Are You Praying for Your Pastor?

(Pastor Rich Hamlin is on vacation with his family this week and Lord willing will return next week.)

The Puritans abounded in preachers like Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), Richard Baxter (1615-l691), John Owen (1616-1683), Thomas Watson (d. l686), John Flavel (1627-1691), Jonathan Edwards (1702-1758), and that later Puritan, “prince of preachers,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892). One doesn’t have to read much of their works to notice that prayer was an important element of their ministry–if not the most important. So the question is: “Are you praying for your pastor?”

I have a pretty good idea the pastors that are preaching God’s Word each Sunday are seeking prayers from you just like Paul did from the Ephesian church:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:18-20)

Paul needed their prayers as he both defend the gospel and attacked those who reacted against it. Your pastor is in the same position–he is invading the enemy’s territory as he proclaims “the mystery of the gospel.” In the classic Puritan work, The Reformed Pastor, Richard Baxter instructs pastors to perform their ministerial work “diligently and laboriously.” And how can they do that if you are not praying for them? They need our prayers! Baxter goes on telling pastors how to carry out that work:

We are seeking to uphold the world, to save it from the curse of God, to perfect the creation, to attain the ends of Christ’s death, to save ourselves and others from damnation, to overcome the devil, and demolish his kingdom, to set up the kingdom of Christ, and to attain and help others to the kingdom of glory. And are these works to be done with a careless mind, or a lazy hand? O see, then, that this work be done with all your might! Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow;…Let Paul’s words ring continually in your ears, ‘Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!’ Ever think with yourselves what lieth upon your hands: ‘If I do not bestir myself, Satan may prevail, and the people everlastingly perish, and their blood be required at my hand. By avoiding labor and suffering, I shall draw on myself a thousand times more than I avoid; whereas, by present diligence, I shall prepare for future blessedness.’ No man was ever a loser by God.1

About a hundred years later this same theme was expressed by John Newton in a letter to Captain Alex Clunie as he asks for his prayers because of the great task he saw as he preached to his church:

How fast the weeks return—we are again upon the eve of a Sabbath. May the Lord give us much of his own Spirit on his own day. I trust I have a remembrance in your prayers. I need them much—my service is great. It is, indeed, no small thing to stand between God and the people—to divide the word of truth aright—to give every one portion—to withstand the counter tides of opposition and popularity—and to press those truths upon others, the power of which, I, at times, feel so little of in my own soul. A cold, corrupt heart is uncomfortable company in the pulpit. Yet in the midst of all my fears and unworthiness, I am enabled to cleave to the promise, and to rely on the power of the Great Redeemer. I know I am engaged in the cause against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail. If He died and rose again, if He ever lives to make intercession—there must be safety under the shadow of his wings: there would I lie. In his name I would lift up my banner, in his strength I would go forth, do what he enables me, then take shame to myself that I can do no better, and put my hand upon my mouth, confessing that I am dust and ashes, less than the least of all his mercies.2

The task of proclaiming “the mystery of the gospel” has not altered in over 2,000 years and the enemy is still throwing up barriers to prevent your pastor from fearlessly proclaiming the gospel. He needs your prayers as he struggles to rightly divide Scripture for every sermon and live his life in a holy fashion. He needs your daily prayers so that as an “ambassador in chains” he may declare it fearlessly, as he should. So, I ask again, “Are you praying for your pastor?”

Chris Nyland
July 21, 2011

1Richard Baxter. The Reformed Pastor (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), 112.

2John Newton. “Letter XL,” The Christian Correspondent or a series of Religious Letters, written by The Rev. John Newton to Captain Alex. Clunie, from the year 1761, to the death of the latter in 1770 (Hull: Printed by George Prince, 1790). While Newton was in the Caribbean islands he met a ship captain, Alexander Clunie. Newton was a Christian but had not grown in the faith. Clunie was an older man and a mature Christian who disciplined Newton and later introduced him to a pastor in London. They maintained a lifetime friendship.



1 comment

  1. I once had a beloved pastor who had this observation after being a preacher for ten years. “The pastoral ministry is relentless,” every seven days you are expected by the people, and responsible by your call to preach a sermon and lead Gods people in worship, regardless of performing a wedding, a funeral, unexpected calls to the hospital, crisis counseling sessions, personal health or family issues, etc. Our Pastors do need to be held up and encouraged by the faithful prayers of the saints.

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