Building People of Substance for Works of Power
On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’(Mark 14:27 NLT)
God awakened me shortly after 2 AM this morning. I had an urgency to pray for one of my spiritual leaders, one who has spoken into my life for many years. As I lay in bed praying in the Spirit, I began to think of all the pastors of my acquaintance who have been attacked physically over the last two weeks. As I prayed for each of them, the Holy Spirit said, “Don’t forget Satan’s ‘strike the shepherd’ strategy.” As this year begins, I believe the assault on pastors and leaders has been turned up. Satan tried it with Jesus, but the resurrection foiled the plan. He is going to try it again as the church age rushes to a close.
Pastors and leaders have no special grace to live the Christian life. Their grace is to minister to the sheep. The sheep have the responsibility pray for their shepherds, because the enemy sees them as high-value targets. The attacks may come in different ways: health issues, doctrinal errors, character flaws, family and financial trouble, or even rabid sheep. If you know of specific needs in the lives of those who have spiritual oversight in your life, then pray for those things. In addition, here are some things Paul gave us to use as templates for prayer. Read them and pray them.
1. Ephesians 6:18-20 Pray for the right words and boldness to speak them
2. Col 4:2-4 Pray for opportunities to teach and preach, accuracy and clarity in presentation.
3. Rom 15:30-33 / 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 / Philippians 1:19. Pray for deliverance from harm, a good reception for the Word, favor with the sheep, and safety in travel. Pray especially for spiritual refreshing and renewal.
4. Hebrews 13:18-19. Pray for grace to live honorably.
5. Colossians 1:9-12 / Philippians 1:9-11 / Ephesians 1:15-23. General prayers for spiritual insight and revelation.
6. Romans 8:26-27 Pray in the Spirit when you don’t know specifics.
Here’s the point: The wild ride which will be 2020 has begun. One of the marks of the age will be assaults on our leadership. The responsibility to pray for our spiritual leaders is ours. This is vital. God has been teaching us how to pray and use our faith for many years. It’s time. Please make praying for your pastor and the leadership of your church a regular part of your daily routine. If you don’t, who will?
I can think of no better way to close than to quote Paul’s impassioned thanks for the grace of God and the prayers of the saints in saving him from destruction:
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.”(2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NLT)
Pastor Virgil Stokes