Gardiner Spring, in his booklet A Plea to Pray For Pastors, urges all church members to pray regularly, urgently, and fervently for those who lead them. It’s been interesting to see that, although this booklet was written nearly 200 years ago, the things which our pastors need from us in prayer remain fundamentally the same.
One excellent reminder Spring gives us is this: tell your pastors you are praying for them. This is not the primary purpose of prayer–the blessing of the Holy Spirit in their ministry is–but telling your pastors/elders that you are praying for them encourages them in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. Spring puts it this way:
How full of encouragement to the heart that trembles under a view of the responsibilities of the sacred office! how delightful this spiritual stimulus to a mind almost ready to sink under its own conscious infirmities! And how unspeakably precious the thought to all who labor in this great work, whether in youthful, or riper years, that they are thus habitually remembered in the prayers of the churches! Let the thought sink deep into the heart of every church, that their minister will be very much such a minister as their prayers may make him. If nothing short of Omnipotent grace can make a Christian, nothing less than this can make a faithful and successful minister of the Gospel!
Spring then reminds of the pressures of ministry which weigh on our pastors. “We entreat churches to regard with a more deliberate and devout mind,” he says, “the great work itself to which their ministers are devoted.” Their “great work,” he reminds us, includes:
- Explaining the precious doctrines of the Bible
- Exhorting us to obedience to the commands of Scripture
- Defending the truth against error and false doctrine
- To perform all these duties with a sense of God’s active and engaging presence
- To keep in their own minds a “deep and tender impression of the things that are unseen and eternal,” which is needed to make them fulfill their duties with an even greater earnestness
- To be mindful of how imperative it is that their own lives and character be consistent with what they teach, so that their teaching will not be emptied of its force
- To contextualize the gospel to fit the needs and occasions of those with whom they meet, to give “a word in due season,” without compromising the message itself.
- To perform all these duties without being “disheartened by difficulties, appalled by enemies, and weary of the yoke which they have taken upon them”
Let’s remind ourselves today that our prayers are used mightily by God to make our leaders what they are. They count on and rely heavily upon our prayers; let’s not let them down in this!
Let’s be reminded, as Spring says so well, that our prayers “must make (our leaders) a blessing to the souls of men.”
Would (the church) have (their pastor) come to them in the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel of peace, with a pounding heart, a burning eye, and a glowing tongue, and with sermons bathed in tears and filled with prayer? If so, their prayers must urge him to pray, and their tears inspire his thrilling heart with the strong yearnings of Christian affection. It is in their own closets that the people of God most effectively challenge their beloved ministers to take heed to the ministry they have received from the Lord Jesus (see Acts 20:24).
Pray for our elders! And encourage their souls by telling them you are praying for them. This is best done face to face; but emails, public tweets, facebook messages, texts, snail mail/cards, are all great encouragements to Josh and the other elders/elders in training. This will encourage them with the reminder that they are being upheld before the throne of Almighty God, Who is able to supply strength, power, encouragement, and blessing in their difficult but eternally important work! And as you do so, ask each one what you can be praying for them, so that you will know how to pray specifically for their individual needs.
Crew, let’s commit to apply this message to our own souls. May we be marked as a church which upholds our leaders in prayer!
P.S. Gardiner Spring’s booklet is available to read online here.