Effective Prayers for Calling a New Shepherd
Updated: Mar 18
II. How to Select the Right Pastor
III. Praying for a New Pastor’s Strength
IV. Praying for a Church's Wisdom
V. Praying for the Church’s Unity in Christ
Should I Pray for a Pastor
The answer on whether you should pray for a Pastor, any Pastor, is yes. However, and although antithetical in our culture, a Pastor is nothing more than another believer. When we preach sermons, it may seem we are something more than others, but this is not biblically true. As a current serving Shepherd, it distresses me that people believe me somehow more important than they are in the eyes of God. Most will say they know we are all the same in God’s eyes - but their behavior says something different. The bigger idea is we should not only pray for our Pastors, but one another as well.
Here are Bible verses encouraging us to pray for one another:
1. James 5:16 – this Scripture highlights the importance of praying for one another’s healing. It also teaches we should not be afraid to confess our sins to others as well. As we all know, to point fingers at others rather than ourselves is easy. Few things are as difficult as self-examination.
2. 1st Timothy 2:1 – written by the Apostle Paul, this teaching discusses the importance of prayer for everyone, not just those we are close to. Some of the greatest blessings come from people we may not understand or agree with.
3. Ephesians 6:18 - the Book of Ephesians teaches that we should continually pray for all of God’s people, and this also means church leadership. Just make sure it is done in Holy Ghost love. If you cannot do so, please keep your mouth shut.
In summary, and if you are doing so in the right spirit, it is a Holy Ghost act to pray for your soon to be church leader. However, you should not do so grudgingly nor because you simply feel like being a “good Christian”.
How to Select the Right Pastor
The way to select a new Pastor is removing your personal desires and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. By the time you read this, you will have gathered many tips and ideas on selecting a new Pastor. Any selection process must begin with prayer. However, you do not, or will not select a new Shepherd, Jesus Christ does. It is your job to be obedient to that selection. God’s people get into trouble when making THEIR leadership selection. Who could forget the story of Israel’s demand for a king that turned out to be the wicked Saul?
Here are the only three (3) things you need to do for God’s Will to be realized in your selection process:
1. Have faith the choice is already made by the Lord. Our flesh says that we have faith, but we personally believe we should set the selection criteria. Any pastoral selection criteria you put forward must be supported by Scripture. 1st Timothy 3 is a great place to start. To believe in biblical prophecy, is to accept the future is already written. If I accept the future is already written, is it credible to think God has forgotten to select a kingdom leader at your church? Why, then, would you set YOUR criteria which will only result in missing God's man? The "seeing eye" (flesh based) would have selected the religious leaders, such as the Pharisees. However, our Lord had Kingdom criteria resulting in what amounted to those religious leadership rejected!
2. Accept that God’s choice may not be yours. Churches are often split because one (1) faction of the body didn’t receive the Pastor they wanted while the other did. The reason the American church is so backslidden has nothing to do with the culture surrounding us. It has everything to do with 80% of our churches having the wrong leaders in place. You cannot study God’s word and yet believe that every person preaching from the pulpit is God’s choice. There’s an eternal difference between God knowing (who the choice will be) and His ordaining that choice. Everything that happens is not God’s Will unless you think sin is as well. Again, even sin can further His Will (like Judas' s betrayal of Jesus), but sin could not be His Will.
3. Pray God’s will is sovereign: God’s sovereignty is often rejected in the life of the pastoral selection process. The wrong people will always make the wrong selection. I have seen this happen repeatedly. When I indicate wrong choice, an example is the choice the Jews were given between Jesus Christ and Barabbas. Most often, the church crowd (though not real disciples) will choose “Pastor Barabbas”.
In summary, praying for a new Pastor is Godly but the Lord must guide the process and not your carnal "checklists". The choice is already made you must walk in it. Churches which struggle, split, and eventually close often rejected God’s choice in favor of someone they prefer. If, for instance, one (1) of your chief concerns is gathering college transcripts as a qualifier, your decision process is already flesh based. I have advanced college education but God’s next choice to lead our church may not.
Praying for a New Pastor’s Strength
You need a Pastor who will demonstrate the strength of the Holy Spirit in ministry. We Pastors always pray for others while in desperate need of prayer ourselves. Right now, especially during the “calling” process, intercede for both your church and its new leader. On our way to a new assignment, there are more demonic obstacles than you know! How about praying for the strength of the Shepherd whom your church has not even selected yet? Or, if you have both prayed and chosen, fasting for his leadership of God’s Sheep.
Here is a simple prayer for the pastoral selection process:
“Lord, we are at a very vulnerable time as a congregation. We have lost a leader and a new one (1) is on the way. I am not sure who the new leader is, but you know. I don’t know who this will be but please intervene in the name of Jesus. You have set him apart for this task. Give him strength Lord, renew his spirit, and help him remain obedient on his journey here. I cannot imagine the burden you have placed on his shoulders, but I know you understand. You came in the form of a servant, suffered, and died in an unimaginable way. Your Word tells us that You were, in all ways tempted as are we, yet without sin. I plead, in the name of Jesus, that because you struggled for us, you’re your Holy Spirit guides us in Jesus’ name Amen.” – end-
Praying for a Church's Wisdom
“In the name of Jesus Christ, allow wisdom to dwell in this church and the decision you have set to our hands. Lord, Your word says ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock on the door shall be opened. Lord, I, your servant, am asking and seeking wisdom in this selection process. Guide this church, and your new servant in the path you have ordained. Like your servant King Hezekiah, I turn my face to the wall and plead that you forget us not. Lord, I pray protection on this body of Believers, our families and claim spiritual wholeness in this hour. It is at times like these we, as a people, in the body of Christ, either get stronger or thrown into a place of discouragement. Lift us up on every leaning side. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.“-end-
Praying for the Church’s Unity in Christ
It is also crucial that the church be as unified as possible during this crucial time. Of course, even with smaller congregations, this is rarely, if ever, the case. For instance, there were three (3) candidates to replace the Pastor of our church. All three (3), me being one (1), had distinctly different styles of leadership. Eventually, and before time ever was, the Lord ordained me as the church’s second Pastor in its nearly forty (40) year history. A church body experiencing unity is not Satan’s desire, and a pastorless church is the devil’s playground!
There are always congregants who think they know what’s best for everyone else. They do not even know what is best for them, but the task of knowing this for everyone else seems easy to them. Go figure. Anyhow, one (1) of the three (3) candidates, was arrested during the selection process! He was abusive and even physically intimidated a mother in our church. To a group of members, none of this mattered. In their minds, he was their guy and God’s man.
If candidates are external, this may not always be so obvious. However, what is obvious is that God knows everything and will reveal His choice for leadership. I did not tell that story so that you may think I am somehow better than anyone else. The reality is I am not the right Pastor for so many other churches. Yet God has an assignment for everyone He called to proclaim His Word to a dying world.
Here is a short prayer for church unity during the process of calling Shepherd:
“Lord God, as your Word says, we are your people and the sheep of your pasture. We are currently without a shepherd, but we are believing you are going to shift that situation. Please give those you have charged Holy Ghost guidance regardless of their personal agendas. We remember your Word says that your thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are your ways our ways. Help us accept your will for this body of believers. Our faith is shown most gloriously when we do not understand and remain obedient rather than when we do. Although we desire to understand your ways, our greatest desire is to follow you. Please protect this congregation from the sharks and wolves circling it right now. In Jesus name we pray Amen”. -End-
The final part of that prayer is more crucial than you know! When the Pastor of our congregation died, I was personally stunned by how many ambitious preachers schemed, plotted, and stepped out of God’s will in pursuit of misplaced desires. It was the most disgusting experience I have ever witnessed in the church. The Bible says: “he who desires to be a bishop desires a good thing“. However, that does not mean this is God’s desire for them, nor should they try to steal what does not belong to them.
As I close, the prayer and choice you will make is the most important of your life. This is not hyperbole either. This choice will literally affect the eternity of the people the new Pastor leads. This is not simply making a choice which, if wrong, can immediately be corrected and moved on from. It is much more serious than that. Treated it as such.
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