Improve Your Prayer Life as a Pastor

We are pastors. This means that we are essentially professional believers. When your faith becomes your vocation, it’s easy to let your spiritual disciplines slip into the rhythms and routines of the workweek. Prayer and Bible study find themselves squeezed between staff meetings and trips to Costco.

Here’s what I want you to hear. Prayer is not just part of your job. It’s central to your life. It’s like the nucleus to a cell — providing power from the inside out. Ministry preparation should not be your only means of faith formation.

We must get back to basics. What does it look like when our ministries overflow from a healthy prayer life? How should we pray for our people? What should we do when our conversations with God grow disorganized and distant?

Let’s explore the words of Jesus when he taught his disciples, the founding pastors of Christianity, how to pray. This acts as a framework for our own faith formation.

Read Matthew 6:9-13:  
“This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” 

Let’s zoom into one phrase in this verse. Jesus says, “give us this day, our daily bread.” Christ is making two assumptions.

First, that we must pray every day. 
This goes far beyond praying before a meal and during a counseling session. We should allow prayer to be at the forefront of our daily routines. Just like your physical health struggles without exercise, your spiritual health struggles without prayer. Commit, from this day forward, to pray every single day.

Second, we should pray before we do anything else. 
When he mentions “daily bread,” this is likely an allusion to breakfast. Prayer should be the launchpad of your entire day. We should talk to God before we talk to anyone else. Before your next meeting, talk to God. Before you sit at your computer, talk to God. Before you meet up with your gym buddies, talk to God. Let God be the first and last person you speak to. This will radically transform all your relationships.

The Lord’s Prayer teaches us three important principles of prayer:
Rejoice

When Jesus taught us how to pray, the first line says, ‘Hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). A crucial ingredient of effective prayer is rejoicing. Jesus celebrated God’s character, goodness, and holiness in the very first line. We often approach prayer like a wish list, but it’s actually worship.

What does this look like when praying for your ministry? Thank God for all the wins you’ve seen. Thank God for the problems you’ve overcome. Celebrate all the good things around you. Are you having a hard time finding these things? Look at a list of all the people in your church. Every single name is a reason to rejoice. Praise Jesus for the lives you get to lead.  Tell God stories of life-change that you’ve seen. Every single person is a reason to praise God.

Reflect

Jesus then urges us to reflect on what God’s been doing and where He’s taking us. He achieves this using the language of “Kingdom.” He explains, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Take some intentional time to reflect on all God has brought you through and what He’s taking you through now. Yes, He certainly knows all about it. Like talking to a counselor or writing a journal, processing our experiences gives us a renewed attitude of gratitude. Share your concerns. Explain your ministry plans. Talk through your next message or series. Even consider inviting God into your summer calendar. When we take the intentional time to reflect in our prayers, we begin to see things more clearly.
This is where prayer gets extra personal. As you reflect your thoughts, God will step in and direct your steps. Whatever you’re working through, invite God into the process.

Request

We often think of prayer in the context of prayer requests. We collect them on Instagram, write them down after small group, and keep a list of them on our desks. Prayer requests are good, but they’re only a sliver of a satisfying prayer life.

In the last part of the Lord’s Prayer, Christ asks for provision, deliverance, and forgiveness. These are all requests. When teaching his friends how to pray, Jesus took them from rejoicing to reflecting and then to requesting. We often skip the first two and head right into requesting. It’s a natural temptation. Why? Because life can be hard and uncertain. Thus, we want God to intervene. However, prayer is so much bigger than changing circumstances. God wants to change you.

I would also encourage you to take some intentional time to pray for your ministry.
So what does requesting look like in a ministry context?

  • Ask God to build up strong families and marriages.
  • Ask for God to heal those who are sick.
  • Pray for Jesus to raise up new volunteers to serve in your ministry.
  • Ask God to reveal Himself in a new way to the people you lead.
  • Pray for God to protect the youth of your church.
  • Pray for unity in the church body.
  • Ask God to grant peace to those in difficult circumstances.
  • Pray that everyone becomes more like Jesus this week.

Prayer is powerful. It changes things. It changes lives. Invite God to consistently mold you, shape you, and grow you. Then, do the same for the people you serve. So, let’s pray together.

We have talked a lot about praying for our ministry, but I want to be sure you are also praying for your family. Your pastoral ministry starts in your own home. Be sure to come to God with rejoicing, reflection, and requests in every facet of your life.

  • If you’re married, rejoice in God for your marriage.
  • If you have children, reflect on all God is doing in your kids.
  • If you’re thriving, pray for God to stretch your own spiritual life.
  • If you’re struggling, pray for God to heal any brokenness within you.

One time, I said to my wife, “I guess all we can do is pray.” That’s a completely preposterous sentence. It wasn’t all I could do — it was all I should do. Prayer is a direct line to the power of God. There is no greater blessing than Going before our cosmic God in direct communication. Prayer is like oxygen for your soul. It’s not just important. It’s essential.

Watch the full message here:

Let us pray with you

Prayer is at the center of our pastoral support community. So let’s set up an intentional time to pray together. Email our pastoral support team at Pastor@ForMinistryResources.com or click the button below to schedule a call.

THIS BLOG CONTAINS LEADERSHIP MATERIAL FROM THE PASTOR CIRCLE. WHAT IS THE PASTOR CIRCLE?

We recently asked ourselves, “how can we serve pastors more personally?” The Pastor Circle is the answer. It’s a virtual small group community of pastors who understand what you’re going through and want to offer you godly support and guidance. We meet on Zoom once a month to listen to a short devotional and topic introduction, followed by a small group discussion. We hope to see you there next month! Click here to learn more about the Pastor Circle.