Duties of a Pastor, Part 4
Pastors Pray for their People
To my knowledge, there is no single verse in scripture that says, "pastors, pray for your people." However, I believe that every pastor/elder should make prayer for his people an unrelenting pursuit. Consider the following biblical reasoning.
The apostles considered it a chief duty. Elders/pastors, of course, are not apostles. Yet, there are certain valid analogies that can be made between pastors and apostles. For instance, the apostles could command a person to be healed in certain cases. That was one way in which they were unique. But, in local churches, the sick were to seek out their elders for prayer. (James 5:14)
The apostles appointed men to serve alongside of them to do many practical ministries so that they could devote themselves to preaching the word and prayer. (Acts 6:4) In local churches, there are two key roles established, i.e., elders who lead and minister the word to the church and deacons who function as support. By analogy, elders should consider prayer essential for their duties.
Jesus set an example of how to care for those in your charge. He prayed for his disciples. There are several such examples. Paul prayed for those under his charge, especially for the churches.
Prayer becomes a way to serve the church in humility. By praying for his people, an elder is helping them, which is the essence of humility.
Prayer brings a sense of peace to a pastor's heart as he seeks to minister to his people. Sin, conflict, and a mountain of needs can challenge even the strongest souls. Prayer keeps an elder balanced and relying on the chief shepherd of our souls.
Prayer deepens a pastor's understanding for his people. When an elder consistently seeks prayer requests, writes them down, and goes over them, it gives him a clearer window into his people's lives. A shepherd knows his sheep, but human shepherds struggle to know them well. Prayer is a daily practice that cements that kind of knowledge.
Prayer deepens an elder's love for his people. It is hard to hate a person for whom you pray. That is why we are told to love our enemies and pray for them. That same principle works when it comes to pastoral care. The more he prays, the deeper he feels invested in and compassionate for his flock.
Prayer builds faith for the task. Prayer acknowledges something crucial to any ministry. That is an awareness of one's inabilities and of God's abilities and provision. Pity the pastor/elder who thinks he can do it in his own strength. Prayer aligns the heart to the reality of one's weakness and builds one's faith.
Prayer works. This is so obvious that it might get missed. A pastor prays for his church because God answers prayer. Prayer far outstrips our puny efforts. So an elder doesn't just pray for the sake of his own character development. He prays for results that God is pleased to give according to our needs.
The pastors/elders at Grace recently went through training in how to pray for our congregation. Please know that they are committed to this task. They would covet your prayers for them in turn.