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Inspiring Prayer For Pastors and Their Families

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Today’s pastors face much difficulty in their calling and role as shepherds of God’s flock. They must accurately understand and teach the Word of God, discern God’s will, follow His leading, and shepherd their church and family with humility, grace, and love. They serve in a culture increasingly hostile to the gospel and the call of Christ, and they need our prayers now more than ever.

Our society is marked by changing values, diminishing church attendance, decreased giving, and deep contention — all of which takes a toll on those in ministry. Stress, fatigue, financial woes, and church conflict can be accompanied by depression, burnout, marital struggles, difficulty in relationships with their children, and immorality/pornography.

Although most pastors serve faithfully, a significant number regularly consider leaving the ministry. On average, a seminary-trained pastors today will serve about five years before burning out or moving on.[1]

Faithful pastors want to honor the Lord in their ministries. They want the simple satisfaction of fulfilling their calling and seeing people’s lives transformed.

A casual survey of several pastors a few years ago asked them what they most wanted from their church members. 100% of ministers replied with the same answer: “Fruit from their labors in the form of repentant hearts, dedicated lives, and surrendered disciples.” [2]

Even if their financial and physical needs are met and their ministries are bearing much fruit, our pastors still need our prayers. Here are five areas to consider, along with powerful prayers to pray over your pastor’s life.

Categories of a Pastor’s Prayer Needs:

1. The Pastor’s Relationship with God

For those in ministry, personal time with the Lord is not only essential, but also the place where the work of ministry begins. Pastors need uninterrupted time for Bible study, both for sermon preparation and to fuel their intimacy with the Lord.

The man of God must also be a man of prayer in order to grow a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father and experience the joy of the Lord in his life and ministry. 

They need faithfulness to study the Word of God, ample time in prayer, and a hunger and thirst for righteousness that cannot be quenched with anything other than our Lord. They also need discernment, wisdom, and protection from the schemes of the evil one. Perhaps most important, to do the will of God they need sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s vision for their ministry.

We cannot overlook the issue of spiritual warfare. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us the devil constantly seeks someone to devour. Pastors and their families can expect the enemy to offer frequent and tempting stumbling blocks and we do well to pray for their protection.

Sample prayer for your pastor’s relationship with God:

Lord, we come to you on behalf of our pastor. Create in him a clean heart, renew a right spirit within Him, and draw him ever closer to you. Give him a generous supply of Your wisdom and discernment in every situation. Fill him with Your Spirit, help him to recognize the Spirit’s leading, and grant him both a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. Help him to seek Your kingdom, Your righteousness, and Your vision for ministry before anything else. Allow him to do the work of God and bear good fruit in the ministry You have given him to steward. Remind him to put on the armor of God as he engages the front lines of spiritual battle on a daily basis. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, please protect him and his family from the schemes of the devil. Give him wisdom to follow Your priorities and not those of the world. We ask this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen (Psalm 51:10, James 1:5, Matthew 6:33)

 

2. The Pastor’s Relationship with Their Spouse

When emergencies happen, people need their pastor. Pastors and their families know that specific needs will arise from members of the church. However, long hours spent in ministry or frequent after-hours interruptions can diminish quality time spent with a spouse. Regular calls for the pastor’s attention place additional stress on his wife to attend to the needs of the family, and may erode the marital relationship.

A pastor’s family is his first ministry. But often the position of pastor puts the entire family in the spotlight. For those who tend to be introverts, this can be particularly stressful. The public position can cause family members, including  spouses, to struggle with a need to look “perfect” in the eyes of the church. We all make mistakes but the pastor’s family may feel as if there is no grace for them and their mistakes. This can result in anxiety, depression, a sense of isolation, and unresolved anger.

A study from the Francis A Schaeffer Institute several years ago found that many pastors’ spouses felt left out and under-appreciated.[3] As the body of Christ, we must love and honor the spouses of those who serve in ministry and give an abundance of grace when needed. Many pastors say there is no greater way to bless them than to love and bless their families.

Sample prayer for pastors’ relationship with their spouse:

Holy Father, we lift up our pastor’s marriage to You. We ask you to give him the same deep love for his wife that Jesus has for the church and give her a deep respect and love for him. Help him to honor, prioritize, and serve her in practical ways in their relationship. Help them find time to nurture their love and build their relationship on the solid rock of Jesus. Teach them how to weather every storm of life they encounter and shield them from every of attack of the enemy. Let the love of Christ shine forth in their relationship for all to see. Help us, as church members and godly friends, to be respectful of their marriage and family time and to honor our pastor’s wife as we honor him. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen. (Ephesian 5:25-27)

 

3. The Pastor’s Relationship with Their Children

Children need their parents and it is the God-given responsibility of parents to diligently teach them the ways and truths of God. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)  According to a 2023 article published in Frontiers in Psychology, the amount of time children spend with their parents is a crucial factor in their mental health and well being.[4]

A pastor’s children need specific prayer to meet the emotional need and challenges brought about by the demands of the ministry. Church leaders are always in demand.  Those demands can quickly carry over and bring a strain on the pastor’s own family.

When the needs of a congregation cause children to take a “back seat” to their parent’s ministry, it not only affects their relationship with the parent, but may skew their view of both ministry and of God. Resentment toward God and God’s people can take root quickly, and last for years.

We do not want to divide our pastor’s heart, or the hearts of his children. As the body of Christ, it is our responsibility to care for our spiritual leaders by covering their family relationships with intercessory prayer on a regular basis.

Time with their children is crucial to our pastor’s lives. Not only is it required of them to lead their children well, but it is often how they grow as spiritual leaders and become more effective shepherds of the local church. 

Sample prayer for pastors’ relationship with their children:

Lord Jesus, You demonstrated Your love for children when You told Your disciples to let them come to you. We pray You will help Pastor____ rear his children to know You and love You. We pray He will model the sweetness of a deep relationship with You and help His children navigate the difficulties of a life in the spotlight without feeling undue pressure. May they know how much they are loved, both by their parents and by You. Draw his little ones to You and cause them to hunger and thirst for Your righteousness. We pray You will protect them from the schemes of the evil one. May goodness and mercy follow them all the days of their lives and may they serve You with their whole heart. As the body of Christ, help us to love his children well, consistently offer grace, godly wisdom, and pray for them faithfully. In Your name we pray. Amen

 

4. The Pastor’s Relationship with Church Members:

In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Just as Christ Jesus laid His life down for us, our pastors are called to do the same for us, the flock of God. This is a heavy task, and one that every under-shepherd of Christ will take to heart as they do the work of the Lord.

One thing that can bring pain to a pastor’s heart is disunity in the church. Every pastor today has experienced this on some level in their congregation. This is often caused by pride and disobedience within the church. Hebrews 13:17 tells the church: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

The pastor’s relationship with his church should be one of joy and mutual love for one another and for God. When we honor God, obey Him, and follow the loving lead of our pastors, we will experience not only the peace of God, but the presence of God in our churches. Not only on Sunday mornings, but every time we gather.

Our Lord Jesus knew the importance of unity. Shortly before His arrest, Jesus prayed for His disciples and those believers who would come later. He asked His Father for unity in the body of Christ four separate times. (John 17:11, 21- 23) Why did Jesus put such an emphasis on unity? He knew how easily discord can arise. If Jesus placed such a value on unity, so should we.

Sample prayer for pastors’ relationship with church members:

Father, just as Jesus prayed for the unity of His disciples and those who would come after them, we pray for the unity of our pastor and the members of our church. May we be one as You are one, may disagreements be bathed in prayer, and may opinions be surrendered to you. May the love of Christ abound in all relationships in our church, toward our pastor, and the community at large. Help us guard our words and actions that they might bring glory to You and demonstrate the light of Christ in a dark and perishing world. Help us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to be faithful in discipleship and bless our pastor with repentant, humble hearts and caring, servant hands. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

 

5. The Pastor’s Relationship with Self:

A pastor’s ministry is marked by spending long hours caring for others, but if they are to thrive in ministry they must care for themselves as well. To maintain health, pastors must have adequate sleep, manageable levels of stress, a healthy diet, ample exercise, and consistent health care. They need a reasonable amount of time off work, enough vacation time to decompress and relax, and good stress management skills. As the Apostle Paul taught, just as an athlete cares for his body, so the pastor must consider his body a tool of ministry and care for it accordingly. 1 Corinthians 9:27

Sample prayer for pastor’s relationship with self:

Dear God, we ask you to give our pastor the wisdom to care for himself as one loved and treasured by You. Give him wisdom and discernment about his health, the time and knowledge to make wise choices, and the discipline in food, exercise, and stress management to keep himself healthy, fit, and able to do all You’ve called him to do. Help him to set an example of health and healthy balance for our entire church. As a faithful church, help us to be considerate of our pastor’s needs so that he will have time and energy to fulfill the calling You have on his life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Go deeper:

Don’t merely pray once for your pastor and his family. Make it a routine and look for ways to add action to your prayers with these simple suggestions:

  • Add your pastor, his family, and their needs to your daily prayer list.
  • Encourage others to pray with you for your pastor and his family.
  • Pray about adding the discipline of fasting to your prayers.
  • Send a hand-written note to your pastor’s spouse and express your thanks and your prayers for them.
  • When your pastor’s service helps you go deeper with the Lord, be sure to let him know with a word or note of thanks and encouragement.

 

[1]https://www.soulshepherding.org/pastors-under-stress/#:~:text=Statistics%20on%20Pastors’%20Ministry%20Stress&text=75%25%20of%20pastors%20report%20being,’re%20grossly%20underpaid%20(2)

[2]https://leannahollis.com/how-to-bless-your-pastor-during-clergy-appreciation-month/

[3] ibid.

[4]Li, D., & Guo, X. (2023). The effect of the time parents spend with children on children’s well-being. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1096128

Author

  • Leanna Hollis

    Leanna is a prolific writer and passionate intercessor. She has taught and led in the area of prayer and in-depth Bible studies for more than two decades. She has served Global Outreach International as the Director of Intercessory Prayer and Outreach since 2016. Her ministry priorities include: SHARING the gospel primarily with high-risk teens SERVING through providing personal hygiene supplies and water to the homeless community and a feeding program for food-insecure students EQUIPPING believers to go deeper in the disciple life through retreats, Bible studies, and one-on-one disciplining SUPPORTING missionaries through prayer and encouragement and connecting senior adults in long-term care facilities with missionaries in the field as prayer partners. You can read more at www.leannahollis.com and www.whispergathering.com and sign up to receive her not-quite-daily devotionals here.

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Ryan

Wednesday 3rd of April 2024

Thank and bless you Leanna

Johanna

Wednesday 3rd of April 2024

Thank you - this is a very useful article.

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