The past eighteen months have been some of the most challenging in your pastor’s entire ministry. Regardless of the size of your church, your pastor has likely experienced seasons of profound discouragement. He may have faced a tidal wave of criticism as he navigated your church’s response to the pandemic. He probably had to learn new skills in a short amount of time. He may be on the verge of burnout. It’s no wonder that experts continue to predict a surge in pastoral transitions during the next year.
October 1 marks the beginning of Pastor Appreciation Month. It’s a time set aside each year for churches to show some love to their pastoral staff. If there was ever a time when pastors needed to be encouraged, that time is now. Your pastor is tired. He’s stressed. He’s discouraged. And he needs you to support him now more than ever.
In Exodus 17:11-13, we read about how Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands as Israel battled Amalek: “While Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but whenever he put his hand down, Amalek prevailed. When Moses’s hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword.”
Moses had Aaron and Hur to support him. To undergird him so that Israel could prevail. And your pastor needs you to support him right now. He won’t ask for it, but he desperately needs your encouragement. Therefore, I plead with you to go overboard in showing appreciation to your pastor this year. (And don’t forget about any other pastors on staff as well!) You can learn more about how to do so here and how not to do so here.
In addition to expressing your appreciation in tangible ways, let me encourage you to also pray for him. Every day. He certainly needs it.
To help you intercede on your pastor’s behalf, I have provided a Daily Prayer Guide below to use during Pastor Appreciation Month. For the 31 days of October, you will find 31 ways to pray for your pastor(s). When October comes to an end, feel free to start over on Day 1. If you’d like a printable version of this Prayer Guide, you can download it here.
- Pray that his relationship with the Lord continues to thrive. Due to the busyness of pastoral ministry, your pastor’s time and attention are often dominated by urgent matters. This can cause him to unintentionally neglect his relationship with the Lord. No matter what each day has in store, pray that your pastor spends time with the Lord in prayer and personal Bible study.
- Pray for godly wisdom. Your pastor has faced numerous difficult decisions during the past eighteen months. Pray for godly wisdom as he will undoubtedly need to make many more in the days to come.
- Pray for his marriage. Your pastor’s ministry begins at home. Pray that he continues to love, cherish, and honor his wife. Pray that he takes her out on regular date nights. Pray that she is confident that his marriage is more important than his ministry.
- Pray that he takes time to rest. Pastors are on call 24/7. Phone calls, texts, social media messages, and emails light up his phone non-stop. For the workaholic, there’s always more ministry to be done than time to complete it. Pray that your pastor takes sufficient time to rest.
- Pray for his relationship with his children. Pastor’s kids have a unique childhood experience. They learn to sacrifice time with their dad so that he can attend to the needs of the congregation. Pray that your pastor spends intentional, uninterrupted time with his children, so they will know he loves them more than he loves the ministry.
- Pray that his love for the church increases. Let’s be honest. Some church members are easier to love than others. Pray the Lord will help your pastor to love those who support him as well as those who criticize him.
- Pray for his sermon prep time. Your pastor has many responsibilities, but none more important than preaching and teaching the Word of God multiple times each week. Pray that he is able to set aside sufficient time to prepare his sermons. When he has an uncharacteristically busy week, pray that he will trust the Lord to bless his best efforts.
- Pray that he flees temptation. Too many pastors have disqualified themselves from pastoral ministry due to a moral failure. Satan will undoubtedly tempt your pastor to commit sexual sin to bring reproach upon the name of the Lord. Just like Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife, pray that your pastor will flee temptation of all kinds.
- Pray for his mental health. Mask mandates and vaccinations are not the only battles your pastor has faced during the past eighteen months. He has battled discouragement, criticism, and the loss of some of his church members due to this terrible virus. Therefore, pray for his mental health. Pray that he properly processes his emotions so that he can effectively shepherd the church.
- Pray for his physical health. Some pastors have not survived this pandemic. I know of several who have entered the presence of the Lord. In addition to the dangers of COVID, increased stress levels among pastors have numerous damaging physical effects. Pray that your pastor will take the steps necessary to remain healthy for his family and your church.
- Pray that he develops friendships. Every pastor needs those he can lean on. In fact, here are seven friendships every pastor needs. Pray that your pastor will develop friendships with those who will encourage and challenge him regularly.
- Pray that his financial needs are met. Paul writes, “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). As much as possible, pray that your church will attempt to meet the financial needs of your pastor and his family.
- Pray that the church is supportive of his leadership. While the church isn’t required to agree with every decision your pastor makes, they’re not required to oppose every decision either! As your pastor attempts to lead the church forward in a way that honors the Lord, pray that your church will support his leadership.
- Pray for his prayer life. Just as a busy schedule can crowd out your personal prayer time, the same is true for your pastor. Therefore, pray that he takes intentional steps to maintain a vibrant prayer life, regularly witnessing God answers his prayers in amazing ways.
- Pray for your pastor’s wife. While it’s not true in every church, the pastor’s wife is often subjected to unrealistic expectations from church members. Pray that she embraces her primary role to support, encourage, and help her husband fulfill his ministry. Pray that she finds fulfillment by using her own spiritual gifts to serve the church as well. Not to please others, but to please the Lord.
- Pray for your pastor’s children. It’s hard to be a pastor’s kid. Whether they like it or not, the pastor and his family live under a microscope. This reality can place an immense amount of pressure on a child. Pray that your pastor’s children don’t face unfair scrutiny. Pray that the church lets them be kids while they are kids!
- Pray that he studies the Bible to nourish his own soul. Pastors must regularly study the Bible to teach it to others. However, their Bible study can become a means to an end (the completion of the sermon) rather than a time of personal spiritual nourishment. Pray that your pastor will allow the Lord to speak to his own heart during Bible study and not just to discover biblical principles to share with others.
- Pray that he can withstand the pressure of unrealistic expectations. Church members can sometimes allow their desires for how their pastor spends his time to become demands. They may demand that he visits them at least once per month or that he calls them on their birthday. The list could go on and on. Pray that your pastor doesn’t cave under the weight of unrealistic expectations.
- Pray that he practices personal evangelism. Speaking of unrealistic expectations, your pastor can spend all his time with his church members – if he’s not careful. After all, lost people don’t complain when he doesn’t share the gospel with them. However, nothing excites a Christian more than leading another person to Christ. Therefore, pray that your pastor will make personal evangelism a priority in his ministry.
- Pray for his unknown burdens. Your pastor is privy to many things that you will never know. He knows about the marriage that’s on the rocks. He knows about the church member who is struggling with a porn addiction. He has spent hours counseling a couple who suffered a secret miscarriage. Your pastor carries many burdens of his flock. Pray for him as he does so.
- Pray for his endurance. Ministry is hard. He will never tell you, but your pastor has probably thought about quitting more times than he can count. Pray that he draws strength from the Lord and continues to persevere in these challenging days.
- Pray that he takes a day off each week. If he doesn’t intentionally guard his time, your pastor can easily find ministry to keep him busy seven days a week. For the sake of his family, the church, and his own sanity, pray that your pastor regularly takes a day off each week.
- Pray that he resists bitterness. Because of the challenges of ministry during the past eighteen months and beyond, pastors constantly battle the temptation of bitterness. They’re tempted to be bitter because of their circumstances. They’re tempted to be bitter with hypercritical church members. They’re tempted to be bitter because some church members haven’t returned. Pray that your pastor resists this temptation and continues to find joy in the work of ministry.
- Pray as he attempts to pastor absentee church members. Worship attendance for most churches is less than it was before the pandemic began. Some church members have shifted to online-only, presenting a new challenge for your pastor. Pray for him as he attempts to minister with understanding and grace to those church members who haven’t returned to in-person worship.
- Pray that he finds encouragement in his calling. During difficult ministry moments, your pastor may struggle with discouragement. Pray that he will draw strength and encouragement as he remembers that it is God who has called him and equipped for the work of pastoral ministry. And it is God who will sustain him.
- Pray that he trusts in the Spirit’s power. Pastors are gifted communicators. They are often exceptional leaders. Therefore, it’s tempting to rely on their own skills and abilities at times. Pray that while your pastor utilizes his abilities, he will not neglect the Holy Spirit’s prompting and guidance throughout his ministry.
- Pray that he is proactive in preventing ministry burnout. Ministry burnout is a legitimate threat to any pastor’s longevity. Pray that your pastor will take intentional steps to avoid burnout in his own life and the life of others within the church.
- Pray that he will remain biblically faithful to God’s Word. Our culture grows increasingly opposed to a biblical worldview. Calls for Christian leaders to compromise their biblical convictions grow louder and more forceful. Pray that your pastor will remain committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.
- Pray that he will seek to please Jesus more than anyone else. The temptation of people-pleasing is a real struggle. When faced with the choice to please the Lord or other people, pray that your pastor will always choose to please the Lord.
- Pray that he feels appreciated. During Pastor Appreciation Month (and every other month), pray that your pastor knows how much you love and appreciate him. When a church is silent during this month, the pastor hears them loud and clear. Your appreciation will go a long way to sustain him during the difficult days of ministry.
- Insert your own prayer here. In addition to the previous thirty suggested ways to pray for your pastor, there may be other specific ways to pray for him or his family. Use this day to pray for him however you best see you fit.