By Dr. Mark A. Croston
People often see pastors as strong and confident, yet most of us haven’t seen anything like what the world is currently experiencing in our lifetimes.
In his work Lectures to My Students, Charles Spurgeon wrote:
As it is recorded that David, in the heat of battle, waxed faint, so may it be written of all the servants of the Lord.…Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy. There may be here and there men of iron, …but surely the rust frets even these…
Please remember pastors in your prayers. Here are 10 ways to pray for your pastor during this COVID-19 season in human history.
I’ve heard over and over people say about COVID-19, “This is the first time in history…” Well, it really isn’t. Just do your own search on “pandemics in history,” and you’ll see.
Pray your pastor keeps this crisis in its proper perspective. “Whatever is has already been…” (Ecclesiastes 3:15a)
It may take us a while to get through this. Twenty of the most significant pandemics in world history have each taken a year or two before they were past. This one may take time, but we’ll get past it.
Pray for patience. Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.”
Isaiah 26:3 encourages, “You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.”
Remember peace is not the absence of trouble, but confidence and calmness of body, mind, and spirit trusting in the power and grace of God.
Pray that God grant a peace like Philippians 4:7 that surpasses our ability to understand.
There are many people, families, and businesses under financial stress during this season.
If members are struggling financially, the church struggles financially and sometimes the pastor along with it.
Pray claiming the promise of Philippians 4:19: And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
The pastor is not alone. Whether good or bad, whatever affects him affects his wife as well.
Pray for your pastor’s spouse that she might be the kind of support, confidante, and companion needed during this time.
Pray that “Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come” (Proverbs 31:25).
Need I mention the pastor’s children?
Whether they are younger and missing school, older and missing work, or somewhere in between or maybe missing their health, the pastor can never do his best work for the community and the church while he is burdened by trying to meet the needs of his family.
7. Pastoral Skills
In times like this, a pastor must be both caring and daring. No seminary class has prepared us for this one.
We must think out of the box about the logistics of connecting with the congregation, caring for the sick, comforting the grieving, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and handling the online experience too.
Pray that your pastor will be more like a player-coach than a pretend Superman. There are minds in the congregation that can help him think, along with mouths, ears, hands, and feet that can help him act.
Paul said, “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13), but he was not saying we had to do them all alone.
8. Physical Wellness
Needless to say, when we’re sick it’s more difficult to be a help to others. Pray for your pastor to find balance, rest, good food, and his own self care.
I’m often reminded that Paul, the great apostle, kept the physician Luke with him. I’m sure Dr. Luke did more than write the books of Luke and Acts. Maybe his main job was keeping Paul healthy.
Sometimes our role in the expansion of the kingdom of God is caring for the one who leads us in the advance—our pastor.
Pray for the members of the church. Pray they remember that God is in control and that we can “cast all your cares on him, because he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7).
The pastor is always praying for the members of the church. If you would pray for them, you’re joining in your pastor’s work, which means when you’re praying for them, you’re indirectly praying for him.
This time requires a whole new kind of preaching from our pastors: preaching to empty pews; preaching to cyber-followers who may have never heard a sermon before or even stepped foot in a church; preaching to new, greater, and ever-changing needs.
We need to hear a fresh word from God.
We need to be reminded there’s still a balm in Gilead and that God is our light in the time of darkness. We need to know God is still a waymaker, He’s still on the throne, and that He still has all power in His hands.
We need to be reminded that God has been our help in ages past and is still our hope for years to come.
Pray that your pastor would not be so busy doing everything others can do, that he does not have time to do what he’s called to do, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 2:4a).
Dr. Mark Croston
Mark is the national director for black church partnerships at Lifeway Christian Resources.