The following is an article which I wrote in 1985 when I was the pastor of the Flourtown Alliance Church in Flourtown, Pennsylvania.
The great need of the church of Jesus Christ today is Spirit filled leaders: men who have been with God, whom Jesus Christ is transforming, and who are able to impart vision and strong and mature leadership.
Only through prayer can the church receive such men for leadership. Only through prayer can such men be given ministries of spiritual effectiveness. Jesus himself counselled his disciples, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). Only through prayer can the men already in leadership positions show continued spiritual growth and increasing fruitfulness. The very nature of ministry makes it imperative that a man be called and empowered from God, since “. . . the Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). The man of God will then be called from a Spirit wrought burden, prepared by the daily living out of the Bible, and taught by the Spirit until he becomes a tested, proved, conscientious disciple whose example can be followed without fear.
Throughout the ages great men of God have sought prayer for church leaders out of their recognition that their own labors would have been fruitless without it. John Wesley once wrote, “How does a praying congregatino strengthen the preacher!” Charles Finney once remarked, “Brethren, if you felt how much ministers need wisdom to perform the duties of their great office with success, and how insufficient they are of themselves, you would pray for them a great deal more than you do; that is, if you cared anything for the success of their labors.” R.A. Torrey once said, “Any church may have a mighty man of God for its pastor, if it is willing to pay the price, and that price is not a big salary but great praying.”
How, then, should one pray for his pastor? He should pray first of all for him to experience the abiding fullness of the Holy Spirit in his life. Apart from the empowering that Jesus Christ imparts, a man of God can do nothing of lasting spiritual value.
Pray for your minister to experience the sanctifying fullness of the Spirit. The example of the messenger especially upholds the credibility of the messenger in the ministry of the Word. Ask that he be purified from ungodly influences and practices, and become himself an example of a transformed, Christlike life.
The vision and burden of the Lord are likewise necessary fro the message of the man of God. Pray that your pastor will acquire a heavenly perspective, that of the Word of God itself. He will then not reinforce men and women in what they already know so that they become complacent in the faith. Rather, he will become one who is able to express the realities of salvation to them, so that they might live in divine direction and comfort.
Seek from God also the empowering of the Spirit for the entire ministry of your pastor, so that he will be effective out of the pulpit as well as in it. Then he will know the direction of the Spirit not only in the preparation and delivery of his sermons, but also in his visitation and even in his casual conversations. The Lord might then open hearts before him for witness and edificatino that otherwise would not be given.
Finally, the minister needs the fullness of the Spirit to become a man of prayer himself. The Spirit of grace and supplication will then teach him how to approach the Father through Jesus Christ in an acceptable fashion. Unless he learns to do this on his own, his own life will become a hindrance to the flow of the Spirit.
The price that the congregation will pay for their pastor’s anointing will be prayer: specific, heartfelt, beliving prayer. The results, though, will more than justify the effort, as men and women come to Christ and are build up in the faith under the leadership of a Spirit filled ministry submissive to Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church.
Jonathan Edwards once said, “If some Christians that have been complaining of their ministers had said and acted less before men and had applied themselves with all their might to cry to God for their ministers — had, as it were, risen and stormed heaven with their humble, fervent and incessant prayers for them — they would have been much more in the way of success.” Could not the people of God in our churches then call a halt to criticism of their pastors — and replace it with prayer?