I meet regularly with a group of pastors and preachers from a vast variety of churches here in the Lodi, CA area for a time of prayer. I was asked to “lead” our prayer time this morning. We began by all sharing a “Good God Moment” in our life and/or the life of our congregation where we serve. It was a pretty awesome time of sharing some really awesome God stuff!
Then shared a list of 9 ways we could / should pray for each other (which I adapted from “Nine Ways to Pray for Church Leaders” by Chuck Lawless). We read over the list, I’ll attache below, and each prayed as they felt moved to do so. It was a great time of prayer and I felt truly refreshed and re-energized from out time spent together this morning.
Let me share these nine ways with y’all and I would ask that you pray these for me, for yourself and/or for your church leaders and staff.
1. Pray we will keep our eyes on God.
King Jehoshaphat faced three combined enemy armies, and he did not know what to do – except to lock his eyes on God. That’s the answer any time we have no clue about next steps.
“For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to You.” (2 Chron. 20:12, HCSB)
2. Pray we will not take a step apart from God’s leading.
Moses prayed this prayer when God would send only an angel to lead His people after their fiasco with the golden calf. He would rather the people not start the journey if God Himself were not leading them.
“If Your presence does not go,” Moses responded to Him, “don’t make us go up from here.” (Exod. 33:15)
3. Pray we will beware of relying on our own strength.
David, who knew the Lord is the one who fights for him (1 Sam. 17:47), trusted in his own might when he took a census of the Hebrew armies. Recognizing his sin, he prayed a prayer most leaders need to pray at some point:
“I have sinned greatly in what I’ve done. Now, Lord, because I’ve been very foolish, please take away Your servant’s guilt.” (2 Sam 24:10)
4. Pray we will be wise in leading God’s people.
When Solomon might have asked for much more, he instead asked God to give him a “listening heart” as he governed the people of God. All of us who lead congregations need this wisdom.
“So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kgs. 3:9)
5. Pray we will weep over the sin and failures of God’s people.
The best shepherds are those who genuinely grieve the spiritual brokenness of the people they lead. Like Nehemiah when he heard about the damaged walls of Jerusalem, they are themselves broken when they see the results of spiritual decline.
“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Neh. 1:4)
6. Pray we’ll know when to push away from the crowds to pray.
Ministry is time-consuming, and needs are ever before us. Nevertheless, as leaders we must have time alone with God to be renewed for the work – just as Jesus did.
“But the news about Him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16)
7. Pray we will walk worthy of our calling.
If we pray more for church leaders today, it’s likely fewer will fall tomorrow. We must pray they walk in obedience and bear fruit, just as Paul prayed for the Colossian believers:
“we haven’t stopped praying for you . . . so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:9-10)
8. Pray we will speak the gospel boldly.
Paul wrote from a prison cell – his punishment for preaching the Word – but still he sought prayer support to continue his evangelizing. If Paul needed such prayer, surely church leaders do today.
“Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” (Eph. 6:19)
9. Pray we will finish well.
Those church leaders who finish well PLAN to do so; that is, they choose from the beginning to stand against the devil and glorify God. Pray that we can one day echo these words of the Apostle Paul:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7).