Christian leaders can be extremely busy, but are we busy with the right thing?
We live in a broken world with troubles beyond our abilities. We are called on to give leadership, counsel, teaching, organization, resolve conflict, and meet human needs. We teach. We write. We study. We guide. We laugh, and we cry.
Being involved in Christian ministry, whether you are paid or volunteer, can be a hectic and stressful life.
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy, one of the young men he had mentored in ministry. Apparently, Timothy was struggling with his ministerial duties and conflicts in the church. Paul provided this young leader several practical handles for ministry and he also challenged him to be faithful in the core elements of his duties — to keep the faith and preach a pure gospel.
As he offered ministry advice, Paul dropped a surprising gem of wisdom on this young pastor. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, he tells Timothy that one of the primary responsibilities of the minister is to pray for his people.
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
It is tempting to shift the responsibility of this command to all believers, and we know that all Christians are supposed to pray! But the context of this verse makes it clear that the “first” duty of the minister is prayer, intercession, and thanksgiving for all people.
HERE ARE 3 OBSERVATIONS FOR A PRAYING PASTOR:
A Pastor’s Prayer is Good and Pleases God - Go to a bookstore, or check Amazon.com and you will find scores of books telling you how to serve the church. Most are written from such a position of authority that you feel guilty when you are finished.
Every Christian minister I know wants to please the Lord in what they do. The work of the ministry is deadly (and eternally) serious. It is exceedingly complicated and complex. However, according to this passage, one duty that every minister should make the priority is praying for our people.
The Bible tells us that intercessory prayer is “good, and it pleases God our Savior.”
A Pastor’s Prayer is Evangelistic and Gospel-Centered - The content of our prayers should rest on the gospel. Our God is a saving God. He wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of Jesus. As we pray, we can follow this pattern, knowing that we can ask God for the salvation and Christian growth of our people.
Pastor, are your people struggling with finances, in marriage, with their kids? Is your church not baptizing new believers? Is it not growing or reaching the lost? Are we praying? Are we interceding on behalf of our people to a God who wants all to know him? Allow the gospel to guide intercession for your people.
A Pastor’s Prayer Keeps His Heart Warm Toward His People - It is nearly impossible to be cold-hearted toward people you are praying for. The commission Paul gives to Timothy includes the instructions to pray with “thanksgiving” about all people.
Now I know how difficult people can be in ministry. I even know the joke that sounds something like: “if it weren’t for the people this would be a breeze. . . but if it weren’t for the people, we wouldn’t have a job.”
But I have to ask myself, when was the last time I gave thanks for the people and the ministry God has given me. I don’t remember thanking God for the student who comes to me with excuses and needs, or the small group member who is battling (or not battling) sin, or the church member who asks questions about everything. If I did - I would have a much warmer heart toward them. About that, I have no doubt.
So Christian leader, I ask you — are you neglecting the good thing that pleases the Lord? Is your soul suffering because of this neglect?