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 Puritan Humphrey Fenn


Humphrey Fenn.—
This most learned and venerable divine was several years minister at Northampton, and above forty years a laborious and faithful preacher in Coventry, and uncommonly successful in his ministry; yet he underwent many troubles for nonconformity. While in the former situation, he experienced the cruel oppressions of the times, and was apprehended and committed to close prison, where he remained a long time. During his confinement, the inhabitants at Northampton presented a supplication to Queen Elizabeth, humbly and earnestly beseeching her majesty to grant his release, and his restoration to his beloved ministry. In this supplication they affirmed upon their dutiful allegiance, that during his abode in that place, he had lived an honest and a peaceable life, and gave a high character of his diligence in preaching, his obedience to God, and to those in authority. It does not appear, however, whether this application was at all successful. It is very probable he never returned to his charge at Northampton.
Having at length obtained his release, he most probably entered upon his ministerial charge in the city of Coventry. The oppressed puritans being desirous to be eased of their heavy burdens, Mr. Fenn was unanimously chosen by the London ministers, to accompany the Earl of Leicester, in a presentation of their afflictions and desires to those in authority; but with what success, we have not been able to learn. He consented to this appointment, saying “that he was ready to run, whenever the church commanded him.” It is said to have been his opinion, that impropriations, which were attached to her majesty, to colleges, &c. ought to be set to the pastors; and that all tythes, which are appendages by some composition, should be paid to the ministers in specie. It is also observed, that he accounted it unlawful to receive the sacrament at the hands of a dumb minister, or to attend the ordinary service of the church without a sermon.
Upon the publication of Whitgift’s three articles, and the persecutions which followed, he was cited to Lambeth, and, refusing to subscribe, was immediately suspended. When he appeared before the archbishop, he was urged by many arguments, to subscribe; and he, on the contrary, endeavoured to answer those arguments, stating his reasons for refusal. This was as follows:
Archbishop. Your subscription is required by the statute of 13 Eliz.
Fenn. That statute extendeth no further than the confession of christian faith, and the doctrine of the sacraments.
A. There is provision in the statute of 7 Eliz., that the queen, with her high commissioners, or the archbishop, may take further order.
F. The proviso of 7 Eliz. can have no relation to 13 Eliz., which was some years after. And the proviso expresseth how far it is to be extended: not to taking away and establishing ceremonies.
A. But so much of the canon law is still in force, as is not contrary to God’s word; and you have promised canonical obedience.
F. But the question is, whether the things required be agreeable to God’s word? And not only so, there is no canon which requires us to subscribe to the judgment of our ordinary.
A. That I allow; but the law hath charged the bishop to see that all things for the ministry be duly observed, as by law established; and I take this order for the more effectual execution of things already established.
F. Your care and diligence in the execution of laws must be according to law, and not contrary to law; that is, by admonition, by suspension, by sequestration, or by deprivation, as the case may require. But these proceedings are not according to law; but an inquisition into our hearts and consciences, for which there is no law.
A. I make this a decree and order for the whole of my province, and, therefore, is to be observed as if it had been made before.
F. No one person, nor any number of persons, hath authority to make decrees or constitutions, except in convocation; which must be called together by the king’s writ: As 25 Henry VIII. and 1 Eliz., which is entitled, ” The Submission of the Clergy.”
A. I have the queen’s consent.
F. But that consent was not according to law provided in this behalf. Nor was it done in convocation.
A. I have the consent of my brethren and some others.
F. That was not according to the order of convocation, wherein we are to have our free choice of clerks.
Mr. Fenn remained under suspension a long time, during the whole of which period his cure was totally neglected. But by the kind favour of the Earl of Leicester, as appears from his letter to the archbishop, dated July 14, 1585, he was at length restored to his ministry, when he returned to his charge in Coventry. The same honourable person also promised, that he would treat with the bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, to obtain his favourable allowance. Though this excellent divine might probably enjoy peace and quietness for a season, his troubles were not ended. In the year 1591, an information was exhibited against him and many of his brethren, for being concerned in the classis, atending their associations, and subscribing the “Book of Discipline;” when they were all apprehended, and committed to prison. A circumstantial account of these proceedings, together with their examinations and endeavours to procure their deliverance, is given in another place. These worthy sufferers, during their confinement, presented a long letter to the queen, dated April, 1592, in vindication of their own innocency.t It does not, indeed, appear how long a time they remained in prison, after that period.
Upon Mr. Fenn’s release, he most probably returned to Coventry, where he spent the rest of his days. He died in a firm attachment to those principles for which he suffered. Mr. Clark observes, that he was famous for his ministry and nonconformity in the city of Coventry; and that in his last will and testament, he made so full and open a protestation against the hierarchy and ceremonies, that when his will was tendered to be proved, the prelates, or those of their party, would not allow it to have a place among the records of the court.

The Lives of the Puritans by Benjamin Brook, Volume 1