the history of the church—Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, John Newton, and Charles Spurgeon—suffered from depression.
Pray that God’s grace would be sufficient for your pastor even amidst his afflictions.
The majority of pastors in India do not earn a high salary. They live simple lives and often struggle to make ends meet at home.
Married ministers particularly have the added burden to provide for their families. They are to be stewards who manage their household well (1 Tim. 3:4).
Pray that God, the Good Shepherd, would supply all of your pastor’s needs (Phil. 4:18-19).
3. Pray for Your Pastor’s Relationships
Pray that your pastor would flourish in his relationships. If he is married, pray he would love his wife as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25).
Pray he would lovingly lead his children in gospel submission and dignity (1 Tim. 3:4). Ask the Lord that he would set a godly example of family life for the congregation.
Pray for his family as he leads them in the love of Jesus. The pressures of the public office often take a heavy toll on the pastor’s family. His wife and children have to willy-nilly live their lives in public view.
If your pastor is single, pray he would find great contentment in his relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray that in all relationships, your pastor would seek to speak and act full of the grace and truth of Jesus.
Ask the Lord to give your pastor grace to build and nurture godly friendships within and outside the congregation. Sadly, many pastors unnecessarily lead lonely lives with no true friends.
The nature of pastoral office poses some challenges in building deep friendships within the congregation. Pray he would overcome these challenges where possible. Also, pray that he would forge a close circle of friendships with fellow ministers.
4. Pray for Your Pastor’s Protection
Your pastor is called by God to lead his people. He is entrusted to proclaim the gospel of Jesus which brings salvation to lost sinners. Satan, therefore, rages hard against such men.
Pastors walk with a clear target on their back. Spiritual warfare is a present reality (Eph. 6:12). This is why Paul writes that he is not ignorant of Satan’s evil designs (2 Cor. 2:11).
Satan repeatedly attempts to sully the reputation of Christ’s ministers so he can neutralise their good work. He tempts ministers with scandalous sins so that they will be disgraced by falling into the snare of the devil (1 Tim. 3:7).
Pray your pastor would not be enticed into such grievous and disqualifying sins. Ask the Lord to enable your pastor to stand firm upon the promise of the gospel and resist the seduction of the world and flesh.
Pray that all weapons formed against him and all false accusatory tongues will not prosper (Isa. 54:17). And pray that God will deliver him from all evil (Matt. 6:13).
5. Pray for Your Pastor’s Gospel Ministry
Ministry is difficult. It requires copious amounts of prayer, spiritual maturity, wisdom and selflessness. No matter how experienced and skilled your pastor may be, he will not be fruitful without the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for your pastor through the week as he wrestles with God’s Word in preparing the sermon. Ask the Lord to make his toils fruitful when he preaches on Sunday.
Pray for him to powerfully teach the truth without compromise, displaying the holiness of God’s law, and convicting people of sin.
Ask the Lord to empower him to prophetically point to the grace of God for sinners in the gospel of Jesus. Pray for him to proclaim the glory of God and that “the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honoured” (2 Thess. 3:1).
Pray for him as he administers the sacraments—the means of grace for the nourishment of your soul. It is no small thing to handle these sacred tokens of the gospel.
Pray for him as he disciples members of the church. Ask the Lord to give him gracious and winsome words to speak, and for wisdom to rightly answer each person (Col. 4:6).
Pray that the pastoral counsel he gives would be godly advice and not the opinion of man. And ask the Lord for his ministry to encourage the saints in their walk with the Lord and spur them to greater affection for Jesus Christ.
Praying for your pastor is a sacred ministry. God delights in prayers for his ministers, for when you pray, you fulfil a priestly calling that is true for every follower of Christ (1 Pet. 2:4-5, 9).
You can be confident that your prayers are heard in heaven for the high priest and chief pastor, Jesus Christ, intercedes on behalf of his people (Rom. 8:34, Heb. 7:25).
By Christ’s intercession, prayers are divinely answered with lavish love and generous grace. Therefore, it is a true blessing for your church when you intercede for your pastor before your heavenly Father’s throne of grace.