Praying for Your Pastor During the Pandemic
“I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a pastor during this pandemic.”
These are the words from several friends and church members who have expressed to me their sense of concern as I lead our church through the impact of the coronavirus. The calling and tasks that come with pastoral ministry are uniquely rewarding, yet uniquely challenging. The apostle Paul knew this tension well as he exhorted the churches he served to pray earnestly for him as he sought to glorify Christ in both life and death (Philippians 1:19-21).
There are many challenges that pastors can prepare for, but there are also immense trials that no pastor can prepare for as he cares for God’s people. It is impossible to communicate with words the heavy burden of the pastor who cares for the family who has unexpectedly lost a loved one. There is a shock factor in ministry that cannot be adequately explained when the faithful couple reaches out and tells you they are ready to end the marriage, “barring a miracle.” Similarly, the coronavirus has led to pastors around the world dealing with an unexpected question they were not ready for: “How do I pastor during a pandemic?”
Your Most Important Response
Pastors have been presented with a vast array of challenges brought upon them by the coronavirus. Christians desire to know how they can best serve their pastors as their church embraces new challenges and makes important decisions. And while there are many great things you can do for the pastor who leads and cares for your soul, the greatest action you can take for your pastor is to pray for him (Hebrews 13:17).
While there are many great things you can do for the pastor who leads and cares for your soul, the greatest action you can take for your pastor is to pray for him (Hebrews 13:17).
The greatest pastor the world has ever known, pastor Paul, was committed to requesting prayer from the churches he led. Throughout his letters, Paul knew that the prayers of God’s people strengthened him even from afar. While James portrays the prayer of the righteous person working with great power, Paul portrays for us the prayer of the righteous church working with great power (James 5:16; Ephesians 3:20-21). The Holy Spirit promises to strengthen and sustain your pastor as you pray for him during the coronavirus pandemic.
While James portrays the prayer of the righteous person working with great power, Paul portrays for us the prayer of the righteous church working with great power (James 5:16; Ephesians 3:20-21).
Perhaps the most unique place we see Paul’s request for prayer is at the end of Ephesians, a portion of Scripture often remembered for the way Paul describes the war of the believer “against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). What is often missed is the humble plea from Paul to pray for him as he is imprisoned for the cause of Christ:
“…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 (Ephesians 6:19-20).”
His requests are simple, yet deeply profound: pray for my heart, and pray for my preaching. As a pastor myself, I resonate deeply with these requests and want my church to earnestly pray for my heart and the proclamation of God’s gospel.
Pray For Your Pastor’s Heart
Paul’s request for prayer from prison is not from a heart of weakness, but a heart of worship. Paul calls them to look to Christ in their own fight against sin, but he also calls them to look to Christ as he asks them to pray for him. Paul joined them in their fight against the devil by praying for them, and their prayers would be a means of God’s grace to sustain him against the devil and the deep pain of loneliness from a prison cell. Some of Paul’s closest friends may have been the praying people he deeply loved in Ephesus.
Your pastor is currently walking through a season he has never before faced. Thousands of pastors are facing fears of the unknown, and the enemy is seeking to attack their heart and ministry. In moments like this, the enemy is tempting pastors with lies and accusations that may be brand new to them. He is prowling around seeking to use the coronavirus to distract your pastor away from trusting God and His Word (1 Peter 5:8). Pray that your pastor’s heart will find rest and security in the steadfast, eternal love of Christ and that His voice will silence the voice of the accuser (John 10:27-29).
Your pastor is currently walking through a season he has never before faced. Thousands of pastors are facing fears of the unknown, and the enemy is seeking to attack their heart and ministry. In moments like this, the enemy is tempting pastors with lies and accusations that may be brand new to them.
Pray for Your Pastor’s Preaching
Paul knew the vital importance of preaching. Whether free or in prison or at his death, he saw every season as an opportunity for the advancement of the gospel (Philippians 1:12-14). The primary way that Paul sought to advance the gospel was through declaring its power. Previously in Ephesians, Paul wrote that it was Christ who came and preached peace to each believer at Ephesus (Ephesians 2:17). It is that same power that Paul requests prayer for so he may proclaim boldly to the lost around him.
Preaching will always be one of the most vitally important aspects of any pastor’s life. One of the great challenges the coronavirus has brought to pastors is the extra time needed to address how their church is adapting with new plans and procedures for corporate worship gatherings. The sermon preparation process takes careful time and specific attention to detail. Likely, your pastor is spending countless hours away from family to prepare sermons due to the increased responsibilities of new challenges. Pray that the Holy Spirit would give your pastor fresh eyes and fresh strength to proclaim the word of God boldly so that His people would be edified and the lost would come to treasure Christ as their Savior.
The sermon preparation process takes careful time and specific attention to detail. Likely, your pastor is spending countless hours away from family to prepare sermons due to the increased responsibilities of new challenges.
As you pray for your pastor throughout this season, consider communicating your prayers to him. Share with him how you are praying for his heart and his family’s heart as well. Consider writing, by hand, a prayer of encouragement to him and his wife. Share with him how his sermon stirred your heart with hope to worship God in your pursuit of Him. Above all, pray for your pastor earnestly — God promises to use your prayers to strengthen him.
Copyright © 2020 Cary Hughes. All rights reserved.
Cary Hughes is the Senior Pastor at Living Grace Community Church in Cary, IL and has pastored churches in Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, LA, Cary is passionate about seeing pastors in the South lead their churches to pursue God through the ministry of the Word and prayer. For this reason, he dedicates one day a week to serve as a Regional Director for The 6:4 Fellowship. He is a graduate of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL. The best part of his life is his wife of ten years, Laura, and his children: Mirra Grace and Brock.