How to Pray for Your Pastor

When Roman legions invaded Caledonia (modern-day Scotland) in the late first century AD, it was said by the historian Tacitus that the powerful Celtic chieftain Calgacus emerged and rallied his tribes against the might of Rome, famously declaring, “They make a desert, and they call it peace.”

Today’s Christian pastor is likewise making similar stands for biblical Christianity in the midst of a secular desert created by an anti-Christian culture. The Bible describes a faithful pastor as an elder who oversees the flock and the household of God. According to Paul, pastor/elders rule the church (Titus 1:5) and guard the treasures of Christ (v. 9). Additionally, they minister to the people by teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).

If ever there was an era in Christian history that believers should be committed to praying for their pastors, it is now. James rebukes our prayerlessness when he says, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). And what prayers are we offering up to God on behalf of our pastors? Let me suggest several.

THAT HE WOULD DELIGHT IN PREACHING

If your minister is not being blessed and instructed by the Word, it is highly unlikely that you will be. Your spiritual well-being is directly linked to your pastor’s seeking the Lord in his preparation for the sacred desk. If he is not diligently seeking the Lord, you won’t find Him in his preaching either.

A godly pastor is a joyful, dutiful herald of the most high King. His enthusiasm for proclaiming God’s Word will be infectious and unstoppable, and it will be readily apparent to all who hear him that this is a man who knows his God. Second Timothy 4:1–2 reads:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

THAT HE WOULD ENJOY THE LORD’S DAY

I suspect that many people who sit week after week in the pews of their particular church have no idea how difficult a Sunday is for a minister and his family. Pray for your pastor’s Sundays. Robert Murray M’Cheyne says: “A well-spent sabbath we feel to be a day of heaven upon earth. … We love to rise early on that morning, and to sit up late, that we may have a long day with God.”

THAT HE WOULD LEAD HIS FAMILY WELL

Pray that God would help your pastor in the midst of busyness to taste and see that the Lord is good. Pray that his children would grow up loved and cherished in the household of faith. Joel Beeke says: “Family worship is the foundation of child rearing. As family worship goes, so will go the family. The Puritans thought family worship was the whole backbone of society.” We read in Deuteronomy 6:4–7:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

THAT HE WOULD HAVE A HEART FOR THE LOST

May your pastor have a Christlike love for the lost and a joy in telling others about the Shepherd-King. If a man loves the Lord, he will love telling others the old story of the gospel. He also will teach and model for others a renewed sense of evangelism and mission. He is worthy to receive the glory and honor due Him (Rev. 4:11). Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is worthy to receive the reward. We need our pastors to have a zeal for the lost.

THAT THE LORD WOULD PROTECT HIM

A growing personal relationship with Christ will supply the motivation and zeal needed for a pastor’s duty to God. It will be tiring. It will require an all-in, total commitment. Pray that God would provide every physical and emotional need for the call to serve. Pastors are often subject spiritual temptation, so pray for God to protect these men from the evil one. Pray that they would guard themselves and be granted personal holiness. Pray that they would apply the means of grace to their own hearts, by God’s help.

THAT HE WOULD PREACH THE GOSPEL

Thomas Smyth of the antebellum historic Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston, S.C., once charged a young pastor by saying:

Preaching is your pre-eminent employment, so the Gospel is the sum and substance of your preaching—the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation. 

Necessity is laid upon you, yea, woe is unto you if you preach not the Gospel. … Preach Christ as set forth in the Gospel—the sum and substance of God’s testimony, and the author of eternal salvation to all who believe upon him.

Preach—this glorious Gospel of good news—first and last, every way, and everywhere, in public and in private; in the pulpit and by the press; to the living and to the dying; to the lost and the saved.

Pray for your pastor, pray as if your very life and those you love depended upon it.

Melton L. Duncan is a ruling elder at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C.

 

Meet the Puritans

Andrew Willet, D. D.—

This learned and laborious divine was born the city of Ely, in the year 1562, and educated first in Peter-house, then in Christ’s college, Cambridge. He was blessed with pious parents, who brought him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. His father, Mr. Thomas Willet, was sub-almoner to King Edward VI., and a painful sufferer during the cruel persecutions of Queen Mary. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, he became rector of Barley in Hertfordshire, and was preferred to a prebend in the church of Ely. His son Andrew, while a boy at school, discovered an uncommon genius, and made extraordinary progress in the various rudiments of knowledge. He was so intense in his application, that his parents were obliged to use various methods to divert his attention from his books. At the age of fourteen, he was sent to the university, where he was soon preferred to a fellowship. Here he became intimate with Downham, Perkins, and other celebrated puritans, who encouraged each other in their studies. Willet soon distinguished himself by his exact acquaintance with the languages, the arts, and all the branches of useful literature. He was concerned not to have these things to learn, when he came forth to teach others; wisely judging that youth should prepare that which riper years must use. Among the anecdotes related of him while at Cambridge, shewing the promising greatness of his abilities, is the following:—” The proctor of the college being prevented, by some unforeseen occurrence, from executing his office at the commencement, just at hand, none could be found to take his place excepting Willet, who acquitted himself so well, that his orations gained him the approbation and applause of the university, and the high admiration of all who knew how short a time he had for preparation.” In the year 1586, he united with the master and fellows of Christ’s college, in defence of themselves against the accusations of their enemies, in which they acquitted themselves with great honour.

Having spent thirteen years at the university, he came forth richly traught with wisdom and knowledge. On the death of his father, the queen presented him to the rectory of Barley, and gave him his father’s prebend in the church of Ely. He entered upon his charge at Barley, January 29, 1598. Though he is said to have sought no other preferment, one of his name became rector of Reed in Middlesex, in the year 1613; and rector of Chishall-Parra in Essex, in 1620. We cannot, however, learn whether this was the same person. He studied to deserve preferments, rather than to obtain them. His own observation was, that some enjoy promotions, while others merit them. He always abounded in the work of the Lord, and accounted the work in which he was engaged as part of his wages. About the time that he entered the ministerial work, he married a near relation to Dr. Goad, by whom he had eleven sons and seven daughters.

Dr. Willet was a man of uncommon reading, having digested the fathers, councils, ecclesiastical histories, the civil and canon law, and numerous writers of almost all descriptions. Indeed, he read so much, and understood and retained what he had read so well, that he was denominated a living library. To secure this high attainment, he was extremely provident of his time. He constantly rose at a very early hour, by which means he is said to have got half way on his journey before others set out. He was laborious in the numerous duties of his ministry; and he greatly lamented the condition of those who sat under idle and ignorant ministers. He also often lamented the state of the prelates of those times, who, after obtaining rich livings, though they were men of talents and learning, would not stoop to labour for the welfare of souls. But he, as a faithful steward of Christ, constantly preached three times a week, and catechised both old and young throughout his parish. And though he was a man of most profound learning, had been some time chaplain to Prince Henry, and had frequently preached at court, his sermons and catechetical instructions were dressed in so plain and familiar a style, that persons of the weakest capacity might easily understand him. He esteemed those the best discourses which were best adapted to the condition of the people, and most owned of God: not those which were most decorated with human ornaments, and most admired among men. Though he could administer all needful reproof and warning to the careless and the obstinate; yet his great talent was to bind up the broken-hearted, and comfort the weary, fainting pilgrim.

His external deportment, at home and abroad, was inch as became his profession. He lived, as well as preached, the gospel. His house was the model of a little church and house of God; where morning and evening sacrifices were daily offered unto God. He had laws and ordinances set up in his house, directing all the members of his numerous family to the observance of their respective duties; and he was a pattern to them all in all things. His humility and benevolence were two of the brightest jewels in his crown. Though he had a numerous family of children, he did not consider that a sufficient reason for abridging his constant and extensive liberality. On the contrary, he was of the same mind as one of the fathers, who said, “The more children, the more charity.” And it is said of Dr. Willet, that his substance increased with his liberality. Many poor ministers tasted the sweetness of his bounty.

Dr. Willet obtained a great degree of celebrity by the numerous and valuable productions of his pen. One of his voluminous publications appeared in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, entitled, “Synopsis Papismi; or, a general View of Papistrie.” This work, which was dedicated to the queen, contains upwards of thirteen hundred pages in folio. It is perhaps the best refutation of popery that ever was published. In this work, says Mr. Toplady, no less than fifteen hundred errors and heresies are charged against the church of Rome, and most ably refuted. It passed through five editions; and was highly approved by many of the bishops; held in great esteem by the two universities; and very much admired, both by the clergy and laity, throughout the kingdom. The author, it is incorrectly added, was most zealously attached to the church of England, and not a grain of puritanism mingled itself with his conformity,

This celebrated divine continued his numerous and painful labours to the last. He used to say, “As it is most honourable for a soldier to die righting, and for a bishop or pastor praying; so, if my merciful God will vouchsafe to grant me my request, I desire that I may finish my days in writing and commenting on some part of scripture.”

Herein God gave him the desire of his heart. He was called to his father’s house, as he was composing his “Commentary on Leviticus.” Though he did not desire, as good Archbishop Leighton did, that he might die at an inn, the unerring providence of God had appointed that he should. The occasion of his death was a fall from his horse, as he was riding homewards from London, by which he broke his leg, and was detained at Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, incapable of being removed. On the tenth day after his fall, having supped cheerfully the preceding evening, and rested well during the greatest part of the night, he awoke in the morning by the tolling of a bell, when he entered into sweet conversation with his wife about the joys of heaven. After singing with melody in their hearts to the Lord, and unitedly presenting their supplications to God, he turned himself in bed, and giving a deep groan, he fell into a swoon. His wife, being alarmed, immediately called in assistance; and upon the application of suitable means, he recovered a little, and raised himself up in bed, but immediately said, ” Let me alone. I shall be well, Lord Jesus;” and then resigned his happy soul to God, December 4, 1621, aged fifty-eight years. His funeral was attended by a great number of knights, gentlemen, and ministers, who, having esteemed and honoured him in life, testified their respect to his memory when dead. Though he wrote against the unmeaning and superstitious practice of bowing at the name of Jesus, and was a sufferer in the cause of nonconformity; yet, being so excellent a man, so peaceable in his behaviour, and so moderate in his principles, he was enabled to keep his benefice to the day of his death. “He was a person,” says Fuller,” of a sound judgment, admirable industry, a pious life, and bountiful above his ability He is classed among the learned writers and fellows of Christ’s college, Cambridgc. Mr. Strype denominates him a learned and zealous puritan.”!

Dr. Willet’s remains were interred in the chancel of Barley church, where there is a representation of him at full length, in a praying attitude; and underneath is a monumental inscription erected to his memory, of which the following is a translation

Here lies
Andrew Willet D.D.
once Minister of this Church,
and a great ornament of the Church in general.
He died
December 4, 1621, in the 59th
year of his age.

Reader, admire! within this tomb there lies
Willet, though dead, still living with the wise;
Seek you his house:—his polished works peruse,
Each valu’d page the living Willet shews:
All that of him was mortal rests below,
Nor can you tearless from the relics go.

Subjoined to the Latin inscription are the following lines in English:

Thou that erewhile didst such strong reasons frame,
As yet, great Willet, are the popelings shame;
Now by thy sickness thy death hast made,
Strong arguments to prove that man’s a shade.
Thy life did shew thy deep divinity,
Death only taught us thy humanity.

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