As Christians, we know we ought to pray. But often our prayers can be pretty generic—“Lord, be with Bill.” God’s presence isn’t a bad thing to pray for. But why should God be with Bill? How can he be with Bill? What should result from God being with Bill? In my experience as a pastor, this holds true as well. Many members seem unclear on how they can best pray for me. There are numerous things we can say here. But let me limit things to a handful of specific ways you can pray for a pastor on Sunday morning.
I’m a firm believer in praying Scripture. And while all of it can be turned into prayer, I find it especially helpful to consider the requests lifted up by Jesus and apostles. When those request are universally applicable, we should probably pray for the same thing. So we begin at the end of Ephesians 6 in this post. There Paul exhorts the Church to pray for all believers with all kinds of prayers, then asks that they specifically pray for him. He says, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph 6:18-20). The immediate context is gospel proclamation in a missions setting. However, I think a broad application can be made to all preaching. The first three prayer points comes from Paul’s request in these verses.
1. Pray His Preaching Is Full
Paul asks that words be given to him. The best pastors spend a generous amount of time preparing to preach on Sunday. But even with the best of preparation, there can be life circumstances and church issues that threaten to distract him on Sunday mornings. Pray that words would be given to him. Pray that his mind would be full of God’s word. Pray he would know how to explain and apply that word.
2. Pray His Preaching Is Bold
Twice Paul says that his proclamation should be bold. I take this to mean that he should not shy away from what should be said. While there can be an overzealousness that leads pastors to speak harshly, most pastors struggle more with timidity. It’s easy to dance around sensitive issues and not say what should be said. Certainly, pastors should speak the truth in love. But pray he is bold with God’s word.
3. Pray His Preaching Is Christ-Centered
Paul desires to declare the mystery of the gospel. He wants to declare the coming of Christ in fulfillment of God’s promises as a Savior for all people, not just his Israelite countrymen. He did this from the Old Testament in synagogues and in churches. Pray that your pastor is able to preach the whole counsel of God in ways that highlight the glory of the gospel of Christ. Pray that Jesus is held up as the object of saving faith.
4. Pray His Preaching Is Clear
I take this prayer point from a request similar to Ephesians 6. This time it comes in Colossians 4. Paul says “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Col 4:2-4). The mystery of the gospel is there. The chains are there. But this time, clarity is the request rather than boldness. Actually, I think these requests complement each other well. Who cares if the preacher is bold if you cannot understand what he’s on about? Rather than expecting cleverness, pray that your pastor is clear in his preaching.
5. Pray His Preaching Is Effective
Moving back to chapter 1 in Colossians, Paul says his aim in ministry is to “present everyone mature in Christ” (Col 1:28). The way he does is by proclaiming Christ, “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom . . . . struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col 1:28-29). Here we glean our last prayer point. Pray that your pastor preaches in such a way that Christ is presented boldly and clearly from all the Bible so that those hearing can be brought to spiritual maturity. Pray that as he preaches, he relies on the power of God’s Spirit rather than his own abilities.