In October, 2010, the pastor appreciation committee of our board asked me to pray for our pastoral staff on Appreciation Sunday. The request took my breath away. How to pray? What to pray? For the next several weeks I sat in my pew searching the faces of the people across the sanctuary. I wanted to feel their love as well as my own love for our staff. My prayer on appreciation Sunday is below. Perhaps you could whisper your own prayer for your pastor and your pastoral team.
I want to bring our pastoral staff to You. Most often pastors pray for the congregation. However, today we want to pray especially for our pastors. We have so many emotions and thoughts, so many stories and memories in our hearts. We begin our prayer with the example from Scripture: “I thank God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3).
We thank God for memories that touch our families. We picture of children who come home from Sunday school vacation Bible school, eager to tell a brand-new story, a story of Jesus they have heard for the first time. We recall teenagers who attended a retreat or a church camp; when they returned, their behavior had strangely improved and their attitude was different. In our mind’s eye we can see couples united in marriage, babies presented to the Lord, and loved ones laid to rest.
We thank God, even for memories that touch our brokenness and pain. Thank you for pastors who listen to stories we would not tell anyone else. They listen with compassion, grace, wisdom and direction. I can see them standing in a hospital room, walking with us as we have lost a job, helping us face the complexities, uncertainties and chaos of life.
We thank God for memories that are only echoes to us. We hear only the faint sound and see the results of work that is done behind the scenes and out of sight. We never see the late nights and early mornings, the menial tasks and Monday and routines, the monotonous and ordinary things that must be done, week after week and month after month in order to keep the church open, the lights on, and our community of faith meeting together.
We thank God for the memory of great moments of worship and salvation. There are private moments as well as corporate experiences when God’s presence is so real. Sometimes it is in the sanctuary at other times in an office. Occasionally it is in a living room or at a lunch counter. We remember moments when Jesus came to take up residence in a heart and a person was born anew. We are so grateful for people who came in to a fullness of God’s spirit as they consecrated their lives and you cleansed the heart and empowered them to serve in love. We all can remember hardships and victories that, with the encouragement of our pastors, we brought under the reign of God. As a result, we could stand a little taller and walk with more strength in our souls.
But most of all, today, we thank God for men and women who are thoroughly dedicated to you, filled with your spirit, and eager to follow your will. Give them the accoutrements they need for the spiritual struggle, the struggle they wage on our behalf. Give them the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes that walk in peace. In addition, give them a shield of faith and the helmet of salvation, as well as the sword of the Spirit, which is your Word. As our pastors pray and serve to your glory and on our behalf, may we pray and serve alongside them the as true partners in your good Gospel.
Copyright 2011 © Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.