Monday, February 08, 2010

Praying For Our Pastors

Praying for Our Pastor(s)
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 8 Feb 2010

Last week, our pastor asked the congregation to pray. He pleads with all who were there listening, "Pray for your pastor." This is something that has been requested over and over again by many servants of God. The most wonderful gift any pastor can give to the Church is constant prayer for the sheep. Likewise, the best response is for sheep to pray. The shepherd prays for the sheep. Let the sheep also pray for the shepherd. We need praying shepherds as well as praying sheep. We need leaders who pray. We need members to pray. Blessed is the Church whose leaders and members regularly pray for each other. A Church that does not pray becomes easy prey for the evil one. A Church with praying leaders and praying members form a tight defense against any spiritual attacks.

Prayer is Spiritual Warfare
Prayer is spiritual warfare. It is something that is invisible to the eye, but facilitates the Holy Spirit's movement toward fulfilling God's will. Praying allows us to glimpse the coming of the kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven. In prayer, we disrupt the powers and principalities of the world. Prayer warriors pound the gates of hell, and the evil ones shudder off in fear of God's holy people. A living Church is a praying Church. A praying Church is a lively Church. A lively Church is the Church of God. Each time we pray, God listens in like a father listens to his beloved child.

Prayer is an offensive assault on the powers of this world. For we wrestle not with flesh and blood but against the powers of this world. Paul writes to the Ephesians:

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Eph 6:12)

How do we pray for pastors?
Let me suggest the following. Think of the Shepherd and the sheep. The pastor is often likened to the image of a shepherd. After all, Jesus specifically asks Peter to take care of the sheep. The pastor tends the sheep, and the sheep acknowledges the pastor's care and love for the flock. The best way to do so is to pray intentionally. Let me suggest a simple way to help us pray for pastors. I shall use the acronym S.H.E.E.P for us as sheep to remember how to invoke intercessionary prayer. Here goes.

1) S = Servantlike
Pray that the pastor will always remember that he serves not on his own strength, but is one who is empowered by our Saviour, Jesus. The worst thing that any pastor can become, is to think that he can serve out of his own limited energies and skills. Pastors are well trained in many areas, such as theology, counseling, communications and many others. The temptation to serve out of their own human effort is great. Pray that God will grant pastors a servant heart, just like Jesus.

"And calling them to himself, Jesus said to them, 'You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord over theml and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all." (Mark 10:42-44)

Pray for your pastors to continue to grow a servantlike attitude.

2) H = Healing
Pastoring is one of the most challenging vocations in the church. It is common to see pastors getting hurt during ministry. Sometimes, the best intentions do not necessarily turn out well. For every one positive word of affirmation, usually there is a word of criticism. For example, there was a pastor I know becomes very open with his congregation about his limitations, his struggles and his weaknesses. While some in the congregation appreciates his openness, there were others who feel otherwise. One even came up to this pastor and scolded him for not being 'strong' enough.

Pastors are also people in need of healing. They need time to be nursed as sheep as well. There is no perfect human. Certainly, there is no perfect pastor as well. Pray that God's healing will be upon our pastors.

3) E = Encouragement
What I learn about pastoring is to remember the equation A=B. If 'A' is the amount of quality output a pastor gives out, 'B' is the amount of quality input a pastor needs to receive. In other words, pastors cannot serve out of an empty 'gas' tank. If we expect our pastors to travel 500 miles, we need to pray that this pastor is able to RECEIVE enough gas to travel 500 miles. A brief word of encouragement is one of the best ways to pump up our pastors.

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24)

4) E = Endurance
Fourthly, remember that the task of pastoring is a long journey. It requires perseverance and endurance. I have served in many church ministries before. It is very often a thankless task. Even those who have been faithful year after year, are looking for opportunities to take a break. Outsiders who have seen ministry workers getting exhausted are simply too afraid to take up commitments to serve. A pastor sometimes has to pick up loose ends, especially things that nobody else in the church wants to do. Very often, the congregation does not even know that there are these loose ends. Pray for pastors to have that endurance, that only God can give.

"And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:4)

5) P = Protection
Remember that at the beginning I said that prayer is spiritual warfare? The devil knows that a praying pastor who has a supportive family is hard to break. Hence, one of the strategies of the evil one is to tempt pastors to pray less and work more. They tempt pastors to think that pray does not result in anything tangible. They also strike at the pastor's family in such a way that he can be easily distracted. Pray that God will protect pastors, even as they care for the flock.

In summary, as sheep being cared for by shepherds, let us remember that we are little sheep whose biggest contribution to the pastors health is not financial or material but spiritual. We need to come alongside our pastors to support them always in prayer. The Scottish reformer, John Knox (1505-1572) is so well known for his prayers, that his enemy, the dreaded Mary Queen of Scots was reported to have said:

"I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe."

Prayer is a powerful weapon. If there is one thing that defines Jesus's ministry, it is prayer. As followers of Christ, we are expected to pray. Remember the simple S.H.E.E.P. acronym as we pray for our pastors and our leaders. Pray that they develop a SERVANT heart. That they be HEALED. That they be ENCOURAGED with a a word of affirmation. That they be able to develop ENDURANCE on the long spiritual path of pastoring. That they be able to receive God's PROTECTION always.

"Teach us to pray often; that we may pray oftener." (Jeremy Taylor, 1613-1667)



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