Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Four Ways You Should Pray for Your Pastors

One of the greatest joys in my life is serving as pastor of the Summit. But ministry can be both messy and exhausting. That’s why I am so thankful for the prayer warriors in our congregation. I truly believe that one of the main reasons the Summit has grown is simply that God has answered the bold prayers of those in our congregation. The most important ministry anyone in our church can be involved in is that of prayer.

We believe the church is God’s Plan A and the hope for the world. As a leader of a church, that is humbling, so I always appreciate when people ask me, “How can we pray for you?” In fact, I get the question often enough that I thought I’d answer it publicly. Here are four very practical ways (inspired by James MacDonald) that you can be praying for your pastors:

1.     Pray that we will make God’s Word fully known. 
Colossians 1:25, “I became a minister [of the church] according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known.” 

Before we are your leaders and pastors, we are your servants. The call to pastor is the call to wash the feet of those you serve. My preaching is meant to be for your service and for God’s glory, not for my platform. There is no greater way that we as pastors can serve you than to give you God’s Word, which Jesus calls our daily sustenance.
Pray that as we serve, preach, teach, and counsel in our community, that God’s Word would be made fully known in the hearts and minds of those who hear.

2.     Pray that we will reprove, rebuke and exhort people with great patience.

2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

Exhorting people is fun and energizing, especially when they are on board with your vision. Reproving and rebuking? Not so much. But another word for pastor is “shepherd,” and a good shepherd would never stand by and watch wolves take out his sheep. In the same way, you can pray that we are able to reprove those who are straying, rebuke those who are divisive, and exhort those who are in need of encouragement – all in a way that is winsome and reflective of the patience that God has with us.

3.     Pray for sound doctrine.

Titus 1:9, “Hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

There is nothing more dangerous in the church than false doctrine. Part of the danger comes from the fact that a lot of false doctrine can be really popular. If I preached “10 Steps to Your Best Life Now!” we could draw some great crowds, but sound doctrine comes from Scripture, not from pragmatism. There is a great temptation to preach and
tell people what we think will make them feel better – but God’s Word alone is what changes lives.

Pray that we do not succumb to the temptation to grow a crowd, but that we teach sound doctrine from the “Word [that] is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

4.     Pray that we will openly and unapologetically share the truth.

2 Corinthians 4:2 “By setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”

If you have never been offended by the gospel, you have never truly heard the gospel. The gospel, by its very nature, is offensive. It strips away everything we think we need, leaving us feeling completely helpless and exposed. But it then clothes us in the love and acceptance of Christ, giving us comfort, purpose, and strength that we could never have dreamed of. If we refuse to let the gospel expose our wounds, we’ll never feel the healing that Christ offers. 

Pray that we share the gospel message boldly and unashamedly in our community. The gospel of grace does what nothing else can—it transforms us from the inside out. May we never move beyond it

J.D. Greear is the lead pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (2011) and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved (2013).