People who are students of church trends are making dire predictions about what church life will be like after the pandemic. Many predictions have to do with what will happen to church leaders. One person predicted that one-half of our pastors will leave the ministry because of the pressures imposed on them by the impact of the pandemic. While I cannot agree with that assessment, I will say that pastors need and deserve the fervent prayers of their church family. We expect them to pray us through our trials and they should count on us to pray them through their trials.
Jesus knew the first of His Apostles would need prayer. Luke 22:32 (NLT) “But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.” Peter needed prayer. Pastors today are no different.
Jesus knew the human tendency to run from difficult situations. His whole first class of Apostles were susceptible to run when the going got tough. Mark 14:27 (KJV) “And Jesus saith unto them, ‘All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’”
It seemed that Jesus wanted people to pray for Him. He took His three closest disciples with Him into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. (not sleep)
The Apostle Paul often asked prayer for himself. Romans 15:31, Ephesians 6:19 (NIV) “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,”
Some of how society deals with disagreement has spilled over into the church. Disagreement ends not with discussion and resolution but with hostility and animosity. Division in the church has always existed but probably not over as many different things as we have today. There are racial, moral, political, theological, and social issues about which our memberships are divided.
In many churches critical decisions are having to be made over staff, finances, health and safety issues, schedules, facilities, and planning for the future. Pastors who serve in churches strongly oriented to gauging the pastor’s effectiveness by numbers will be in trouble. This is a powerful pressure on some.
The pastor and his family have to face all of the issues other families face. The pandemic has heightened stress related to every aspect of family life.
WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY? Pray for grace for them to be focused and steadfast in the task God has given them. Pray for wisdom to be given for prioritizing their work and balancing their study, family, and ministry time. Pray for spiritual insight into the times and for the courage to speak God’s truth. Pray that they will be given grace to be patient, confident, and hopeful. Pray that their spiritual, mental and emotional health may be protected. Why not pray with the pastor as well as for the pastor and his family?
This article was written by Don Moore, the Prayer Ambassador for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.