Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Best Thing to Do for Your Pastors and Elders: PRAY!

OK - here are two months' worth of suggestions on how to pray for your pastors and elders. Half of them (mixed all together) were taken from Nancy Leigh DeMosss' "31 Days of Praying for Your Pastor." the other half came from our journey with our church and from reading Tullian Tchividjian's Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

So, please use these prayers verbatim, as suggestions, as prompts -- but whatever you do, PRAY!

Month One:

Day 1. Pray that your pastors will love God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength. Pray that God's Spirit will work in their hearts in power and that they will value and follow biblical priorities. (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 6:33). pray for confidence and humility: that they would walk in power and authority to lead, all the while kneeling in humility as gentle shepherds who care for people’s souls.

Day 2. Pray that your pastors will understand more and more every day the magnificence of God, His sufficiency, His holiness, His love, His Justice, His sovereignty and His power.

Day 3. Pray that your pastors will cultivate strong character and uncompromising integrity. Pray that their testimony will be genuine, and that they will never do anything that they would need to hide from others. (1 Tim. 1:5, 3:7; Eph. 6:10-12)

Day 4. Pray that your pastors will delve into God's Word to understand the Gospel, and that God will drive the Gospel truth and all its implications into their hearts, souls and minds.

Day 5. Pray that their teaching, sermons and counseling will be consistent with the truth of the Gospel, and that they won't drift into moralism or performance or rule-keeping, etc.

Day 6. Pray for your pastors' personal walks with God, that each one's soul and spirit will be nourished and strengthened in their quiet times with God, beyond their sermon preparation. Pray that they will spend more time in the Word of God than reading Christian books and articles. (Mark 1:35; 2 Tim. 2:15-16) Pray that each will have God's heart of shepherding love for all the members of their flocks.

Day 7. Pray that your pastors will find in Jesus the everything that their hearts were designed to yearn for, in Him alone. Help them to discover the true riches of their glorious inheritance in Him and in His glorious Gospel. May these truths become part of their hearts and minds and that God will empower and infuse their preaching with them.

Day 8. Pray that our pastors will passionately treasure the Word and the Gospel, and that they would faithfully proclaim the whole counsel of God, and trust God the Holy Spirit to convict and convince the hearers.

Day 9. Pray that your pastors will counsel and teach with discernment through the wise use of Scripture and faith in God's power to work. Pray that they will be protected from the effects of sinful or negative attitudes that they encounter as they counsel. (Mal. 2:7; James 1:5-6; John 17:15).

Day 10. Ask God to protect your pastors' marriages and keep them strong as a model of Christ's relationship with the Church. Pray that your pastors will tenderly cherish and lead their wives, and that their wives will respect and encourage their husbands, submitting to their leadership. (Eph. 5:23-33) (If your pastor is not married, pray for his relationships with loved ones and those who are close to him.). Pray that they love and serve their wife and kids with gracious and glad hearts and that their family loves the church instead of hating it for stealing their daddy or husband away from them.

Day 11. Pray that God will protect your pastors' wives from bitterness when their husbands are criticized. Pray that each wife's prayer and devotional life will be consistent, intimate and transparent, and that she will guard her mind and heart. (Heb. 12:15; Prov. 4:23)

Day 12. Pray for your pastors' children, and especially that the pressures of the ministry will not discourage or embitter them. Pray that your pastors will provide godly leadership in the home, not based on fear of what others will think, but according to scriptural truth. (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:20-21) (If your pastor does not have children, pray that God will give him many "spiritual children" as he shares the Gospel.)

Day 13. Ask God to protect your pastors from the evil plots of Satan. Pray that they will not be corrupted as they rub shoulders with the world in the course of ministry. Pray that no root of bitterness will grow, that they will never be hardened by sin's deceitfulness, and that Satan will never get a foothold in their lives.

Day 14. Pray that God will build a hedge of protection around your pastors and their marriages, and that they and their wives will be aware of the potential for any improper relationships. Pray that their family time will be protected. (Ezek. 22:30a; 2 Cor. 10:4-5; Matt. 19:6)

Day 15. Praise God for your pastors' leadership and pray that they will make godly decisions. Pray that they each will lead with a shepherd's heart, and that they will always speak the truth in love. (1 Kings 3:9; 1 Pet. 5:2; Rom. 12:6-8; Jer. 3:15)

Day 16. Pray that God will bring godly friends and encouragers to your pastors and their families, to strengthen them for the ministry and provide meaningful fellowship and times of rest. (Phil. 2:19-25). Pray that God raises up people around them to assist them, mentor them, serve them, honor them, encourage them, pray for them, admonish them, and protect them.

Day 17. Pray that your pastors will seek to discern and the Holy Spirit will reveal to them who or what they are trusting in, other than Jesus, to gain acceptance or approval, to experience security and significance, to find meaning and purpose, to discover identity and direction. Give them ears to hear and eyes to see that these are nothing but worthless idols.

Day 18. Pray that your pastors will be humble and authentic in their faith, not given to pride, ambition or hypocrisy. Pray that they will have pure motives and give God glory for every gain or victory. (Micah 6:8; Gal. 6:14; John 7:17-18; 1 Cor. 10:13)

Day 19. Pray that your pastors will make wise lifestyle choices in order to protect their health, especially in the areas of exercise, eating moderately, and getting sufficient rest. Pray for times of relaxation and renewal to balance the stress of ministry. (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 9:27, 10:13, 6:19-20; James 3:1-2).

Day 20. Pray that your pastors will take time to have fun, do things they enjoy, waste time investing in a hobby that has nothing to do with ministry, date their wives and play with their kids, read good books and get away often to find peace in solitude.

Day 21. Pray that your pastors will focus on the Word of God and walk in the fear of the Lord, rather than fear of man, as they prepare messages. Pray that they will seek to please God rather than men, and pursue holiness rather than the praise of men. (Acts 6:4; Prov. 19:23; 2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 11:6; 2 Tim. 4:1-2). Pray they would always celebrate other ministers and their successes and never fall prey to envy, jealousy, insecurity, or comparison.

Day 22. Pray that your pastors will use discernment in use of e-mails, texting, the Internet, and the media. Ask God to guard their hearts concerning the use of free time. Pray that they will be morally pure and that they will wear the armor of God so that they will not fall into sexual temptation. (Rom. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:16; Eph. 6:10-18; 2 Cor. 10:4)

Day 23. Pray that your pastors will be courageous in the pulpit in proclaiming Christ, and confident in their use of the Word of God. Ask God to help them preach with insight, transparency and humility. Pray that their sermons would be accurate, true, powerful, convicting, bold, encouraging, creative, anointed, and Christ-centered. (Col. 1:28, 4:3a; Eph. 6:19)

Day 24. Pray for your pastors' wise and godly leadership of the staff and associate pastors, that they will work together for the common good, for the glory of God and the growth of the congregation in ways that matter to God.

Day 25. Pray that your pastors will be Great Commission men, committed to personal evangelism and the equipping of the saints to seek the lost. Pray that they will have hearts to develop thriving missions programs in their churches. (Rom. 10:15; Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 19:10)

Day 26. Pray for pure hearts, loving relationships, truthful and gracious communication among the elders, between pastors and elders and all the staff of the church. Pray that God will heal dysfunction, eradicate sin and establish His leadership over all of the elders, staff and pastors.

Day 27. Pray that your pastors will be men of prayer and worship, and that they will lead by example: teaching the congregation how to walk in a close relationship with the Father. (1 Thess. 5:17; Acts 1:14a; Matt. 4:10; Mark 1:35; Luke 22:46)

Day 28. Pray that your pastors will use wise time management, and that they will seek God's perspective for their schedules, guarding their time against unnecessary interruptions. (Eph. 5:15-16; Col. 4:5; Ps. 90:12; John 9:4)

Day 29. Pray for a fresh divine anointing on your pastors' ministries. Pray that God's working will be powerfully evident both in their personal lives and the spiritual life of the congregation. (1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Tim. 1:7; Rom. 15:18-19a).

Day 30. Pray that ministry, teaching, preaching, and leading will never become a chore for our pastors, but that it would always be a joy and a blessing to serve the Lord and His people with gladness, and that they would enjoy every aspect of leading, whether easy or hard, for the glory of God.

Day 31. Pray that your pastors will not give in to discouragement, but will deal with inevitable criticism and conflict by committing themselves into the hands of God, who judges righteously. (1 Pet. 2:23).

Month Two

Day 1. Pray that your pastors will practice servant leadership, edifying the congregation with wisdom and serving with God's agape love. (Gal. 5:13b; Eph. 6:7; Mark 10:43b-45, 9:23-24; John 13:5-9; Phil. 2:3-4)

Day 2. Pray for spiritual unity in the church staff and among the spiritual leadership of the church (elders, deacons, etc.), and that all would be fully united under the Truth and authority of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 12:25). Pray that the enemy will not be allowed to create divisions, strife, or misunderstanding among the church leaders.

Day 3. Pray that God will give your pastors a clear, biblical vision of what your church can be and should be for His glory; that they will communicate that vision clearly and confidently to the church. (Prov. 29:18; John 15:16, 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:5; Mal. 3:11); and that they will lead, preach, teach and pastor consistently with that vision.

Day 4. Pray that your pastors will seek God for personal revival, and revival in your church and community. (2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 69:32)

Day 5. Pray that your pastors will think biblically, with the mind of Christ. Pray that God will give them wisdom and discernment to preach and teach God's message rather than the wisdom or foolishness of men. (1 Cor. 2:16; Col. 2:6-8; Eph. 4:17)

Day 6. Pray that God would bring your pastors deeper into the Gospel, and that they would not add to it, or turn aside from it. Pray that they would receive Christ’s “It is finished” into new and deeper parts of their being every day, that the Holy Spirit will daily drive God’s good word of justification into their regions of unbelief—and so rely on and believe God's unconditional love for them, obtained through Jesus.

Day 7. Pray that your pastors will love and treasure God so much that they earnestly seek God's will and are committed to instant and complete obedience, ready for God to work powerfully in and through their ministries. (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Luke 9:23-24)

Day 8. Pray that your pastors will strive for personal excellence and will believe God for all He wants to do in the congregation. (2 Pet. 1:3; Col. 3:23-24)

Day 9. Pray that your pastors will be men of faith and passionate love for God, that they will recognize the idols in their lives, and not give in to worries, fears, or an uptight and anxious spirit. (1 John 4:18; Prov. 3:5-6)

Day 10. Ask God to provide for the financial needs of your pastors and their families. Pray that they will be wise stewards of both personal finances and church funds. (Phil. 4:19; Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:11; Ps. 37:25)

Day 11. Ask God to heal any hurts that your pastors may have suffered in the ministry. Pray that they will serve the Lord with gladness, and encourage the congregation to worship God with a joyful, surrendered spirit. (Is. 61:3)

Day 12. Pray that your pastors would tackle problems in the church with God's wisdom, vision, strength and courage, and that they would be passionate for God's glory and reputation rather than their own, or the church's, in the handling of church issues.

Day 13. Pray that your pastors would be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Day 14. Ask God to help your pastors seek to be strengthened with all power, according to God's glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, and that in so doing, they would give thanks to the Father, who has qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, not through any effort or performance of their own, but only through what Jesus has already accomplished for them.

Day 15. Ask God to cause our pastors to be filled with awe and wonder, and to see that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, that by Jesus Christ, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him, and that everything in their heart, soul, and mind would be aligned with that magnificent truth. Help them to know that, to really believe that.

Day 16. Pray that God would cause our pastors to see with eyes and ears that understand, that in Jesus Christ, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Jesus, all things, whether on earth or in heaven have been reconciled to God. Cause them to know that Jesus Christ has brought peace by the blood of his cross; pray that they would teach their congregations not only the past and future effects of that reconciliation, but also the NOW effects.

Day 17. Pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give our pastors a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which God has called them, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.

Day 18. Pray that according to the riches of God's glory he may grant your pastors to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith—that each one of them, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Day 19. Ask God to cause your pastors' sense of awe and wonder and worship to explode as they realize anew that they were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which they were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. Pray that their love for God will result in redognition and repudiation of any idols in their lives, anything that has become more important to them than Jesus' love and acceptance.

Day 20. Ask God to help our pastors see the danger in caving in to pressure to preach a moralistic or performance-based "gospel," and instead focus on who Christ is and what He has done. Help them to avoid the poison of self-absorption which undermines the power of the gospel in our lives. Help them to trust the love and grace of Christ.

Day 21. Pray that God will so transform our pastors and fill them with His mind that they will marvel at the truth that they have been raised with Christ, and that they will seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Pray that they will set their minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Cause them to know that in Jesus Christ, they have died, and their lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Day 22. Pray that God would cause your pastors to appreciate, rejoice and rest in what Jesus has done for them, and to engage in joyful worship, a sense of God’s reality in prayer, and to know deep down, all the way, that Jesus is more beautiful to their imaginations, more attractive to their hearts, than any idol. Pray that this mindset and perspective will be real, experiential, and thorough, thus replacing their counterfeit gods, so that they will uproot the idol and “plant” the love of Christ in its place, and that the idol will never grow back.

Day 23. Ask God to awaken our pastors' hearts to true worship of Himself: the submission of all of our nature to God, the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose--all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.

Day 24. Pray for the elder board, that every member would first consider himself to be accountable to God for the handling of church issues, and that they would so love Jesus Christ and His glory that His values and priorities would be their own, that is, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Pray that they would be passionate for God's glory, and helping the pastors to fulfill their God-given responsibilities.

Day 25. Pray that all of our pastors, teachers, elders, deacons and lay-leaders, would serve with glad hearts, grateful for their own forgiveness, for the reality of the daily power of the Gospel in their own lives, and that they would freely share those benefits with the congregation and their own families.

Day 26. Pray that our pastors would more fully know their identity in Christ, that they were dead in their trespasses and the uncircumcision of their flesh, and God made us all alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. Ask God to help them GET this, that Jesus set aside this indictment, nailing it to the cross, so that they believe with all their hearts that they stand justified on the basis of Christ's atoning death, not their own performance.

Day 27. Ask God to make our leaders, elders, pastors and teachers walk in a manner worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in His church, and us in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Day 28. Thank our Lord that He began a good work in our pastors, elders, and teachers, and will continue to perfect that good work until the day of Christ Jesus. Pray that their love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight so that they can discern what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

Day 29. Pray that if our pastors are ever feeling cast down in their souls for whatever reason, that they would fix their eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of their faith, that they would put their hope in Him, and remember the nature and character of the LORD God, that He is the One who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.

Day 30. Ask God to cause our pastors' love for and trust in the LORD God to grow stronger and deeper every day, and that they would dwell in the shelter of the Most High and therefore abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Pray that from their heart, they will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Day 31. Pray that the Holy Spirit and the Gospel would be the foundation, strength, and supporting power for our pastors, that they would each study to show themselves approved of God, workers who need not be ashamed; pray that their trust and understanding of God and His Word would enable them to discern error, cling to the Truth, and have a contagious passion for Jesus Christ.

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