Many years ago, someone asked Charles Spurgeon why he was so successful. His response? “Because my people pray for me.”
In an issue of Our Daily Bread, there’s a story about travelers to London who stopped at Spurgeon’s church to hear him preach. They were greeted at the door and offered a tour.
“Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?” asked the gentleman who greeted them. They were not particularly interested because it was a summer day in July, but not wanting to offend the stranger, they consented.
The gentleman led the visitors down a stairway to a basement door. After the door quietly opened, their guide whispered, “This is our heating plant.”
Surprised, the visitors saw 700 people praying, seeking a blessing on the service soon to begin in the auditorium above.
Softly closing the door, the gentleman introduced himself. It was Charles Spurgeon, the pastor of the thriving Metropolitan Tabernacle.
While many today know Spurgeon as a powerful preacher of the gospel who we often call the “Prince of Preachers,” he knew where the power was – prayer.
Most pastors don’t have 100 in attendance on any given Sunday. According to the 2020 Faith Communities Today study and the 2019 Annual Church Profile, 65% of all U.S. congregations and 67% of Southern Baptist Churches average less than triple digits. So, the average pastors won’t have 700 people praying under their sanctuary each week.
However, they can still ask their people to pray for them. During the height of COVID-19, I asked several people who couldn’t join us in person to pray specifically and passionately on Sundays from their homes. And they did.
By the end of my time serving our church, we averaged more in attendance and baptized more people than ever before. Why? I firmly believe I can say with Spurgeon, “Because my people prayed for me.”
Here are five ways to pray for your pastor as we kick off a new year.
Pray for his family.
Pastors wear a lot of hats, but if he’s married with children, none are as crucial as husband and dad. Take some time to pray for his home, his first ministry.
Ask God to help him love and lead his family well, making the most of his time in the home. Ask the Lord to give him the courage to put off the trivial matters of ministry, so he’s fully engaged as the husband and father God calls him to be.
Helpful scriptures to guide prayer here are Ephesians 5:25 and Psalm 127:3-5.
Pray for his schedule.
It’s easy for your pastor to feel tugs from every direction, especially as a new year begins.
He’s trying to prepare engaging sermons, has people to visit in the hospital, worries home-bound members will fall through the cracks, and is attempting to follow up with all the holiday visitors.
Pray that God will help him manage his schedule well enough to spend time with his family and lead his church family at the start of a new year.
Helpful scriptures to guide prayer here are Ephesians 5:15-17 and Psalm 90:12.
Pray for his sermon preparation.
Speaking of your pastor’s schedule, he’s likely working hard in the study to prepare fresh sermons, either by continuing an old series or launching a new one.
Pray that God gives him focus and perseverance in sermon prep, as well as clarity and wisdom as he aims to rightly handle the Word of God.
Helpful scriptures to guide prayer here are 2 Timothy 2:15 and Psalm 119:18.
Pray for his preaching.
Your pastor prepares sermons in the study, but he preaches them in the pulpit. As the new year dawns, some folks may consider visiting a church for the first time or returning after a long absence.
Pray God will fill him with passion and conviction as he declares the Good News to encourage the saints and lead the lost to love and follow Jesus.
Helpful scriptures to guide prayer here are Hebrews 4:12 and Mark 16:15.
Pray for his walk with God.
None of the above will matter if your pastor isn’t walking with God. If he’s not spending daily time with the Lord, his family, preaching and everything else will suffer.
As silly as it may sound, pray that your pastor will wake up even before his alarm goes off with one thing in mind: time with God.
Pray that he will devote himself to prayer and Bible reading first and foremost before he even begins his day of ministry and family time.
Helpful scriptures to guide prayer here are Philippians 4:6 and Psalm 119:9.
E.M. Bounds once said, “What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.”
That’s not new, of course; even the apostle Paul asked for prayer not once, but eight times: Romans 15:30-32; 2 Corinthians 1:10-11; Ephesians 6:18-20; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; and Philemon 22.
It was so important to Jesus’ disciples that they asked Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1), and it should be important to you, too. As we begin 2022, join the disciples, Paul’s churches, and Spurgeon’s church by praying for your pastor.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Matt Henslee is association mission strategist for the Collin Baptist Association in Texas.)