One of the greatest decisions I ever made as a new Lead Pastor was for an intercessory team. I saw it as a priority my mentor (props to Joel Stocker) and it was one of the first things Anne said we needed to establish when we got to Kalamazoo. Very early in our tenor here, I knew I needed to connect with our senior adults AND I needed intercessors. Why shouldn’t these amazing veterans of faith be our Aaron and Hur? Who better to share our burdens than those who carry so much depth of prayer and experience than them?
We meet every first Thursday of the month. Yes, the team does pray over us, but the time is primarily the launching point for praying over us for the month. The hour has very little to do with any needs of the greater church community but everything to do with me, my marriage/family, and the ministry we are a part of. We have one rule: What happens at Pastor’s Prayer, stays at Pastor’s Prayer. That means no one talks about the contents of our prayer time with anyone in the congregation outside of our hour. They take that rule seriously which boosts my trust and confidence in them.
Over the past six years of meeting with them (I call them Pastor’s Prayer team), they have taught me a few things about how people should pray for their pastor. This isn’t a brag-fest of anything I am doing. These are the lessons my senior adult intercessors have taught me:
1 – Keep YOU out of it. I can’t pinpoint a time where I’ve heard them pray from a selfish perspective. “Lord give Pastor Dave revelation to feed us on Sundays” or “Give Pastor Dave and Anne wisdom/direction/insight so we can have better __________ here at the church.” Don’t pray with consumeristic words focused on your pastor receiving something from God ONLY so you and/or the congregation can get something from him/her. Remove what YOU want see happen at the church and speak ONLY the will, vision, and direction of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.
2 – Walk in gratitude. I can’t say I always “feel” very successful. I have seasons where I’m frustrated with myself and wonder why in the world Kfirst hired me. My prayer team will never full grasp how their prayers have encouraged me in some very dark moments. If I can be blunt, there are times I feel like a “tool” and their prayers laced with gratitude made me feel like a “gift.” Gratitude will do two things as you pray over your pastor. First, it helps your heart to be humble in prayer. Thanksgiving demands humility and it’s the way to enter God’s presence. Second, it will move you to a place of being an encourager. Silent gratitude is not gratitude at all. The Lord will drop things in your heart that you need to speak to your pastor to encourage him/her. Remember: Gratitude gives us altitude over our attitudes.
3 – Speak scripture over your pastor. I think it’s a powerful and safe way to pray. You know it’s powerful (because it’s God’s Word), and it’s going to be His will (again,because it’s His Word). When you speak over someone/something you are blessing and edifying. Biblically, you’re commissioning and calling out destiny. I marvel how awesome and faithful the Lord is. I can’t count the amount of times, during our monthly prayer, where someone has felt led to pray scripture over us and the Word that was read hit us with sniper accuracy. Get out your bible and use it to pray over your pastor.
4 – Respond to the Holy Spirit. So often, members of the team has pulled me aside or emailed me to let me know that the Holy Spirit spoke to them pray over us. I love that they are always ready to respond whenever the Holy Spirit gives them a nudging regardless of time of day. Don’t relegate praying for your pastor to a moment (or ANYONE for that matter). Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life and willing to respond when He prompts you to pray.
5 – Send encouragement to your pastor. Pastors can be lightning rods to a lot of crap going on that may or may not be his/her fault. That’s not to manipulate anyone in to feeling bad for pastors. It’s the nature of the position. Unfortunately, more than a few times, I’ve heard people, literally say of me and/or their pastor, “I was going to send a note of encouragement but you/they probably get those all the time and I don’t want you/them to get a big head.” (SMH) A very common comment that appears in letters, cards, emails, etc. from my prayer team is, “I was praying for you and the Lord wanted to me to send you this note of encouragement.” Edification is born out of intercession. Don’t send a note of flattery. Flattery is manipulation. Encourage, build-up, and strengthen your pastor.
If you’re looking for specifics, here’s a simple list of things to pray for your pastor when the Holy Spirit brings him/her to mind.
- …his/her marriage and family.
- …his/her passion for Jesus.
- …a fresh move of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.
- …to be driven by conviction of the Holy Spirit and not the criticism of people.
- …fun for him/her (pastor’s need leisure too).
This is what my prayer team has taught me. These are the amazing lessons I’ve learned that has prompted me to pray deeper and more consistently for my pastoral team, my district leadership, as well as other pastors. As they have challenged me, so I challenge you.
Don’t stand behind your pastor. Stand with them. Hold them up in prayer.
Thanks for letting me ramble…