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Your pastors and elders need your help to live out the calling of Acts 6:4: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Because everything seems more important and seems more urgent than being in the word and prayer. Everything.

What happens if all the lights are burnt out and the heat doesn’t work and the pews are upside down and the sound is off? People will notice. People will say something. People will be upset.

But what if your elders didn’t pray more than five minutes at their meeting last month? Would you know? No on would, not right away. What if your pastor hasn’t prayed for weeks? What if the elders are not deep into the word? With almost everything else in the church someone will says, “What’s going on? Why didn’t you show up? What’s the problem? Why didn’t this get done?” But who knows when the pastors and the elders forget Acts 6:4?

Most pastors won’t tell you this, but they can preach a passable sermon with almost no preparation. We know how to string sentences together. We know more about the Bible than almost everyone in the church. We can cheat our prep time and no one will know. Not right away.

But over time, church members will think to themselves, “Something’s missing. There’ some power not here that used to be here. There’s some gospel connecting no longer at play. I can’t put my finger on it, but pastor doesn’t preach like he used to.” It happens slowly but surely. Maybe the emails seem more pressing this week, or maybe it’s a meeting, or this administrative thing. It’s not one massive thing, but a mountain of molehills. And then one day, Acts 6:4 is gone. The elders don’t pray. The pastors don’t study.

We must all fight for the ministry of the word and prayer. Elders and pastors must fight to keep it and congregations must fight to support it, to encourage it, to give time for it. Because most pastors and most parishoners don’t notice Acts 6:4 is missing until it’s too late.

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22 thoughts on “Why Pastors and Elders Need Your Prayers”

  1. Well that’s convicting. Great stuff here.

  2. Flyaway says:

    Our prayer group prays for our pastor and church council every week but sometimes we don’t know what to pray so we just pray that God will undertake in their lives. Or sometimes we pray for God’s perfect will. We pray for them to be encouraged, blessed, or other general things. We do pray for strong marriages, and good health too.

  3. Man, this was not what I wanted to read this morning Kevin. Thanks a lot . . . . It has been crazy busy the last couple of weeks and my sermon prep and prayer time have suffered. Yet, God’s Word and your interpretation are right. We (I) must “devote” ourselves . . .

  4. krisakson says:

    Recently I was considering how my prayer life has changed in the last couple of years. I realized that my prayers went from a mostly perfunctory rambling obligation to clear (most of the time) precise and hopefully meaningful prayer. I had read a number of books on prayer by Luther, Calvin, Carson et. al..
    I believe most folks really don’t understand the value of prayer. Perhaps it’s because we don’t know what to expect to achieve when we pray. I often hear prayers such as, “Lord, be with so and so or bless them Lord.” Thankfully, God doesn’t misunderstand what is being asked or what is needed. He bears with us as we muddle through prayer, grasping at any notion that pops into our heads.

    However, we must understand why we pray at all. It’s not merely to lay our burdens, or someone else’s, at God’s feet. Nor is it a religious exercise to check off at some appointed time. It is an opportunity to draw close to God and to worship. It is an opportunity to get a fix on God’s priorities’ and listen as well as talk. Prayer is perhaps the one thing we can do wherever we are or whatever we are doing. Scripture is full of examples of prayer’s necessity, efficaciousness, and priority. Prayer is an avenue by which we see the greatness of God and begin to think and act as the Holy Spirit desires. .

    If we neglect prayer, or if we live in a manner that makes prayer ineffectual, then we unnecessarily open ourselves up to misery and defeat. Pastors are no different. They carry not only the weight of their own lives but also the lives and wellbeing of their flock. Though I pray diligently for my pastor and church leadership, how often have I shown cold-hearted disinterest for their well-being in the past. The neglect was never purposeful. It was never to snub them but oh how I have seen pastors suffer and fall. I think of what I could have done to entreat the Lord’s mercy and tender care for one of His shepherds. Most of my 30+ years as a Christian, I have watched his shepherds struggle.

    To not pray for a pastor is a selfish and thinly veiled contempt for one of the Lord’s anointed. Always, always, always intercede for your pastor and make him part the time you daily spend with God.

  5. Rose says:

    Reading this, I think pastors might be surprised what is noticed about their sermon preparation…or lack of it.

  6. SteveH says:

    Some very valid comments, especially applicable to those Churches where the pastor is also the general factotum for the congregation. However, one factor that gets overlooked is the difference between the functions of pastor and preacher.
    Do you expect your pastor to look after his flock in a caring manner? Then give him the time to do so, and let others share the preaching ministry.
    Does your pastor have a gift in expounding the Scriptures? Then give him the circumstances in which he can be a clear unobstructed channel of God’s blessing.
    These are two different roles, and there is a grave risk of compromising one or other of them. Don’t overlook the implications of 1Corinthians 12.

  7. John says:

    There’s no Christianity without prayer. It’s impossible to know the things of God apart from the Holy Spirit, the Word and prayer. The flesh hates prayer. Self comes up with every excuse to not pray. That’s why fasting is so important. It kills that thing called self. A minister is only as great as his prayer life. I find it amazing that this day and age we focus so much on academic theological terminology and spend so little time studying what true godliness really is. Jesus had a profound prayer life. Jesus also fasted and yet somehow we think we can do without it. The servant is not greater than the master. Jesus was our example. The apostles also depended on prayer and fasting. We must do the same.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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