These 5 Prayers Will Transform Your Pastor, His Family, and the Church

I recently wrote an article that posed one simple question: Why do so many pastors leave the ministry? In just a short time, it gathered quite a bit of feedback – both positive and negative – but, more importantly, it has opened up a fantastic dialogue.

One commenter shared his story: “I served as the pastor of only one church but my ministry there spanned over twenty-one years. My tenure was definitely successful based, of course, on the current ministry definition of success. The church grew in attendance over 600%, purchased over 20 acres of property, and built a new building completely – all completely debt free. When I came to the church, I envisioned that I would retire there. Today, I am out of the ministry and, at least at this point, out of church as well. What happened? I can only say that the tremendous growth placed tremendous demands on me, stretching me thinner and thinner until, at last, I broke. It’s been over a year since I left and I still struggle with the entire religious machine that has become the church.”

Another wrote, “We need to do a better job as churches in caring for pastors and their spouses.”

The article spurred on an array of follow-up questions like:

How can we change these statistics?
What are denominations currently doing to support pastors and the ones on their way out?
Why aren’t these things talked about in seminaries and bible colleges?
What can I do? How can we can pray for our pastors?

It seems we have more questions than answers. And rightfully so. We are losing too many pastors. They are overworked, underpaid, and unprepared. They’re lonely. They struggle with depression and discouragement and their families are falling apart. And it appears that nothing is being done, at least from a broad stroke perspective, about the mass exodus.

While we’re waiting to find the answers to these questions, I think it’s equally important to shift our focus and seek God through prayer. Another commenter said, “I believe the key to a successful ministry is to have a strong support system already in place [and] to allow the power of prayer to work its miracles.”

Andrew Bonar, author and minister, once wrote: “O brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper–and sleep too–than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgin slumbers.”

Using my previous article as a springboard, here is how I urge you to pray:

Many pastors are overworked.

Pray that the stress of being overwhelmed, overcommitted, overbusy, and under-appreciated doesn’t get in the way of their calling and cause destruction in their families. Pray that God would provide workers, volunteers and elders, to come alongside your pastor and assist in continuing the work of God. John 14:1, Acts 6:2-4

Many pastors feel unprepared.

Pray that your pastor would be given the knowledge to counsel and mentor, the wisdom to confront when necessary, and discernment when seeking God’s leading and direction for the church. In particular, pray (Isaiah 11:2 NLT) that “the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, and the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

Many pastors struggle with depression and discouragement.

Pray that the pressures of your pastor and their families would be relieved, that encouragement would reign in their lives, and that your church would be a community that offers unconditional grace and unrestricted forgiveness. Rom. 15:4-6, 2 Thess. 2:16-17

Many pastor’s families are negatively impacted.

Pray for solid, joyful, Christ-exalting marriages. Pray that church leadership would recognize and provide for your pastor’s family – for their personal, spiritual, and physical needs, so that they won’t be distracted from the ministry God has called them to. Acts 12:5, 1 Timothy 5:17,18

Many pastors are lonely.

Pray that your pastor would establish a handful of close friendships with godly men. Pray for one close friendship in which he could be fully transparent and spiritually accountable in all areas of life and ministry.

There are many (so many more than are listed here) ways we should be praying for our pastoral staff – for joy, discipline, accountability and integrity, among others. John Piper, Will Bruce, and Nicholas Batzig have written some great articles on praying for pastors and pastoral staff. My friend, Tim Challies, has gathered a list of articles on how to pray for pastors and staff. I encourage you to check those out as well.

Pastors are not exempt from the dangers and temptations that each of us face and they need our prayers just as much as we need theirs. As we move toward answering some of these unanswered questions, I encourage you to start with prayer. Because if all else seems impossible, prayer is the one thing we can turn to.

In what other areas can we can pray for our pastor?

Photo courtesy: Greg Shield

POSTED ON March 4, 2014
  • kmd90

    Um … are there no female pastors in your world?

    • No harm was intended when I referred to the pastor as “he” or “him.” We love and appreciate all pastors, whether male or female, from whatever denominational background they come from.

      • kmd90

        Of course no harm was intended. But intent doesn’t equal outcome, so can you please promise to be more aware going forward that exclusively male language is, well, exclusive, and more intentional about not using it?

        • willy

          Please stop being so politically correct. You know what he meant, you just chose not to understand it. Common sense

  • Pastor

    There is no such thing in the Bible as female Pastors, sorry, it’s not sanctioned by God!!!

    • Katherine “Katy” Fusselman

      Dear Pastor,
      What you had to say was part of why I joined Disqus. The Apostle Paul I. believe said we were to study to be approved by God. It may have been John ; I don’t have my Bible right in front of me.
      Being of the truth is also important to God. John said he had joy when his children were of the truth. However, it gets more important than that. Yavashua Jesus Christ in Rev.21:8 says to John that the fearful, then a whole list of bad people and all liars have their part in the lake of fire . I was familiar with this verse as a teenager because my mother was a fairly fearful person and I worried a bit that she might not make heaven.
      The Apostle Paul speaks of his cousin,the apostle Junia and another relative the apostle Andronicus who were chief among the apostles and also spent some time in the same prison with Paul. By looking up corroborating evidence one can find that Christ had twelve men apostles and a few months to a year later chose and educated twelve women and sent them out with equal ministry as the men.
      Further, men who teach at seminaries who have learned to read Aramaic and Hebrew have noted that where the Apostle Paul appears to speak harshly against women, that the spelling, verb tense and grammar is incorrect, not what one would expect from a Pharisee, a lawyer, one of the most highly educated and fluent men in Israel.
      Many men have probably worked very hard to cover up or destroy as much of the truth as they could about women in Christ”s ministry on earth, but thank God they failed to eradicate the facts entirely.
      Junia was the first woman apostle just as Peter was the head man apostle.
      I would hate to miss out on heaven and either end up in the lake of fire or in hell for failing to search for truth and be willing to promote incorrect information instead.
      I have been clinically dead three times and in heaven each time. However, I don’t think that means that I couldn’t still mess it up.
      Would not wisdom dictate that you at least search for the truth a little bit more? Then on the day of the Great White Throne Judgment, you will at least be able to tell God that you showed diligence and looked at different Bible versions, spent time searching the. corroborating evidence available and that you did your best to not be like a parrot.
      To wait until you get a lot older before you start searching for truth may not be the best course.
      Blessings, Sister Katy

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Bo Lane is the founder of ExPastors, a community that strives to offer help, healing, and hope for expastors, pastors, and church leaders, and author of Why Pastors Quit. As a media professional with more than 15 years of experience, he has developed marketing and brand strategies that have revolutionized churches and businesses, both large and small. Bo left full-time ministry after serving more than a decade in churches in Oregon, California, and Iowa. He is also a writer, filmmaker, woodworker, husband and father.