When you work for the church or other Christian organization, it’s most helpful to have a clear job description and contract, regular reviews, and other personnel policies and practices that are respectful of both employer and employee.
But beyond the legalities and policies that are part of the employer-employee relationship is the covenant community we share with one another as part of the body of Christ. We are not only employer and employee to one another, but brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
One way we can live that out is by praying for one another.
In my congregation, we include a time for prayer as part of our Sunday worship, often called a “congregational prayer” or “pastoral prayer” or “prayers of the people.” We pray at our council, deacon, committee, and congregational meetings. We include prayer requests in our printed bulletin that some people keep in their Bible as a bookmark and prayer reminder for the rest of the week. We have an email prayer chain for prayer requests. I have a “sticky note” feature on my computer where I keep my regular prayer list so I see it every day on my home screen.
I also know that I have people in my congregation who pray regularly for me and my husband. Even now while I’m on study leave and away from the church, I know that some are praying–even praying for my current writing project. I know I need those prayers, and I’m so thankful for the support!
That’s why today I’m highlighting Praying for Your Pastor: How Your Prayer Support is Their Life Support by Eddie Byun (InterVarsity Press, 2016).
This book is for pastors looking for teaching on prayer and to widen their prayer support, for church leaders wanting to pray for their pastors and to encourage their congregation to join them, for anyone who would like to grow in praying for their pastor. The book includes examples from ministry and church life, discussion questions, prayer points, and suggested action plans. Churches can also sign up for a church-wide campaign with additional resources.
Eddie Byun uses the acronym PRAYERS for his seven chapters on praying for:
- Yielded heart,
- Effectiveness in ministry,
- Righteousness and integrity,
- Strong marriages and families.
While the book is squarely focused on prayer, it also puts prayer into action. For example in the chapter on praying for strong marriages and families, the author includes prayer points to protect and encourage your pastor’s marriage and family, and also suggests this action step:
If your pastor has young children, set up a babysitter for them so that your pastor and his or her spouse can go out on a date, just the two of them. Maybe even provide a gift certificate to a nice restaurant and two tickets to a movie. Create a wonderful date night so you can bless their marriage. (page 129)
While not all pastors are married, I appreciate this inclusion for those who are, as well as the recognition that pastors include both men and women.
Throughout the book and in his conclusion, the author also underscores why your pastor needs you to pray:
We are living in a time when there has never been more pressure on pastors to be someone that they are not. Church members can now listen to the best preachers around the world through the Internet or on TV Monday to Friday, and then sit in the pews on Sunday to see how their pastor’s sermons compare with some of the best communicators in the world. The Internet age also brings another challenge, and that’s the temptation to become the next celebrity pastor with a huge following online. Now more than ever our pastors need our prayers and support so that they know that they are loved not because of what they do, but because of what Jesus has done for them. The gospel is not the ABCs of Christianity, it is the A to Z of Christianity. None of us outgrow the gospel and our need to hear it and be strengthened by it–even pastors.
There are new challenges pastors face, but there are also old temptations that never go away on this side of glory. My heart breaks with each news report of another pastor that has fallen. As we have seen throughout this book, many pastors struggle with loneliness, criticism and other forms of spiritual attack that take their toll on our spiritual leaders. Pastors need our prayers. Your pastor needs your prayers. (pages 131-132)
If you’re a pastor, or if you work for a church or Christian organization in another capacity, which area of prayer are you most in need of today: Protection, Rest, Anointing, Yieldedness, Effectiveness, Righteousness, Strong Family? Share that with a prayer partner, and/or commit it to God in your own prayers.
If you have a pastor, choose one of these areas and offer a prayer for your pastor today.
Disclosure: Thank you to InterVarsity Press for providing me with a complimentary copy of Praying for Your Pastor. As always, my opinions and the choice to review are my own.
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Yes, I pray for my pastor and her husband, but not as regularly as I should. I know the importance of prayer in ministry. We would not have lasted 45 years in Japan without the prayer support of many dear Christians back home. When I meet visitors from other churches in Canada, I remind them to thank the people, especially the ladies’ groups, in their congregation for all their prayers during our time in Japan.
I like your idea of a prayer reminder on your computer, but I’m much too technologically challenged to have support like that. The Lord will have to remind me daily! Blessings on your writing, and waiting for your return.
Thank you so much, Mary! I appreciate any and all prayers. It was such a privilege to be on study leave and a privilege to be back.