If you’re ever more than toe-deep in Church World, eventually the conversation will make its way to the pastor of whatever church.
He the pastor-wannabe.
And so it goes…
- I don’t like my pastor.
- I love my pastor.
- My pastor’s a jerk.
- I’m not getting fed by my pastor.
- My pastor just resigned.
- I wish my pastor would resign.
- We’re looking for a new pastor.
- We have a new pastor coming.
- My pastor can’t preach.
- My pastor isn’t very organized.
- My pastor left under a cloud of suspicion.
Hey, I get it. I’ve been on both ends of those conversations and have had all of that and more said about me, and often for good reason. People a lot smarter than I am have done quite a bit of research about members of the clergy, and they have made some startling discoveries. Care to guess what the most shocking of them all is?
Pastors are just as human as anybody else. They have just as much burnout, just as many divorces, just as many forced terminations, just as much debt, just as many temptations and failures as people who aren’t pastors.
What they do have that makes them unique is a higher level of spiritual warfare. Simply put, the call to ministry is a call to a war. And those in spiritual leadership are marked in hell.
Let me tell you about the conversations about pastors I have yet to hear:
- I’ve just spent two hours calling on God for my pastor.
- Sorry, can’t make lunch tomorrow – I’m fasting and praying for my pastor.
- I’m not getting fed lately by my pastor – that’s what I get for forgetting to pray for him.
- My pastor is under attack – and by God, if he* hits the ditch he’ll have to climb over our prayer to do it.
Pastors occupy a unique role because of the ways that God has uniquely gifted them. More than a profession, they live and work with a sense of calling by God that often came to them through extraordinary ways.
Pastors lead with a fierce determination to obey God and pursue His kingdom. They are ambitious – sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes not. They want to be loved as much, if not more, than you do, and badly need encouragement and support from those they lead. They want to serve others, and most of them loathe conflict.
Pastors make their living with words, and like most men think they drive well, most pastors think they teach or preach well. Many are incorrect. But what matters is not whether the pastor can entertain you with their words, but whether they speak with the excellence of the power of God and the clarity and simplicity of the gospel.
Pastors live in something like a permanent press conference. They’re “on” all the time, and the temptation is to use God’s truth for their own purposes and motives. They face a relentless battle with discouragement and exhaustion, and the weaker they are in that battle the more they have a tendency to focus on themselves and not on serving others for Jesus’ sake.
Pastors preach faith, but are just as tempted to walk by sight as anyone else. Though they make their living with words, they sometimes find themselves at a loss for them – or at a loss for the boldness to speak them with courage. They often become discouraged by a lack of outward evidence of fruitfulness in their ministries. They also are tempted to believe the many compliments they receive in seasons of growth or outward success.
Pastors are special targets for temptations toward pleasure, materialism and pride. They are prone to isolate themselves and live without accountability. They often have a love-hate, self-righteous-guilty relationship with anger in all its forms. Though they may hide it well, pastors are often subject to a spirit of fear.
Isn’t It Time to Raise the Shield?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if every pastor in every church had a team of intercessors praying specifically for them? Hands up. Knees bent. Shields out. Swords drawn. These warriors in prayer make straight paths in the spiritual realm for spiritual leaders to speak God’s truth, demonstrate God’s power, and stand in God’s authority.
What if your pastor knew that you were part of the “whole armor of God” for him, his family, and his ministry?
What if your pastor knew that he could depend on you to fight for him when he had nothing left in human terms to fight with?
What if your pastor knew that the enemy took flight every time you called on God on his behalf?
Do you think that maybe – just maybe – we’d see fewer burnouts, washouts, or check-outs? Don’t you think we’d see more unity, more joy, more manifestations of love and grace and growth and truth?
Don’t you think it’s time to let him know he’s not fighting an armorless battle, alone?
Where to Get Started
Here are some suggestions to guide you in praying for your pastor, along with scriptural references. You will find four different “prayer points” along with way. Click here to download a printable copy of this list.
Hands Up – Praise Points
Praise God that He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and [insert name] as a pastor/teacher for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11).
Praise God that He commanded light to shine out of darkness, and that He has shone in your pastor’s heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Praise God that He called [insert name] to be a pastor through His will (1 Corinthians 1:1).
Knees Bent – Surrender Points
Surrender your will to God’s will as expressed through your pastor’s leadership.
Surrender your life and heart to be an encouragement and support to your pastor. Pray for insight and wisdom to know how to be an encouragement and a blessing to him.
Surrender your will and heart to walk in unity, humility, and unselfishness alongside your pastor (Philippians 2:1-4).
Shields Out – Intercession Points
Pray that your pastor’s ministry would not be with excellence of speech or human wisdom, but would focus on Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).
Pray that your pastor’s ministry would be in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Corinthians 2:4).
Pray that your pastor would not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1).
Pray that your pastor would renounce the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the Word of God deceitfully (2 Corinthians 4:2).
Pray that your pastor would not focus on himself, but on Christ, and that he would serve others for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).
Pray that your pastor would walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Pray that your pastor would be given the words to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).
Pray that your pastor would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that he would walk worthy of the Lord and be fruitful in every good work (Colossians 1:9-10).
Pray that he name of the Lord Jesus would be glorified in the life of your pastor (2 Thessalonians 1:12).
Swords Drawn – Battle Points
Pray that your pastor would walk in the glory of moral and physical purity. Pray a hedge of protection against any inappropriate desires for sex, food, rest (sloth).
Pray that your pastor would be protected from materialism. Pray that he would have “neither poverty nor riches… lest he be full and deny the Lord… or lest he be poor and steal and profane the name of his God” (Proverbs 30:7-9).
Pray that your pastor would be protected from the sin of pride in all its manifestations.
Pray against any spirit of discouragement (see Hebrews 12).
Pray that your pastor would be protected from temptations to anger, wrath, bitterness, clamor, evil speaking, or malice (Ephesians 4:30-31).
Pray that your pastor would be freed from isolation (Proverbs 18:1)
Pray that your pastor would be protected from any spirit of fear, and that the Holy Spirit would be manifest in his life in power, love, and clear thinking (2 Timothy 1:7).
* Masculine pronouns are used throughout, but many churches and ministries are led by faithful women who face similar battles and challenges.