Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:30 (NLT)]
The story is told about a pastor who was shaking hands with his congregation after church one Sunday morning when a little boy handed him a dollar. After thanking him, the pastor asked what it was for. The youngster replied, “It’s for you, because I heard my daddy say that you were the poorest preacher that we ever had.” How easy it is to criticize our pastors when, instead, we should be praying for them.
Have we given thought to the fact that our pastors are people just like us and prone to the same physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges? Expected to produce inspiring sermons every week, their family lives in a fish bowl, they’re on call every hour of every day and, unlike Superman, are vulnerable to far more than kryptonite! Like the rest of us, they get sick, lonely, tired, disappointed, discouraged, angry and can feel inadequate, depressed, overworked, and under-appreciated. A clerical collar does not protect our pastors from the hazards of living in our fallen world; like you and me, they endure illness, injury, family problems, loss, financial hardship, and temptation yet, for some reason, we find it easier to criticize them than to pray for them!
Ministry never has been and never will be a one-man show! The Apostle Paul understood he couldn’t conduct his ministry alone and, knowing he needed God’s power, frequently asked the church for their prayers. Although Paul asked for prayers, our pastors frequently don’t. Just because they don’t ask, however, doesn’t mean they’re not in need of them!
Rather than complaining to his son about the minister’s poor preaching, the man could have asked God to refresh the pastor’s call to preach so that his sermons would inspire and revive the congregation. Prayers for our pastors, however, aren’t limited to complainers; along with praying for their preaching, we should pray for their spiritual discernment, evangelism opportunities, ministry effectiveness, leadership, wisdom, courage, and spiritual protection. As we pray for our pastors’ physical, spiritual, and mental health, let us remember to pray for their families. Our churches seem to have councils, altar guilds, prayer chains, small group leaders, hospitality committees, and worship, set-up and evangelism teams, but do they have anyone who regularly prays for the pastors?
Evangelist, author, and radio host Woodrow Kroll said that, “Pastors need your grace, not your gripes.” I would suggest they need our prayers, as well.