Remember 2020? That was hard (pandemic, protests, etc.).
Remember 2021 and how it was supposed to be easier? It wasn’t (more pandemic, more political turmoil, and even supply chain issues, etc.)
Remember 2022 and how it was supposed to be easier? Also hard (war in Ukraine, intense inflation and economic struggles, and more etc.)
Halfway through 2023 it doesn’t appear this will be the year when everything suddenly gets easy. We have mass shootings and mental health crises and many things from prior years are still challenges today. The pastors I’m friends with continue to fight battles they never saw coming while trying to serve God and love people.
Yes, it’s been another hard year for church leaders. And perhaps that will always be true, because pastors serve people.
If I could pick one passage of scripture to put inside the hearts of our pastors as they minister through yet another year of more pain than anyone would wish, it would be 2 Timothy 2:8–13. These words Paul wrote to pastor Timothy are special, powerful, and always timely. They serve as a beautiful, simple prayer list for pastors in hard seasons.
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and descended from David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer to the point of being bound like a criminal. But the word of God is not bound. This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy: For if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.”
Let’s meditate on this passage as we pray for our fellow church leaders around the world.
1. Pray That Pastors Remember Jesus Christ.
Lord, thank you for the work of Jesus. He is our only hope. God, we intercede on behalf of the leaders of Your churches, that You will help them remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. God, we pray that tonight or tomorrow or right now, they will go to You, not just for answers, but for the joy of being loved by You. Help our pastors remember the simple and life-changing truth that Jesus loves them and the people they shepherd. Help them remember they need You, have You, and that in You they have life in abundance. Give our pastors the joy of their salvation, God. Help them remember Jesus.
2. Pray That Pastors Believe the Word of God Is Not Bound.
Lord, will You melt the hearts of our shepherds and strengthen their souls by Your Word? May they trust the Bible’s power to change even what looks most hopeless. God, let the church leaders in this season delight themselves in the law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night. Father, Your Word is not bound. Help pastors, and those they serve, trust the Bible to be the sharp sword they need and the blazing light for their path. Let us be devoted and surrendered to Your world-changing Word. It is not bound. We are not bound.
3. Pray That Pastors Endure All Things For the Elect.
Father, will You help our pastors endure? Help them hold on to their hope and calling. Help pastors endure the criticisms, letdowns, and losses this season has brought. Give them wisdom and guidance on how to lead worshipers and make disciples even when it feels like life is falling apart. Help them, God, to love and serve Your people powerfully and creatively. Give them the Spirit-led strength they need to care for and support those in their flock who are suffering. Help them endure all things so others may find peace in you.
4. Pray That Pastors Rest in God’s Faithfulness.
God, You cannot deny Yourself. You will not. You are faithful. You always have been, and You always will be. Please help the leaders You’ve called to ministry at such a time as this remember Your faithfulness, model Your faithfulness, and most importantly, delight in and cherish Your faithfulness to them. Lead them to recount the ways You’ve shown Your love, goodness, and strength in the past. You never fail. Give our pastors joy as they continue to endure the hardship of this work, serving faithfully the people You’ve entrusted to them. Let them deeply know You will never leave them. You will never forsake them. You will never cease to love them. You are with them in the rubble, and You make all things new.
We pray in hope. Amen.
An earlier version of this article was published at outreachmagazine.com.