I have a lot of friends who are pastors, and nearly 100% of them have told me this has been the hardest run of ministry they’ve ever experienced.
2020 dropped like an atomic bomb, blowing up plans and ministries and lives. Churches closed. Businesses bankrupted. Lay-offs skyrocketed. Tithes scaled back as income dried up. And that was only the beginning.
Then there were the maskers versus the anti-maskers. The protesters and the people protesting the protestors. The pastors I’ve listened to over the past year have been fighting battles they never saw coming while trying to serve God, love people, and rebuild from the COVID rubble.
It’s been a hard year for pastors. Pastors serve people, and it’s been a hard year for people. None of this is a surprise.
If I could pick one passage of Scripture to put inside the hearts of our pastors right now, it would be 2 Timothy 2:8-13. These words Paul wrote to pastor Timothy are special and supernaturally timely. I’ve begun using them as a short prayer list for pastors in this season.
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and descended from David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer to the point of being bound like a criminal. But the word of God is not bound. This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy: For if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.”
Beautiful. Let’s meditate on this passage as we pray for our pastors and all pastors around the world.
1. Pray that pastors remember Jesus Christ.
Lord, thank You for the work of Jesus. He is our only hope. And God, we intercede on behalf of the pastors of Your people, that You will help them remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. God, we pray that tonight or tomorrow or right now, they will go to You, not just for answers, but for the joy of being loved by You. Help our pastors remember the simple and life-changing truth that Jesus loves them and the people they shepherd. Help them remember they need You, have You, and that in You they have life in abundance. Give our pastors the joy of their salvation, God. Help them remember Jesus.
2. Pray that pastors believe the Word of God is not bound.
Lord, will You melt the hearts of our shepherds and strengthen their souls by Your Word? May they trust the Bible’s power to change even what looks most hopeless. God, let the church leaders in this season delight themselves in the law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night. Father, Your Word is not bound. Help pastors and those they serve trust the Bible to be the sharp sword they need and the blazing light for their path. Let us be devoted and surrendered to Your world-changing Word. It is not bound. We are not bound.
3. Pray that pastors endure all things for the elect.
Father, will You help our pastors endure? Help them hold on to their hope and calling. Help pastors endure the criticisms, letdowns, and losses this season has brought. Give them wisdom and guidance on how to reopen church ministries in full and how to lead worshipers and make disciples when it feels like life is falling apart. Help them, God, to love and serve Your people powerfully and creatively. Give them the Spirit-led strength they need to care for and support those in their flock who are suffering. Help them endure all things so others may find peace in You.
4. Pray that pastors rest in God’s faithfulness.
God, You cannot deny Yourself. You will not. You are faithful. You always have been, and You always will be. Please help the pastors you’ve called to ministry at such a time as this remember Your faithfulness, model Your faithfulness, and most importantly, delight in and cherish Your faithfulness to them. Lead them to recount the ways You’ve shown Your love, goodness, and strength in the past. You never fail. Give our pastors joy as they continue to endure the hardship of this work, serving faithfully the people You’ve entrusted to them. Let them deeply know You will never leave them. You will never forsake them. You will never cease to love them. You are with them in the rubble, and You make all things new.
We pray in hope. Amen.