Hi, my name is Joe Sanders. I am the lead pastor at The Sanctuary Fellowship in Richmond Texas. I’ve been asked to talk to you about who should pray for their pastors during Pastor Appreciation Month or Clergy Appreciation Month. Hopefully, this is about who should be praying for their pastors all the time, not just during this month.
In Hebrews 13, which may be a passage or verse that many of us are familiar with, it says “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” (Hebrews 13:17).
Who should be praying for your pastors? It should be the people who are receiving the benefits of what the pastor does. Whether or not you are a member of the church, if you are sitting in the congregation regularly, or sitting under that church’s or pastor’s teaching and authority, you are benefitting from their ministry. I think you should be praying for your pastoral staff.
There are several reasons why, some of which we see in Hebrews 13:17. As pastors, we need to know people are praying for us because the bible teaches that we are under a greater, tougher, higher judgment. We are held to a higher standard. We are giving an account for your souls. If you value the condition of your soul, your personal walk with the Lord, how you are developing, maturing, growing into a mature Christ-follower, you would want to pray for the person who the Lord has chosen and set aside to be responsible for your soul.
Those of us who are your soul shepherds need your prayers. If you are receiving soul care from a pastor or the pastoral staff, you would want to pray for them, because they have a higher judgment. They will give an account for your spiritual condition and what they did to pour into that and to equip you to grow and to become more like Christ. For the judgment issue, you would want to pray for your pastors.
Another thing that people don’t understand, I don’t want to blow this from our perspective, but people sometimes miss that pastors are under a greater temptation. They face a different kind, maybe more intense temptation. There is an Old Testament passage that says the enemy will strike the shepherd so the flock will scatter (Zechariah 13:7). Peter has this talk with Christ; Christ says to him “Peter, watch out! Satan wants to sift you right now” and Peter would go on to be the leader of the church in Acts (Luke 22:31).
I think you find this principle throughout Scripture. If the enemy can take out those who are spiritual leaders, organizational leaders, it effects the lives of many people – dozens, hundreds, thousands of people. Especially in our day with social media, as pastors fall and fail to temptation, it effects the faith of many people. Because of the temptation pastors face, if you love your pastor and pastoral staff, and you want to see them excel so that you can excel in your spiritual walk and the care they give for you, you want to pray throughout their temptation.
The last thing I want to say is that as your pastor knows you are praying for him, the blessings that flow into your life increase. I don’t want to make this utilitarian, you pray a prayer so you will get something back. But as a pastor, when you know that people are praying for you, and they are sincere about that, intentional about that, it makes a mountains worth of difference in sermon/message preparation time, or in your counseling time. When you shut that door and you’re counseling somebody, to know that others have been praying for you, it makes that counseling time a blessing to that person. It makes the sermons and the message a blessing to that person. It makes a huge difference in the ministry you receive back from your pastors.
If you sit under the stewardship, and the soul-stewardship of a pastor, you want to be praying for them, for their safe-guarding, for the sake of the gospel in your church and in your community. Also, you want to be praying for them because of the blessing that comes back to you as your pastor ministers more effectively, by the Spirit of God on him, the Holy Spirit covering him. All of us should pray for our pastor who have the privilege of sitting under a loving shepherd of our souls.
God bless you all and bless your pastors this month. Pray for them, lift them up consistently.