dan reiland

The Prayers of a Pastor

I don’t usually copy and paste articles verbatim, but this one by Dan Reiland was amazing. If you are a pastor, read and be encouraged.

If you know a pastor, pray for them… it’s a burden to carry even though the call of God on one’s life is amazing. May we reach others with a message of compassion, love, and the gospel of Jesus Christ!

—————– used by permission ——————-

“Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob. Selah 9 Look upon our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. 10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.” ~ Psalm 84:8-12, NIV

As I meditated over these words in Psalm 84 it struck me that we as pastors pray this kind of prayer hundreds if not thousands of times over the course of our ministry.

You can hear the plea of passion – “Hear my prayer” – “Listen to me.” Isn’t this at the core of what you want? You want God to hear your prayer and you want to hear His response. This is the beauty of communion with the Creator. It is the blessing of being in relationship with the Father. And it is, in fact, how we receive guidance, direction and power from the Holy Spirit.

“Look with favor” – These words are not just for special occasions. This is the daily cry of our hearts. We constantly seek the Lord’s favor for our church and our leadership that His Kingdom may be advanced! Praise and worship is carried in the acknowledgement of who God is as “Almighty,” and “Sun and Shield”. He is our everything! A heart of gratitude is declared, “I would rather be a doorkeeper…” We must always remember our servant status and that being a pastor is a great privilege. And the conditions are made plain. “No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” And, “Blessed is the man who trusts you.” We are required to live a life of integrity and trust in God!

Many Christians may pray a prayer like this, but surely it is the prayer of a pastor! This got me thinking about the kinds of prayers a pastor prays. Let me first say that it is not my intention to get mechanical or boxy about a pastor’s prayer life. If you are a pastor, your prayer life knows no boundaries except that which God Himself may place upon you. You are free to pray as the Spirit leads. That said, however, it seems to me that there are a few kinds of prayers that are common to pastoral life. They are:

  • Prayers of Duty
  • Prayers of Pain
  • Prayers of Vision
  • Prayers of Compassion
  • Prayers of Gratitude

My hope is that this article will serve as a tool to help you reflect on your prayer life. You may tend to focus on one kind of prayer over the others. Or perhaps there is an absence of a kind of prayer that you believe should be more prevalent. And if so, the Spirit may prompt you to pray differently in some way. Here’s a closer look at these kinds of prayers that pastors pray.

Prayers of Duty
This is not as negative as it may sound. Prayers of duty are not about routines and ruts. These prayers are not faithless words from one who expects little. Prayers of duty find their way into the seasons of a pastor’s life when he or she is in a spiritual dry-spell. All pastors experience this. The good news is that God can and will breathe life back into your spiritual intensity and communion with Him will be refreshed. But sometimes you must wait. You may pray without hearing an answer to that prayer for days or weeks or even months. You return to your knees because it’s the right thing. Don’t give up. God has not forsaken you. The clarity and sweetness of His voice will return. Don’t beat yourself up about a dry-spell. Don’t let the Enemy tell you that your ministry is over. Don’t over-think the reasons why this is happening. Reflection on your life and leadership is good, but seeking the Lord’s presence is better.

Prayers of Pain
You may sense the closeness of God’s presence and power. You know and obey His voice, yet you face trouble, problems and heartache. This is not uncommon territory for a pastor. Perhaps you have physical pain and are in need of healing. It might be emotional pain over an important relationship in your family or church body. It may be more about leadership and your ministry. A pastor friend called me yesterday and poured out his heart about the huge financial burdens his church is bearing. He confessed that he doesn’t know what to do. We know this kind of prayer. They aren’t our favorite moments but God uses these prayers for His good and glory. When we are desperate we remember that it’s really all about God and His will and Kingdom. We remember that without Him we can do nothing. I don’t believe that God sends the pain, but He does allow it. And when He answers this prayer, our faith is increased.

Prayers of Vision
As pastors we love these prayers! Visionary prayers are the prayers of leaders, but they require no little effort, and they are the easiest prayers to miss on motive. It can be difficult to discern between our agenda and God’s agenda. That’s a big part of this prayer, staying fully submitted to and aligned with God’s heart and plan. We plead for conversions / baptisms, changed lives, new land and new territory, favor with the people, and a leader’s best friend – momentum. We pray that our prayers and our faith are not too small! We pray for large resources so that the vision may be realized, which means we pray for the people to mature to full followership of Christ so they will want to give to Kingdom matters. Prayers of vision are exhilarating, but they are hard work. They never end. The moment we get close to a vision being realized, we are on to the next one!

Prayers of Compassion
This is a pastor’s heart, a heart for the people. Ultimately I want to see people saved and mature in their faith. I’m sure you do to. This is connected to a prayer of vision, but this is more personal. The prayer of vision is seeing the big picture advance. It is seeing the body of Christ make progress. It’s about big and often new ideas. This prayer is about individual people. It is about conversions, one name at a time. It’s about those who are sick, living in broken marriages, lonely people, hurting people, confused and misguided people, needy and impoverished people, addicted people, and the list goes on. It’s overwhelming. Jesus doesn’t call you to reach everyone, but He does hold you responsible to reach some. These prayers are for healing of all kinds and for help to reach the people He has placed within the scope of your ministry.

Prayers of Gratitude
No matter what the circumstances, how can we not pray prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude? I’m currently reading a biography of Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China. Whoa, that guy was amazing. His life completely humbles me. All that he sacrificed and endured for the sake of serving the Savior is staggering. And throughout his ministry he counted it not sacrifice, but privilege. What are you thanking God for? The price He paid for you in the person of His Son Jesus? For all that He has given you? As pastors we must be careful of comparison. If we compare upward we fall short and begin to complain of what we don’t have. If we compare downward, we can fill up with pride about how good we are. It’s best not to compare. Just stay on track with the work Jesus has given you to do. Pray specific prayers of gratitude daily, and thank God for even the smallest of blessings.

What a gift prayer is! At times it’s beyond our comprehension – actually talking with the Creator of the universe. But it’s true! Pray on pastor!

“This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland’s free monthly e-newsletter, “The Pastor’s Coach,” available at www.INJOY.com.”