Friday, August 1, 2014
How to Pray for Your Pastor
Do you remember the story of Moses, recorded in Exodus 17:8-13, when Joshua went to battle against the Amalekites? Moses promised to stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in his hands. The battle began, with Joshua's men fighting Amalek's army. As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Joshua would start winning the battle, but when he became tired and lowered his hands Amalek would start winning. Seeing the situation, Aaron and Hur had Moses sit on a large stone and each of them held up one of Moses' hands, helping him remain steady until sunset, enabling Joshua to win the battle.
I was reminded of the story this week as I read a chapter on intercession in A 12-Month Guide to Better Prayer. Author George Whitfield says, "We need also to pray for those whom 'the Holy Spirit has made...overseers, to shepherd the church of God'" (Acts 20:28).
How often do we really pray for our pastors, I wonder. How often do I?
It's easy to fall into the attitude that our pastors, as our spiritual leaders, have a direct line to God and don't really need our prayers. In fact, they may need it more than others! Here are ten ways you can pray for your pastors, a very inconclusive list, but a beginning. I encourage you to spend time each week lifting your pastors to the Lord. Ask him for insight into how you can pray. If the Lord is directing your prayers, you can be sure he is planning on answering them!
Pray for their hearts -- Pray that they will be open to God, that they will seek him and respond to him. Ask the Lord to reveal any sin in their lives, hidden or otherwise, and any blind spots they may have. Might they walk in humility and obedience before the Lord, leaving room for no root of bitterness, jealousy, or any other sin to take hold.
Pray for their minds -- Ask the Lord to grant them wisdom and discernment. Pray that they will seek godly counsel and spend time daily in the Word. May they fill their minds with truth. Pray also that they guard their minds from things that can draw them into sin and even addictions.
Pray for their spirits -- Pray that they will have confidence in God, will rest in him, and experience freedom to live in the joy and the strength of the Lord.
Pray for their bodies -- Pray that they will rest, be refreshed, and practice good habits that honor the Lord and build them up.
Pray for their relationships -- Whether married or single, we can pray that our pastors will honor the Lord in the affairs of the heart. Ask the Lord to give them strong marriages, noted for integrity, genuine love, and mutual respect. Pray that their children will pursue the Lord and the pastors will love their children and parent them well. Pray that the church will love its pastors and support them. And in their fellowship with other pastors may they love and honor one another, pursing the Lord together and developing strong, healthy friendships.
Pray for their zeal -- May their hearts "be broken by the things that break the heart of God." (Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision.) Pray that they will have compassion on the poor, the stranger, the alien, the oppressed, and on those abused and ignored. Pray that they will seek the lost and spur on the church to do the same. Ask the Lord to give them a heart for missions and opportunities to experience first hand God's work around the world. Ask the Lord to help them be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading in the life of the church.
Pray for their calling -- Pray that they will honor the Lord in all things and will fulfill the role the Lord has called them to, by His grace. And pray that they will be allowed to serve where and how the Lord calls and leads them.
Pray for their faithfulness -- Pray that, like Paul, they will "press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of [them]." Might they "press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [them] heavenward in Christ Jesus." Pray that they "will live up to what they have already attained." (Phil 4:12,14,16)
Pray for their total dependence on God -- Pray that the Lord would prepare those he would call, that he would, indeed call them and equip them, and that they would rely on him for grace and strength to do what God alone can do through our pastors.