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Typically one thinks of a pastor as the shepherd and the congregation is the flock, but church leaders are so much more. They give of themselves in ways their church members may never know.
As pastors teach God’s Word, comfort their flocks when they are troubled, protect them from danger, and minister to souls, these loving leaders have a target on their backs. Mark 14:27 retells Jesus explaining why Peter would deny knowing Christ. He said the disciples “will all fall away.” Christ then refers to Zechariah’s prophecy, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”
Apostle Paul tasked his brothers and sisters in Christ with the duty of caring for their pastors. Congregants need to give back to those who teach, nurture, and pray for them. First and foremost, pastors must be recognized for their love. In doing so, pastors are nurtured. Lastly, pastors need prayer.
In First Thessalonians 5:12-13, Paul instructs the Church to recognize their pastors:
15Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. (NIV)
Then in First Timothy 5:17, he wrote:
17The elders who direct the affairs of the Church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching or teaching. (NIV)
Not only did Paul instruct the believers to honor these dedicated leaders but he also sought prayer in his letters to the Churches. In Romans 15:30-32 he asked:
30I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.
Paul’s letters to the Church talk about those God calls to the ministry and their responsibilities. They are called to care for God’s children, to pray for them and to love them. If the expectation is the pastor cradles the souls of the sheep, then it is logical the Father wants the congregants to do the same for their shepherd,(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
How Does One Pray for A Spiritual Leader?
First, pray for a pastor’s health, both physical and spiritual. Ask Jesus to protect him against Satan and his schemes.
Add prayer for his family life, marriage, children, his parenting. Then pray for the pastor’s wife that she is “respectful, sober-minded, and faithful in all things,” (1 Timothy 3:11).
Pray for the minister’s ministry life, that his life and his doctrine are the same in private and from the pulpit. Ask “that his leadership, vision, and service would be in accords with God’s will,” (Philippians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 12:11).
Pray that under his leadership, disciples are made and those make more. Thank God for the sacrifice the pastor had made.
Lastly, pray for all pastors, in countries like China, Iran, Armenia, India, North Korea, and Russia. Ask God to keep them and their flocks safe. Because, as Paul explains in Romans 15:30, when a person prays for someone in ministry, they join them in ministry.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Wesleyan Church: Pastor Appreciation Month: Tips to Encourage Your Pastor
Leadership Resources: How to Pray for Your Pastor: Praying for A Pastor’s Personal Life, Family Life, Ministry
Leadership Resources: 6 Observations from the Prayer Requests of the Apostle Paul
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of KALHH’s Pixabay Page – Public Domain License