It’s been over four months ago, but it still seems like yesterday. As the nation began to come to grips with the reality of a global pandemic, many businesses, organizations, and all major American sports shut down in a manner of hours. During the afternoon of March 13, a large group of pastors in my association gathered around a table to try and make sense of their rapidly changing circumstances. One seasoned pastor told me privately, “This is the most difficult challenge I have faced in over 30 years of pastoral ministry.”
A lot has changed since then, but one thing that hasn’t is the fact that pastors are some of my biggest heroes. They certainly deserve our gratitude for the way they’ve led during the pandemic, but they also need our ongoing prayer support. Here are 9 reasons why your pastor may need your prayers now more than ever:
- Praying for your pastor is biblical. Paul asked the church at Ephesus to “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). Similarly, the writer of Hebrews says, “Pray for us, for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything. And I urge you all the more to pray that I may be restored to you very soon” (Hebrews 13:18-19). When you pray for your pastor, you’re following a pattern that’s been around as long as the church itself.
- Your pastor is forced to make difficult decisions. Think about all the tough decisions he has had to make over the past few months. In-person services or online only? Masks or no masks? One Sunday service or two? Sunday School or not? Require temperature checks or not? Offer childcare or not? Listen to government recommendations or not? Never before has a pastor faced so many difficult choices in such a short amount of time. Pray the Lord will give him wisdom as he continues to make the tough calls in the days ahead.
- Your pastor may second-guess his decisions. No pastor has previous experience leading a church through a pandemic. There was no class on this in Bible college or seminary. These are unchartered waters for everyone, including your pastor. Therefore, there’s a good chance he has second-guessed (at least) some of his decisions, especially when others openly disagree with him. Therefore, pray the Lord will give your pastor peace with the decisions he makes.
- Your pastor is enduring criticism. No matter what decisions he makes during this pandemic (and any other time in ministry for that matter), your pastor can’t please everyone. Some will be unhappy and will criticize him for it, both publicly and privately. Pray that he does not allow his critics to have too much influence as he considers what is best for the whole congregation.
- Your pastor is concerned for the flock. Your pastor has a God-given calling and responsibility to shepherd your soul. This pandemic has made that task much more difficult. To complicate matters further, recent studieshave shown that some of the flock have wandered off over the past few months. Without sufficient knowledge of which church members are straying, your pastor may feel like he is leading while blind-folded. Therefore, pray for your pastor and his daily concern for your church.
- Your pastor may be experiencing information overload.Without a doubt, your pastor has had to become a quick learner over the past few months. Online services. Online giving. Payroll protection. Drive-in services. Radio transmitters. Social distancing. Mask suppliers. The list could go on and on. Pray that your pastor has enough mental energy to focus on his primary task of preparing and preaching biblically faithful sermons.
- Your pastor is susceptible to the coronavirus. Your pastor is just as susceptible to COVID-19 as anyone else. He may even be in the vulnerable category, and yet he still faithfully ministers to the congregation each week. Pray that the Lord will continue to protect his physical health.
- Your pastor probably needs a vacation. I’ve read several articles recently about the potential burnout of many pastors as this pandemic drags on. Pray that your pastor takes a vacation to rest and recharge. You might also pray about giving him some extra vacation time as well!
- Your pastor is under tremendous pressure. The previous eight reasons place an enormous amount of pressure on your pastor. Some of this pressure is internal and some of it is external. But all of it is real, as Paul makes clear in 2 Corinthians 11:28, “Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches.” Pray that your pastor is able to deal with this pressure in healthy ways.
There are several other reasons why you should pray for your pastor, but I’ll stop here. While these reasons are true any time, they have been magnified over the past few months. Take a few minutes right now and pray for your pastor. He may need your prayer support more now than ever before!
If you’re reading this and you are a pastor, thank you for your faithful service! Please know that many prayer warriors are interceding for you right now. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and keep pressing on!