Because the apostle Paul’s ministry demanded so much of him and because there was so much resistance to stop him, he knew he needed as much prayer support as he could get! That is why he wrote to the Romans and asked, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.”
By studying this specific prayer request of the apostle Paul, we can gain insights about how we need to be praying for our own pastors or for those who are in spiritual authority over our lives. So let’s take a few minutes to seriously look at these verses today to see what we can learn about praying for our spiritual leaders.
First, Paul makes the following request: “… that ye strive together with me in your prayers….”
The words “strive together” are taken from the Greek word sunagonidzomai, which is a compound of the words sun and agonidzo. The word sun means together and carries the meaning of doing something with someone else. The word agonidzo means to agonize. It indicates an intense agony; a violent struggle; anguish; contending with an enemy; or fighting in a contest.
This tells me that Paul was in a great spiritual battle at the time he wrote this prayer request. In fact, the fight was so intense that he felt the need for others to join with him in prayer. He didn’t want to face this spiritual fight alone, so he opened his heart and asked others to join with him in fighting this battle.
As you pray for your pastor or spiritual leader, remember that he or she needs your support in prayer. Just as Jesus requested Peter, James, and John to pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, your pastor needs your prayer support. Yes, he can pray alone, but it will be such a help for him to know that others are standing in faith and in the Spirit with him. The apostle Paul needed this, and your pastor needs it as well.
Second, Paul specifically asked them to pray: “That I may be delivered from them that do not believe…” (v. 31). The word “delivered” is the Greek word ruomai, which means to be rescued, to deliver, to snatch out of, or to drag out of danger.
It may sound strange that Paul would request others to pray that he would be delivered from those who didn’t believe. But Paul had gone through many experiences with “unbelievers” who resisted him, as well as with so-called “brethren” who gave him constant troubles. It is simply a fact that the devil works primarily through people. When he wants to stop the advancement of the Gospel, he often tries to resist a local church or pastor by stirring up someone in the community to be against the pastor. Sometimes the enemy even uses people inside the local church to create problems that bring division and disaster. So when you pray for your pastor, remember to pray that he will be snatched out of the traps and snares set for him by people who have wrong motives.
Third, Paul requested prayer: “… that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints” (v. 31). The word “service” is the Greek word diakonia, which is the Greek word for the ministry. The word “accepted” is the Greek word euprosdektos, which means to be pleasing, acceptable, or well-received.
This is an expected prayer request from a preacher! Paul has sought God through prayer and listened to hear what the Lord is saying to his spirit because he wants to do well in his ministry. Paul desires every word to be spoken correctly, accurately, and in a way that pleases God. Furthermore, he wants people to believe in the sincerity of his motives and not to question whether he has ulterior motives for speaking to them about the Lord. Thus, he prays that his ministry to the saints in Jerusalem will be well received.
As you pray for your pastor, be sure to include this item on your prayer list! Pray that his ministry will be blessed and accepted and that people will receive him and hear his heart the way he means to convey it. He needs your prayer power working behind him as he takes specific words from God into various situations.
Fourth, Paul requested that the believers in Rome pray “that I may come unto you with joy…” (v. 32). The word “joy” is the Greek word chara, meaning joy, gladness, or rejoicing. This simply means Paul wanted to have joy in his ministry! He had faced many hardships that gave him opportunities to lose his joy—such as broken friendships, dashed expectations, political turmoil, church divisions, and so on. Paul’s request was very simple: “Please pray that I will have and will keep my joy in the middle of everything I have to deal with in my ministry!”
Just think of the things that happen in your own life that tempt you to lose your joy. What about your pastor? Think of all the people he counsels, the marriages he tries to help, the sermons he has to prepare, and the organization he has to oversee. Then on top of all that, think of the disappointment your pastor is tempted to feel when people he has helped in the past decide to leave the church. I guarantee you that there are many opportunities for your pastor to lose his joy.
So take Paul’s prayer request to heart and apply it to your pastor. Pray that your pastor will have and will hold on to his joy in spite of everything he has to deal with in his ministry!
Fifth, Paul prayed: “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God….” The word “will” is the Greek word thelema, meaning the design, purpose, plan, or will. Paul wanted to be right in the middle of God’s will for his life!
Just as we pray to make no mistakes and to be right where God wants us to be, Paul prayed the very same prayer! He wanted the saints to pray that he would make no mistakes and that he might always stay in the perfect plan of God.
So when you pray for your pastor, pray that he will have the wisdom to know what he is supposed to do in the various situations he faces in his ministry. Questions come at him all day long, and he needs your prayer support to make right decisions. And just as Paul requested prayer that he would be in the will of God, help your pastor by strongly praying that he will stay sensitive to the Spirit so he can avoid making costly mistakes and follow God’s will for himself and for the church.
Sixth, Paul requested prayer that be might be “refreshed” (v. 32). The word “refreshed” is the Greek word sunanapauomai, a compound of the words sun and anapauomai. The word sun means together with, as to do or to experience something with someone else. The word anapauomai means to calm, to soothe, to refresh, or to be refreshed. When these two words are positioned together, they become the word sunanapauomai, which means to be refreshed with someone else.
Everyone needs to be refreshed from time to time—including pastors and preachers! People tend to think that pastors and preachers don’t need the same refreshing that others need, but everyone needs to be refreshed and touched by God from time to time! Paul makes his need for refreshment known by telling his Roman readers, “I need to be refreshed just like the rest of you, so please pray that I will be refreshed!”
As you pray for your pastor, or for the ministries and missionaries you support, use this prayer request of the apostle Paul to guide you in your prayers. This prayer was included in the New Testament by the Holy Spirit to let us know that everyone—including ministers of the Gospel—need people to stand behind them in prayer. So why not use this prayer as a tool to help you pray more effectively for the spiritual leaders to whom God has connected you?
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I am making the decision to stand with my pastor in prayer! I want to join him as a sincere prayer partner and support him spiritually by praying for him. I ask You to deliver him from people who have wrong motives. I also pray that his ministry will be well received; that he will have joy in his ministry; that he will make right decisions and stay in the will of God; and that he will always feel strong and refreshed in his spirit, soul, and body. Please richly bless my pastor, his wife, and his family.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am a strong support to my pastor and his family. I regularly pray for him and for the other ministries and missionaries God has called me to support. They need my prayer power—and I stand with them in the Spirit for God’s blessings to come upon their lives!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you spend time praying for your pastor and the needs he may be facing in his own life? If you were a pastor, don’t you think that you would want your congregation to be praying for you?
- Based on Paul’s prayer request in Romans 15:30-32, what is the most important thing you can be praying for your pastor right now?
- As you pray, do you sense the Holy Spirit prompting you to pray anything special for your pastor and his family? If so, pay close attention to that prompting, for it may be a special leading of the Holy Spirit to show you how to support him and his family in prayer, especially at this present time.