Someone said recently that modern pastorates look like the road from Kuwait city to Baghdad after the Gulf War — burned out and abandoned. As "point men" for the new movement of God, pastors in local churches today stand face to face with the enemy's fire in every aspect of their lives. While they proclaim the gospel, Satan shoots fiery darts aimed at destroying their marriages, undermining their confidence, stealing their health, and tearing down their standing in the community. The attacks can come from outside the church or even from within the church itself, and fire from our own ranks can be the most deadly of all.
The casualties from Satan's war on pastors are all around us. Sex scandals in the church abound. Thousands of pastors each year are being removed or are retiring early because they are burned out. Divorces, and even suicide, are not unheard of tragedies in parsonage families.
So why are pastors under such heavy attacks from the enemy? Satan knows, "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter." He has been striking at shepherds since the first pastors of the early church began preaching the name of Jesus. Pastor Paul was shipwrecked, snake-bitten, thrown in prison, run out of town, beaten, stoned and left for dead—all for proclaiming the gospel. In Acts 20:23, he says, "I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prisons and hardships are facing me." Barnabas, John, and Stephen experienced the same kind of persecutions and opposition in every city where they preached. The Book of Acts contains example after example of how the message of Jesus incited riots along with revivals. Jesus even told his disciples, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:20).
But something else is very clear in Acts. The early church members prayed diligently for their pastors at all times. They prayed for doors of ministry to be opened; they prayed for anointing; they prayed for protection when their pastors were threatened and for rescue when they were in danger. Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 1:11, "Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many," Jesus also modeled a way to pray for pastors when he said, "I pray for them... Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name..." (John 17:9-10). If Jesus saw the need to pray for pastors, so should we!
God wants our pastor to be fruitful. By praying the Word over him we can make sure that he is blessed and protected. As lay people, we can begin to build a prayer circle around him by claiming the Scriptures in his behalf. Don't wait for our shepherd to ask for prayer—he may not. Many pastors are reluctant to seek prayer from their flock, perhaps out of fear, or pride, or even humility. Some are afraid to reveal their needs; others may feel they are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers, therefore they shouldn't need prayer. Still others may think that they simply don't deserve special prayer when so many in their congregation are hurting.
Let's take the initiative to begin praying for our pastor anyway. Our prayers will make a difference in his life and ministry.
Praying for our pastor is our responsibility and privilege. As we honor our leader, we will honor God. Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for a pastor to devour, and he attacks the most vulnerable areas of our lives. It is open season on pastors; and without prayer's hedges we have little protection from the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Will you be the one to stand behind our shepherd?