The life of a United Methodist pastor is filled with a variety of responsibilities. They preach, teach, visit, counsel, lead, consult, communicate, budget, clean, and so much more.
Pastoring a church is not a job that can be done well under the pastor's power alone. Every pastor relies heavily on God's guidance, strength and peace as they live into their call.
One of the best ways we can support our pastors and show them our appreciation is to regularly pray for them. But it can be difficult to know exactly what we should pray for. To help get started, we've assembled fifteen areas of pastors' lives and ministries where they would value your prayers.
1. Spiritual lives
Our pastors' spiritual lives are important to their finding the wisdom, strength and guidance necessary to lead a church. Pray for your pastors' growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ, as the Holy Spirit works through them to serve your congregation and community.
2. Time management
With all of their responsibilities, United Methodist pastors need to become masters of their calendars. John Wesley knew this back in the 1700s. He instructed the preachers, "Never trifle away time." Pray for your pastors to use time wisely, including blocking out occasions for Sabbath rest, prayer, work and family.
Speaking of families, it is important to remember that our ministers may also be a spouse, a parent, and a child to parents who have needs. Remember to pray for your pastor's family.
Delivering a great sermon (and the ones that are less than great) takes hours of study and preparation. Pray for your pastors as they prepare worship services, sacraments and sermons. May they have the words to communicate what God has placed on their hearts.
The work of a pastor requires reserves of spiritual and emotional strength. Ask God to bolster ministers' hearts and minds, especially on days when they feel weak, inadequate, or unqualified.
6. Visiting ministries
Visiting people in hospital rooms, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, memory centers, hospice units, homes and jail cells, is an important part of your pastor's job. Pray for her or his ability to connect with those who are struggling and to share God's comfort, peace and hope.
Pastors shepherd their congregations, lead individuals to Christ and guide the church as a witness to the work of God in our communities. Pray for your pastor's ability to lead your congregation.
Being a leader includes making difficult decisions. Sometimes that means making a call when the "right answer" is elusive. Other times it is about making an unpopular choice. Pray for God to guide your pastor's decisions.
9. Ministry with the poor
Pastors are called upon to help those who do not have enough food, rent money, or the ability to pay a utility bill. They also lead their congregations to do the same. Pray that your pastor has the wisdom and resources necessary to help those in need, and that he or she might represent Jesus well to those who feel forgotten.
We've all sent a note, email or text that is misunderstood by the recipient. Ministers reach out to so many people, miscommunication is nearly impossible to avoid. Ask God to make your pastor's communication clear and for grace when he or she is misunderstood.
Conflicts sometimes arise when people miscommunicate and disagree. Some conflicts are serious, while others are petty. Pray for your pastors' strength, wisdom, patience and discernment as they navigate the conflicts that arise.
United Methodist pastors help set the vison for their congregations. Pray that your pastor may clearly see where God is leading your church and for opportunities for ministries to grow in those areas.
Money worries can be a big distraction. Pray for financial peace for your pastor, both with the congregation's budget and his or her family finances.
Your pastor's physical health is important. Pray for them to take time to care for their bodies through rest, exercise, and eating well.
Pray for your pastors to be encouraged today. Pray that they might know in their hearts the differences they make in the lives of individuals, in your congregation, and in your community.
You can be an answer to prayer when you encourage your ministers. Write a note, text or email to let them know what a difference they make in your life. They will surely appreciate it.
This story was published October 12, 2018.