By Kim Butts
Pastors are burning out at an alarming rate! As Christians, we should feel deep agony over this fact, especially since the main reason for it appears to be . . . us! The very Christians who comprise the congregations of pastors who are rapidly dropping out of ministry are most often the cause for it. God has not called us to criticize or damage our pastors. He has called us to love them (1 Cor. 13:1-13), to be submissive to their leadership (Heb. 13:17), and to pray for them (1 Tim. 2:1-2). The Father has called our pastors, and has ordained them to be our shepherds (Acts 20:28).
How can you pray effectively for your pastor and his family? The first thing that is needed is to make a commitment to pray for them daily. If your pastor knew that you, your family, and others were praying for him each day . . . can you imagine what an encouragement that would be? Would his heart be lifted if he knew that he could share a need or a concern with your family and you would take it to the Lord on his behalf? You know it would!
Most pastors and their families feel very alone in the midst of their churches. Often, they don’t have close friends in the congregation to whom they can go with burdens. They may feel that they can’t share needs because they, of all people, should have everything running smoothly. In truth, the pastor’s family is just like yours. They struggle with similar issues and problems. They desperately need others to come alongside of them and commit to fervent, continuous prayer so that the enemy won’t have the opportunity to do damage. Your pastor’s ministry will only be as effective as the prayer that fuels it. If you want a joyful, Spirit-filled shepherd, who confidently leads his congregation into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, and demonstrates a passion for revival and for reaching the lost, then you must pray for him, and for his family!
Here are some specific ways that your family can pray for your pastor and his family:
Pray that your pastor will always have a passion to know Christ more intimately.
Prayer: Father, help our pastor to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings (Phil. 3:10). Since we know of his faith in the Lord Jesus and his love for all the saints, may we never stop giving thanks for him, always remembering him in our prayers. We will keep asking that You, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, will give him the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that he may know You better (Eph. 1:15-17).
Pray that your pastor will minister out of a humble spirit.
Prayer: Lord God Almighty, would You help our pastor to humble himself before You and under Your mighty hand, so that You will lift him up (Jas. 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:6)? Guide him in what is right and teach him Your way (Psa. 25:9). May our congregation see that he is wise and understanding as shown by his good life, and by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom (Jas. 3:13). Father, You have said that the one You esteem is he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at Your Word (Isa. 66:2). May our pastor be such a person!
Pray that your pastor will minister from the Spirit’s power.
Prayer: Gracious Father, may our pastor’s messages and preaching come to us, not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that our faith might not rest on the wisdom of man, but upon Your power (1 Cor. 2:4-5). Help him never to depend upon his own might or power, but always upon Your Spirit, Lord Almighty (Zech. 4:6). May You, the God of hope, fill our pastor with all joy and peace as he trusts in you, so that he may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).
Pray that your pastor will be a man of prayer and of the Word so that he can live a holy and pure life.
Prayer: Glorious God, we pray that our pastor will seek You with all of his heart. Help him never to stray from Your commands. May he hide Your Word in his heart so that he will not sin against You (Psa. 119:10-11). Give him deep desire to meditate on Your precepts and to consider Your ways. May he delight in Your decrees and never neglect Your Word (Psa. 119:15-16). Give him understanding so that he will keep your law and obey it with all of his heart. Direct him in the path of Your commands where he will find delight. Turn his heart toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain, and turn his eyes away from worthless things. Preserve his life according to Your Word (Psa. 119:34-37).
Pray for your pastor’s family.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, may our pastor fear You so that he will have a secure fortress that will always be a refuge for his children (Prov. 14:26). May he consistently teach his children to revere Your commands by following his example (Psa. 34:11), so that they might be blessed (Psa. 112:1-2). Help him to manage his family well so that his children will obey him with proper respect (1 Tim. 3:4-5). May he love his wife just as Christ loved the Church (Eph. 5:25). Help him to be considerate and respectful to her so that nothing will hinder his prayers (1 Pet. 3:7). Faithful Lord, strengthen and protect our pastor and his family against the attacks of the enemy (2 Thess. 3:3), and may their household always choose to serve You (Josh. 24:15).
Pray for protection against the schemes of the devil.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help our pastor to be strong in Your mighty power. May he continually remember to clothe himself with Your armor so that he can take his stand against the devil’s schemes. Help him to remember that his struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Help him to stand his ground and to stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around his waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with his feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. In addition, help him to daily take up the shield of faith so that he can extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. May he put on the helmet of salvation and use the sword of the Spirit, Your Word. Give him the desire to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Help him to be continually alert, and to keep on praying for all the saints (Eph. 6:10-18). Don’t let the devil establish a foothold in any area of his life (Eph. 4:27). Help him to have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap (1 Tim. 3:7). May he continually submit himself to You, Father, and may he be self-controlled and alert in order to resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, so that the devil will flee (Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9). Keep him from temptation and deliver him from the evil one, Lord (Matt. 6:13).
Pray blessing into the life of your pastor and his family:
O Lord, our Rock and Redeemer, may the words of our pastor’s mouth and the meditation of his heart be pleasing in Your sight (Psa. 19:14).
May You, O Lord, give our pastor the desire of his heart and make all of his plans succeed (Psa. 20:4).
Lord, our God, may Your favor rest upon our pastor and establish the work of his hands (Psa. 90:17).
God of hope, may You fill our pastor with all joy and peace as he trusts in You, so that he may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).
Lord of peace, may You give our pastor and his family peace at all times and in every way (2 Thess. 3:16).
May You, the God of peace, equip our pastor with everything good for doing Your will, and may You work in him what is pleasing to You, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Heb. 13:20-21).
Becoming the Answer
Now that you have prayed for and blessed your pastor and his family, here are some practical ways to care for, encourage, and show your appreciation to them:
• Submit to the spiritual authority of your pastor and encourage others to do the same.
• Extend hospitality to your pastor and his family by inviting them to your home for a meal or including them in family activities. Think of other creative ideas.
• Recognize that your pastor’s family goes through the same struggles as everyone else’s families and be empathetic rather than critical.
• Give your pastor and his wife time together while you care for their children or hire someone to do so.
• Fix a meal and take it to them with an encouraging note.
• Take a basket of items such as fruit and nuts, freshly baked bread, etc.
• Send notes of encouragement and appreciation from your whole family; have your children draw pictures or write their own notes.
• Find out if there are any needs in their home that need attention: leaky shower, car repairs, yard work, etc. and see that they are taken care of.
• Recruit as many people as you can to pray regularly for your pastor and his family. Try to cover them in prayer seven days a week.
• Encourage your church leaders to send your pastor on a spiritual retreat so that he can be renewed and refreshed by the Holy Spirit.
Use your imagination. There are so many things you can do to show your love and appreciation.
Be determined to pray for and care for your pastor and his family, and allow the Lord to work in and through you by encouraging other families to do the same. Your simple efforts will do much to advance the cause of Christ in your church and community, as God does a mighty work in and through your pastor’s life. May your prayers and those of many others in your church, along with expressions of kindness, care and appreciation, keep pastors and their families safe, joyful and productive for many years to the glory and honor of Christ Jesus, our Lord!
Kim Butts is a vice president of networks for Harvest Prayer Ministries. She is also the author of The Praying Family.