“With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be alert with all perseverance and every request for all the saints.” -Ephesians 6:18 NASB
Pastors are a key resource in the Church. They impart knowledge to congregations on Sunday mornings and give pastoral care throughout the week to congregants who are sick, homebound, or simply needing biblical guidance. In recent decades, they also shoulder additional pressure of being business-savvy, leveraging social media and the expectation of hitting the ‘culturally relevant’ moving target.
“People take it for granted that the pastor is supposed to always be present or to always be on point, and pastors are human,” said Kenya Procter. “Just like we have needs, the pastors have needs. When we speak those blessings over them, we need to pray for the time, peace, and respite that is needed but so often overlooked.”
Fallon and Kenya Procter, the NDPTF East Region National Area Leaders, understand that praying for pastors is imperative to a healthy congregation and the spiritual growth of every believer. Their perspective as both church and prayer leaders offers great insight into the strategic prayers that can impact a pastor and an entire congregation.
“Oftentimes, we think of stewardship as just about money,” Fallon said. “But we pray for pastors to be good stewards of their time, their treasure, and the resources that they have—the resources of themselves. While pastors may have demands from everyone, they must be careful to not become involved in everything, because they will not be a good steward of their time.”
Since 2020, there have been thousands of leaders leaving the pastorate, leaving the faith, and some even taking their own lives because they are painfully lonely and overwhelmed by hopelessness. This means it is urgent that believers pray for pastors to be strengthened and listen to the Holy Spirit to hear where God opens opportunities to serve that pastor.
“Pastors need pastors, and they need that push sometimes, from that person in the congregation to say, ‘hey, it's okay, we need you to take a break,’” Kenya said. “That's a part of that blessing; that's actually a bigger part of that prayer.”
Fallon and Kenya remember a time where a church member blessed them in the exact way that they needed: Early in their ministry career when their children were small, they were feeling overwhelmed by the combination of their jobs, ministry, and parenting. A single mother in their church offered to watch their kids for a few days while they took some time for extended Sabbath.
“We didn’t ask for that, it was unprompted,” Fallon said. “The Lord spoke to her, and she said, ‘you need to be able to go away and get some respite, and the Lord said for me and my family to take your kids in for a few days.’ That came from prayer, and we knew that came from God, because we didn't ask for it.”
Prayers that bless pastors can be full of the sweetness of the Lord—allowing a pastor to rest, refuel in the Word and be rejuvenated in the Holy Spirit. Other prayers are like shields—strong and firm, praying for protection against the pitfalls that ensnare pastors and their congregations. Both are necessary, and both are equally important.
“We're praying for pastors to remain teachable, humble and submitted to God,” Fallon said. “When those things are off balance, there's a potential for the pastor to want to not only take the place of God, but for the people to start looking to the pastor instead of God, and that is dangerous.”
A lifestyle of prayer is characterized by increased attentiveness. The Lord uses prayer to focus our hearts on His divine nature and to notice the people and situations that need prayer. Hearts shift from reacting in emotion to responding in prayer.
“What has blessed me are the times when people pay attention,” Kenya said. “Then they come and say, ‘I'm going to be praying for you and can we pray now’ then when they do pray, it's not a general prayer. It's a very specific prayer for because they were paying attention.”
God might not reveal every fruit of every prayer. However, praying for pastors means trusting the Lord will work in the heart of the pastor to give the wisdom, stewardship, and protection from sin that is so necessary.
“We know that it's the power of prayer, that regardless of what's going on, when you have people praying for you and not praying against you, you feel the wind filling up your sails,” said Fallon. “The scripture that says, ‘greater is He that's within me than he that's within the world’ really comes alive.”
Will you join in prayer for pastors right now?
Lord, You are the Good Shepherd, and I, as your sheep, love to hear Your voice. Thank you for calling forth pastors to faithfully lead Your flock. I pray for my pastor to have Godly wisdom from You to know how to steward time, resources, and talents in a way that is effective and honors You, God. Keep my pastor’s heart tender for Your Holy Spirit, fully submitted to You, and always teachable and humble. I lift up my pastor’s family, that You would protect them from harm, and that Your peace would reign in their family relationships. Lord, continue to show me how to pray for and serve my pastor. In Jesus name, Amen.