A couple of weeks ago I had the extraordinary privilege to attend The Master’s Seminary Regional Banquet in Greensboro, North Carolina. These banquets are intended to serve and encourage alumni, to nurture personal relationships with seminary supporters, and to reach out to prospective seminary students.
Dr. Richard Mayhue, Senior Vice President and Dean of The Master’s Seminary, was the keynote speaker for the evening. In what Dr. Mayhue called the “second model prayer of the New Testament”, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 gives us a model for how to pray for our pastors, as well as how pastors should pray for their flocks:
Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
Dr. Mayhue noted that our priority prayers for pastors are found in verses 1-2:
- We should pray that the word of the Lord would spread rapidly
- We should pray they would be delivered from evil men
Our primary mandate from Christ is to preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). This happens from behind the pulpit and by equipping the saints to go forth from the church building to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Paul’s prayer is that God’s Word would go forth rapidly and that His Word would be glorified through the preaching of the Gospel and the building up of Christ’s church.
There are evil men and impostors among us in the visible church. Men infiltrate the flock or rise up from among us, having agendas to promote themselves and their false teachings. They cause division, contention, strife, and envy. As Paul says to Timothy, they deceive and are being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13). In fact, Paul’s pastoral letters to Timothy are largely about warning against these false teachers. We need to pray for our pastors to be wise and discerning in protecting the flock. We need to pray for our elders to be protected from these malicious characters who by bringing false accusations against our leaders, do so to destroy God’s work in the local church.
Dr. Mayhue also pointed out five ways pastors can pray for their flock based on verses 3-5. For brevity, I will simply list them:
- that God would strengthen the body
- that God would protect them from the evil one
- that the flock would obey what is commanded of them
- that they would be fixed on the love of God, and manifest this sacrificial love in their own hearts towards Him and others
- that they would not deviate from the faith, but persevere with the patience, longsuffering, and humility of Christ.
God is faithful, beloved, and He accomplishes His purposes through the faithful prayers of His elect. He has given us clear instructions in how to pray for our leaders, and how leaders should pray for the sheep God has given them to shepherd. Let us be faithful to this exhortation, for the building, edification, and protection of Christ’s church, and for the glory of our great God and Savior.