We are coming off of our annual conference for pastors here in Minneapolis this February. It was a really sweet time of interacting with so many men who are faithfully pastoring small churches. Some large churches are represented, but most pastor pretty ordinary-sized churches. From the perspective of this conference and your interaction with the pastors recently, I want to turn the tables. Pastor John, if you can now speak to the churches these men pastor, why is it important for folks in churches to pray for their pastors?
One of the sweetest times and, really, for me one of the most tearful, moving times during our conference for pastors recently was setting aside time after the evening service and just saying, “We are available. We, the leaders of the conference are available.” And we lined up across the front of this huge auditorium and said, “If you want to go, you can go. If you want, you can linger and pray, or you can come up here and ask for prayer. And I was there probably praying for, maybe a half hour or 45 minutes with guys.
And these men told stories of crises in their churches, leadership, agonizing over the next steps, children who are very sick or rebellious. One pastor told me of a daughter who suffers from migraine headaches for six years now. She is fourteen, and she could just hardly stand the pain. They have gotten all the help they can from doctors and nobody can seem to put their finger on it. Another pastor told me his own health was fading so fast he didn’t know if he would live out the year, and he was trying to do his best in the ministry.
The People’s Prayers in Spiritual Warfare
So the cumulative effect of just listening to maybe ten pastors that evening just reawakened in me as a pastor, and as one who wants to care for pastors, the extraordinary battle that we are in at every level. The marriage is embattled. The children are embattled. The health is embattled. The faith is embattled. The gifts for ministry are embattled. Because we are in a spiritual war.
"I don’t think our people can give us anything more useful than to earnestly intercede with God on our behalf."
And Paul just makes it so plain that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness. Right there among all of the spiritual armor that we are supposed to put on, he says we ought to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18).
So we pastors desperately need our people to intercede earnestly for us that God would protect us, that God would provide for every need, that he would guard our families, that he would guard our marriages, that he would make us mighty in the Holy Spirit. So I don’t think there is anything our people can render to us that would be of greater use to us than to earnestly intercede with God on our behalf.