Will you pray for your pastor?

by Matthew C. Harrison

Prayer is the breath of the Christian.

St. Paul’s letters are filled with references to his prayers for others and his requests for their prayers for him. “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power …” (2 Thess. 1:11). “Brothers, pray for us” (1 Thess. 5:25). “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). There are many others. There have been many times, particularly as my vocations have become increasingly challenging, when I’ve had the sense that I am being carried along, especially as I pass through days when very difficult decisions have to be made. At these times, I pray that God will give me the strength to be faithful today. “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34). So I pray: Lord, have mercy upon me, today. Lord, give me what I need for today.

Once I was visiting an elderly woman who had just been transferred from her home to a care facility. She was distraught. I should have simply sat quietly, listened to this elderly saint’s lament, and then offered her comfort. But I interjected, and with law at that. “But the Bible tells us it is the task of widows to pray,” I said to her. I’ll never forget her response: “Oh Pastor, I pray for you every day.” How small I felt. And yet, how comforted I was. Far from my own ability or charisma sustaining me in the Lord’s work, it was and is much more the promises of the Lord, and especially the prayers of the saints.

Today I make a request of you. Will you pray for your pastor? Will you pray for him daily? Will you put him on the list of all those names you rattle off when you pray with your young children every night? Will you, by God’s Spirit, resolve to be more diligent in prayer for him, for his wife and for his family? He needs your prayers, always. And now — in these “gray and latter days” — he needs them more than ever.

Let me share with you two pages from an appendix in the new edition of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation (Concordia Publishing House, 2017, pp. 360-361) that may help you as you pray:

Lessons from Luther’s A Simple Way to Pray

Martin Luther lays out a simple method for praying the words of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed or any text from the Bible. To help you remember, you might think of it as “I. T. C. P.”

  • Instruction
  • Thanksgiving
  • Confession
  • Prayer

This method anchors prayer in the catechism or other biblical texts, but allows the Holy Spirit to prompt thoughts via the Word, which may be chased more freely by the mind at prayer. …

Here is an example of how one could use Luther’s I. T. C. P. method to pray, based on Hebrews 13:17, which says: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Instruction: Lord Christ, You instruct me here that I am to listen carefully and heed the word of my pastor when he speaks Your Word. The pastoral office is profound; You not only charge my pastor to watch over my soul, but You also call him to account for his service to me. Finally, You tell me plainly in this text that I am to be a joy to my pastor and not a pain, and this for my own spiritual benefit.

Thanksgiving: Jesus, I thank you for my pastor. In fact, I thank You for the pastor who baptized me and all pastors who have served me in my life as a Christian. Thank You for all the sermons that have clearly shown me my sin and delivered to me the free forgiveness of the Gospel because of Your sacrifice for me on the cross.

Confession: Lord, I confess that so often I fail to pray for my pastor. I fail to be gracious to his family. I do not pay attention to his preaching. I have gossiped and failed to love and defend him and “put the best construction on everything.” I deserve to have my faithful pastor taken away. Forgive me my many sins, and help me to do better. Help me especially to be a joy to my pastor and to encourage him in his difficult office.

Prayer: Savior, bless my pastor with faithfulness to Your Word. Cause him to grow in knowledge of Your Word. Give him courage and strength for his tasks. I thank you for (name) and for all faithful pastors. Grant success to the work of our seminaries. Bless our professors and students. And give my pastor joy. I ask all this for Your sake alone. Amen.

That’s Luther’s “I. T. C. P.” method — Instruction, Thanksgiving, Confession, Prayer. You can use it to pray with your family at home, with a group of Christians at church or elsewhere, or by yourself. As you practice it daily, it will become second nature and a great blessing for your meditation and prayer.

Adapted from Martin Luther, A Simple Way to Pray, translated by Matthew C. Harrison, copyright © 2012 Concordia Publishing House, pp. 3–5. Used with permission.

The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison is president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

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6 Responses to Will you pray for your pastor?

  1. Bethanie Westgate February 6, 2018 at 6:41 pm #

    I always enjoy reading Pastor Harrison’s columns in the Lutheran Witness, but as a pastor’s wife who was also raised by a pastor, I especially rejoiced to see his topic this month. Pastors go through a lot more than most members realize, and I’m sure my husband goes through even more than I, as his wife, realize. I have been including him in our children’s bedtime prayers for a while now, and it’s a great suggestion. Part of our prayer with our children is: “God bless our pastor; God bless Daddy; God bless Mommy;” etc. through our children’s names. One time, my 4 year old asked “why do we also pray for daddy when we already pray for him as our pastor?” I replied, “because he’s our pastor, he needs extra prayers.” Thank you, Pastor Harrison, for shepherding our Synod.

  2. Tom February 8, 2018 at 2:25 pm #

    As a lamb in the flock of my Pastor I was given Heaven on Earth.
    I was walking on the road to Emmaus when the Lord though him opened my eyes.
    I pray for my Pastor every day and every Sunday before the service starts I pray Hymn #681 “ SEND O LORD YOUR HOLY SPIRIT “..
    Knowing the Lord has called him as He called Peter in John 21:

  3. Karla Fisher February 12, 2018 at 7:43 am #

    I consider our Pastor, Pastor Jeff Caithamer, St John Lutheran Church, Champaign, Illinois, to be a huge part of our lives, not only On Sunday but every day of the week. He is our Shepherd and our leader in this life until God calls us to our heavenly home to be with Him in our eternal life. We pray for him, his wife and their beautiful family every day.
    It is my feeling that a great deal of people do not think about how very human our Pastors are. They have all of the same feelings, thoughts and emotions that we do. The same family issues at home and the same desire to please and obey God in their own lives.
    We simply must remember these things about our Pastors and lift him up in prayer as he so many times does us.
    Pastor Harrison, I have these same thoughts and feelings for you as I Do for our Pastor, and all LCMS Pastors.
    May God continue to lift you up and give you the strength a knowledge and most importantly the love that you have and share with all of us.
    In finishing, I am sending out prayers to all of our Pastors and leaders during this Lent season, and I pray that my prayers will lift them up and bring a smile to their faces and joy to their hearts. Amen.

  4. Kelly Rottmann February 12, 2018 at 7:50 pm #

    Thank you, Pr. Harrison. Thank you for your faithful teaching and preaching–both now and 20+ years ago when I was so new to Lutheranism. May our good Lord continue to protect and preserve you and your family as you go about the work of His kingdom.

  5. David Morse February 15, 2018 at 6:01 am #

    I fall short in doing this as often as I should. I do pray for all pastors and for those who I have lost contact with ( I am sad that I cannot reach them to talk with them any more ) I’m
    aware that pastors have conference’s and meet to discuss many things, I hope they know they are loved by their congregations, and by those who they have served.Thank you to those pastors who keep in touch with members of the congregations who have moved.

  6. Esther March 7, 2018 at 4:27 pm #

    Dear Lord send the holy spirit to give our pastor good healing to be able to have the strength to do his work after his surgery. He needs your healing hand. .Amen

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