Over the past eleven weeks, our church has been studying through D.A. Carson’s book—Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation in Sunday school. That study nicely intersected with the end of Ephesians as Paul placed his focus on the need for prayer to be employed along with the whole armor of God. If prayer is so vital for the health of the individual Christian and the church as a whole—why is it continually neglected? Consider the reasons why you should be praying for your pastor on a weekly basis. If your church has multiple pastors, as our church does, don’t neglect praying for all of them as they serve you and your family on a weekly basis.
If Paul Needed Prayer—So Does Your Pastor
At the end of a powerful letter by the apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus and the surrounding cities, Paul calls upon the church to pray for him. Interestingly enough, the towering theological giant of the New Testament requested prayer for his words. Paul writes, “and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19). Paul was asking for the Christian community to pray for his words, so that he would have clarity of speech and bold speech when he was given opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
Over the years, I have talked with many people at conferences and different friends who have complained about their pastor’s sermons. As I was recently preaching through Ephesians, I came across Ephesians 6:19 and it made me consider the importance of praying for the pastor as he prepares to preach each week. Words matter. Clarity of speech is crucial in preaching. Boldness is a necessity for a gospel preacher. Prayer is central to the pastor’s ability to preach with power and without ambiguity.
Your Pastor Is Not Superhuman
Has it ever dawned upon you that your pastor is not superhuman? Often pastors are called to work 50-70 hours per week, and many of those hours are off-peak hours—working to accommodate the schedules and needs of the people within the church. Every person in the church should recognize the fact that their pastors are flesh and bone—real humans who need strength from the Holy Spirit to labor in the work of ministry. Paul came to the end of 1 Thessalonians and said, “Brothers, pray for us” (1 Thess. 5:25).
Many churches are served by bi-vocational pastors who are pulling many hours for their “9-5 job” and then many more hours in their study, prayer, and service of their local church. The work of a pastor is never finished. The work is often filled with discouragement, death, disease, and rare victories along the way. In short, the work of pastoral ministry is hard, and that’s why so many pastors quit along the journey. Don’t forget that your pastor is human. He needs your prayers.
Beyond the workload of a pastor is the need for his sanctification. How many parents desire their children to grow and mature physically? How many people expect to grow in the knowledge and skill of their occupation professionally? How many Christians expect to grow in their faith through the years? Why then do we expect our pastors to be superhero Christians who never grow and develop doctrinally? Shouldn’t the older Paul be more mature in his faith than the younger Paul? You should desire for your pastor to be growing spiritually and it would be wise for you to be praying for him in this process.
Your Pastor Is Watching for Your Soul
Have you ever heard someone ask their anesthesiologist if he slept well the night before their surgery? It’s a common question that you hear patients jokingly ask their doctor. Why, you ask? Because everyone wants a doctor who is alert and not distracted by mental fatigue. When it comes to your pastors, the ones charged with watching for your soul, you want a man who is alert and not suffering from distractions. In short, your pastors need prayer.
Immediately after explaining to the Hebrew believers that they should submit to their leaders who watch over their soul by obeying them, the writer to the Hebrews says, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things” (Heb. 13:18). Prayer is essential to the work of a pastor, and a church that doesn’t spend time praying for her pastors doesn’t understand that prayer and ministry are inseparably linked together.
Your Pastor Is Hated by the Devil
If your pastors are men who stand firm upon the Word of God and preach the gospel faithfully—they are not loved by the devil. In 1 Thessalonians 2:18, Paul writes the following, “because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.” It should be no secret that the devil hates the pastors who oversee and care for your local church. The plans, dreams, goals, sermons, prayers, and ambition of your pastors are often hindered by the work of spiritual warfare.
Jesus once said the following to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31). Do you recall the desire of Satan to test the sincerity of Job’s faith (Job 1)? The demonic beings, real and powerful, stand opposed to the work of your pastors on a daily basis. Have you spent time praying for your pastors? How would you feel if you discovered that your pastors weren’t praying for you? Would you feel neglected? Would you feel vulnerable? Why then, would you neglect praying for your pastors—the very ones given the charge of caring for you, leading you, feeding you, and watching over your soul?
Do you want your church to grow? Do you want to see souls saved in the community? Do you want to see your pastor’s sermons become more rich and clearly proclaimed? Do you want to see your church become more healthy and vibrant? All of this begins in prayer, and specifically, by praying for your pastors—those entrusted with leading the church forward. Alistair Begg writes:
Prayer is an acknowledgment that our need of God’s help is not partial but total… Yet many of our church prayer meetings have dwindled in size and influence. Ultimately, the explanation can be traced to spiritual warfare. If, as the hymn writer says, Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees,” then we may be sure that he and his minions will be working hard to discredit the value of united prayer. The Evil One has scored a great victory in getting sincere believers to waver in their conviction that prayer is necessary and powerful. 
- Alistair Begg, Made For His Pleasure, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 52.