Pray For God's Leaders
Pastors and evangelists pray for those they minister to. But who will pray for the ministry leaders? Ministry colleagues, friends and family will pray - but what about the people who receive ministry? It is no accident that the writer of these verses, and the apostle Paul, asked their churches to pray for them (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Their request was not selfish but that they might be more effective in gospel ministry (Ephesians 6:19), or be released from prison to continue to serve the churches (Colossians 4:18), or be strengthened not to disown Christ when under pressure (Romans 15:30; Colossians 4:2-4).
No Bible writer claimed perfection, but they also knew the freedom of a clear conscience through the sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 10:22) and were determined to live in a way which pleased the Lord (Ephesians 5:10). They sought to be models of godly living and as such knew they were fully dependent on the Lord. Without Him they could achieve nothing of value in His Kingdom (John 15:5); and so they enlisted the help of disciples, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion (Matthew 26:41).
It may well be that the writer was in prison, unable to reach the people except through this letter. However he longed to be able to visit the believers to encourage them (Colossians 4:8). Written communication is good, but a personal visit is much better. That is why Paul took such trouble to go to the fledgling churches in person, or to send one of his team like Timothy or Titus. It is hard to live the Christian life well and we all need much encouragement; in these days of fast global communication, personal visits still have an important place in the life and ministry of the local church.
When we receive a gift we ought to express our thanks. Like material on the Internet, many people think that ministry is free to them to use as consumers, so no thanks is due; or if they financially support a pastor, then that ministry is the minister's contractual obligation. Giving thanks is a sacrifice (Hebrews 13:15), but it is a necessary part of honourable relationships. Praying for one another is another normal part of relating in the family of God (James 5:16). The Lord to whom we pray has all power, so why are we reluctant to pray for our leaders or other believers (Ephesians 6:18)? Possibly because either we do not care about their ministry objectives, or we think they are self sufficient, or we have little idea about the struggles they face – combined with their personal reluctance to burden us. If we are commanded to pray for civic rulers (1 Timothy 2:1-4), how much more should we pray for ministry leaders?
© Dr Paul Adams