Recently Lewis from Maryland sent Pray! a question about how to encourage pastors in their prayer lives. He asked,
I wonder if anyone has thoughts about encouraging pastors in their prayer lives. From my studies of seminaries, I have found that only a few offer prayer courses. Most have none. The result is many pastors have a limited understanding on prayer. We need to find a way to encourage them!
I invited Phil Miglioratti, a former Pray! author and blogger for the Pastor's Prayer Network (among many other prayer-leader roles) to be serve as guest blogger to respond to this excellent question.
Lewis, your comments are sadly correct. Few pastors have had training in prayer, and most who preach on prayer focus exclusively on improving an individual's personal prayer life, which is vital, but ignores the need to identify intercessors and develop a vibrant prayer culture throughout the congregation.
So, how do we avoid cursing the darkness and light candles instead? Here are a few ideas.
• Pray. Pray for your pastor. Pray for other pastors the Holy Spirit leads you to pray for. Avoid reactive (praying about their weaknesses) prayers; rather, pray proactively (according to God's promises and purposes for their lives).
• Learn. Get a better understanding of the width and depth of developing a team of people who will shield and support your pastor with prayer. Prayer Shield by C. Peter Wagner (<http://www.gospellight.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10552&storeId=10052&productId=20332&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=23708&top_category=>) is an excellent practical resource.
• Read. Get your hands on several books that will strengthen your pastor's comprehension of prayer and praying then, after you've read them, pass them on to him or her. Giving Ourselves to Prayer (<http://www.prayershop.org/?Click=968>) is a good one to start with. Written as a textbook for Christian colleges and seminaries, it covers 80 topics related to prayer, from both practical and theological point of view.
• Model. When appropriate and the Holy Spirit leads you, include a prayer for your pastor when you participate in prayer with your
church, Sunday school class, small group, prayer meeting, committee or council session, choir practice, or anywhere else where you gather corporately and pray.
• Send. Prayer is better caught than taught. Many pastors need to go outside of their congregations to experience new or different ways of praying and to avoid the pressure of being perceived as an expert. The National Pastors' Prayer Summit (<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>) is designed precisely for this purpose. Band together with others to pay your pastor's way to an event that will refresh and recalibrate his or her understanding and practice of prayer.
• Search. Find out what the Lord is doing in prayer in your community. Investigate the ministries of other congregations, visit citywide houses of prayer, and receive email newsletters (ask your pastor if you can subscribe the church edress to the best ones. Along with Pray! Online News, consider the Church Prayer Leaders Network (<http://prayerleader.com/>) and visit the Praying Pastor Blog (<http://prayingpastorblog.blogspot.com/>).
•Pray (again!). By you are probably tired and may even feel overwhelmed. Cast your cares on the Lord; Jesus is more interested in your pastor becoming a prayer champion than you are. So give thanks, and keep on praying!
Thanks, Phil, for that great response. I invite you readers to share your own experiences and positive ideas about how to encourage pastors in their prayer lives. Talk to us!