“For I want very much to see you, so I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12 HCSB
When I read these verses, I can hear the Apostle Paul’s heartbeat for the ministry of the Kingdom of God. He recognizes the calling on his life to impart spiritual wisdom to fellow believers, the power of being in the presence of brothers and sisters in the faith, and the necessity of mutual encouragement.
If Paul, the great evangelist and church planter, needed encouragement from fellow believers, then our pastors today need the same thing.
“It is truly encouraging when someone comes up and tells me they’re praying for me,” says Allen Jackson, the pastor of World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Jackson has pastored World Outreach Church since 1989, and through Allan Jackson Ministries, his teachings reach people around the world through tv, radio, social media, and streaming platforms. For him, prayer is an essential aspect of his ministry. Jackson’s prayer life is his lifeline, keeping him connected to the Spirit and operating under the authority of God’s will. The prayers of the church body have kept him covered as well, praying for wisdom, protection, and direction from the Lord. By being active participants in praying for and encouraging their pastor, the believers around pastor Jackson have been like Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’s arms while the Lord works through him.
“Without prayer and listening to God, I am just doing things in my own strength, and that is never a place I want to be as a pastor,” Jackson says. “My time with God in prayer is a priority in my day.”
Jackson emphasizes that prayer isn’t just a time to pour out requests to the Lord—it is a time to worship our Almighty God, confess our sins to our Redeemer, and listen to the wisdom and direction of our All-Knowing Heavenly Father.
Believers within a church can greatly affect the ministry life of their pastors, either with encouragement or discouragement.
In a culture that glorifies extreme self-reliance, personalization, and independence, it is easy to look to our leaders to stand alone and expect them to perform a perfect service tailored to everything we want to hear, then applaud them for being the lone hero of Sunday mornings. This is a myth, a cultural sham; trading in the truths of God for lies.
When congregations and pastors buy into this myth, it leaves pastors isolated, burned out, and discouraged, and the spiritual wellbeing of the entire body suffers. However, in a church body that prays for the pastor, believers are moved to serve alongside the pastor, rather than spectate the ongoing ministry. The faith of the pastor is strengthened when they are supported in ministry and prayer. The pressure to put on a perfect performance is removed from the pastors shoulders, and the focus can shift from seeing the pastor as a source of content to a fellow laborer for the Gospel, whose gifts of teaching and leadership guide the church closer to Christ.
“Christians are called to pray for our leaders and all who are in authority, and this extends to pastors,” says Jackson.
The call is a command from our Heavenly Father—so long as a leader is in a place of authority, their names are in our prayers.
The ways we can pray for pastors are only limited by how much we embrace a Holy Spirit-led empathy and begin to see that pastors need everything we need: godly counsel and accountability, strength to perform their many tasks with excellence, open ears to hear from the Lord, financial provision for physical needs, wisdom and humility to be a godly child, spouse, and parent to their family members… the list goes on.
Let’s take some time right now to pray for pastors—if you feel led, say your pastor’s name anywhere it says ‘my pastor.’ Will you pray this prayer with me?
Lord, You are the Good Shepherd, and in Your perfect plan, You rise up leaders who teach Your followers to know You more and hear Your voice.
Forgive me for looking at my pastor as the ‘professional Christian’ rather than a fellow believer who struggles and strives to serve You with all their heart. Thank You for putting my pastor in this assignment to lead and teach the body of Christ in my church for this season. I pray that You would draw my pastor’s heart to times of deep prayer, and that You would open their spirit to receive the wisdom and instruction they need to fulfill all that You have called them to do. Strengthen their heart as they shepherd fellow believers through the trials and triumphs of the Christian walk.
Open my eyes to see the ways I can intercede for my pastor in the private place of prayer, and how I can encourage them in the ongoing mission of building the Kingdom of God together.