The picture above could easily be entitled, “A Pastor Reviews His Sermon on the Night before Preaching It.”
The average Saturday night of a pastor probably goes something like this…
The holy butterflies start. They may even start first thing on Saturday morning. It’s Saturday, but Sunday morning is coming. A weight begins to settle on the chest. Doubts begin to creep in. Spiritual warfare begins to intensify. The accuser of the brethren whispers, “If you preach that sermon, you’re the biggest hypocrite of all.”
But he knows he’s a hypocrite. In fact, he’s acutely aware of it. As he’s studied the text, the text has revealed just how sinful and in need of grace he is. The thought quickly enters his mind to change his sermon at the last minute.
No. He mustn’t because he knows, deep down, this is the Word from the Lord his particular people need to hear on this particular Sunday.
It’s not all dread. There’s excitement, too. And joy. It’s Saturday night and Sunday morning is coming. Lives will be changed. Hearts will be encouraged. By the salve of the Spirit and the balm of the Word of God, soul’s will be strengthened. Your pastor is fired up and ready to go, but he’s also likely feeling that he’s not ready at all.
Your pastor loves you and with the time he has had between meetings, counseling, planning, and all the unforeseen situations that popped up, he has labored to prepare a meal, a feast, a holy offering for the soul’s of God’s people under his care. God’s people are to be fed as the Holy Spirit ministers the Word to you.
He longs to see a great work of God in the hearts of the people. He hopes that this Sunday will be the day that a prayer is answered or a life is changed forever. Whether he realizes it or not, all of this and so much more is churning around in his subconscious.
He feels the weight of the preaching moment. It’s a holy moment. It’s a terrifying moment. It is terrifying to open his fleshly lips and dare admonish, “Thus saith the Lord.”
It doesn’t get much better after the sermon either. He will be his toughest critic. Sure, he will hear the comments. “Great sermon, preacher.” Or, “I really needed that.” But he’ll know what he wanted to say. He’ll know what he forgot to say. He’ll ask his wife, “What did you think of the message?” To which she’ll reply, “It was really good.” (She always says that.)
By now you get the point. Your pastor needs your prayers. I stress the word need. We need you to pray for us. I know we’re charged with your spiritual oversight, but we need you sometimes. We need them all the time but especially on Saturday night.
It’s Saturday and your pastor needs your prayers. So how can you pray for your pastor on Saturday night? I want to suggest at least seven ways you can pray for your pastor on Saturday night.
(1) Pray that your pastor will have rest.
I know you’re probably thinking the first point should be super-spiritual. We are, however, embodied beings. Our soul affects our body and our body affects our soul. When your pastor doesn’t sleep well, he wakes up Sunday morning physically tired and mentally sluggish. Pray for a good night’s sleep. Pray for him to trust the Lord who called him and equipped him. Pray for him to trust the same grace which he’ll admonish others to trust.
(2) Pray that your pastor will confess sin.
You’ll want your pastor to be clean and close to Jesus when he steps in the pulpit. Do you struggle with confessing sin? Do you always do it immediately when you should? Your pastor is no different. Pray that pride and distraction will not keep him from confessing his sin, repenting of his sin, and seeking forgiveness from God.
(3) Pray your pastor will “preach Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 1:23).
Your pastor is not there to tickle your ears, to stroke your ego, or to entertain you. Your pastor is a herald of one message – the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray that he will make much of Jesus’s person (who he was and is) and his work (what he did and does).
Your pastor may stutter; he may be monotoned; he may mispronounce a word. His suit or attire may not match. His tie may be tacky and his pants a bit faded. He may have a thick accent. He may have facial hair that you find disgusting (or a lack of it that you find problematic). His wife may find it nice when it’s short but gross if it gets too long–I mention for no reason.
(4) Pray that your pastor will “preach the Word” (2 Tim 4:2).
He’s there to herald. He’s there to proclaim. He’s there to preach. Preach what? The Word of God. That’s his responsibility, task, his form, and his content. Pray that he will, above all and before all, preach the Word of God faithfully, boldly, with clarity and with conviction.
(5) Pray that your pastor will trust the Spirit.
We’re not immune to the temptation to trust in ourselves. We study to be clear, effective communicators. We learn from rhetoricians past and present. All of that, when received with the right spirit, can be a boon to a pastor’s preaching ministry. The more we study how to be effective communicator’s, however, the easier it is to fall into the trap of thinking that our words actually have any power. Pray for you pastor to trust the Spirit of God to speak through him.
(5) Pray that your pastor will leave the results to the Lord.
Also, pray for your pastor to trust the unseen work of the Spirit. Often it’s another Sunday and another day where no one comes up during the invitation. It can be disheartening if it were not for the promise that the Word of God does not return void (Is 55:11). Pray that your pastor will trust the Spirit of God to do what the pastor cannot see.
(6) Pray that your pastor will love you enough to tell you the truth.
Most pastors don’t just “step on your toes” simply for the sake of stepping on your toes. Pray that your pastor will not downplay the strong language and demands of Scripture. Pray that he will teach you and call you to the hard sayings. Pray that he will also not shy away from proclaiming the wonderful grace of God. Pray that his heart is right when he says what he says. Ask God to help your pastor speak the truth in love.
(7) Pray that your pastor will have divine protection from the enemy.
Whether the enemy is Satan or the pastor’s own flesh, pray for divine protection. The ministry of the Word as exercised through the weekly preaching of the Word is a ministry which puts a target on the back of any man who would dare to step into the pulpit. Pray that the Lord would protect him from attacks from without and from within. Whether it’s the devil or doubt, pray for protection for his heart, his soul, his ministry, and his integrity.
(8) Pray for your pastor’s family. Lastly, pray for your pastor’s family since Sunday is often a hectic day for the pastor and his family. Often the pastor does not get to worship with his family and he likely sees less of his family on Sunday mornings than he does on other days. While it understandable to a point, it still means that the family needs prayer. Think about it. Yes, God has called that man to that ministry, but the wife also loans him out on Sunday.
Perhaps the most unseen hero of Sunday is the pastor’s wife. While her husband is in the hallway visiting or praying in his office, and while he’s leading the service and preaching, she’s making sure the kids sit still and she makes sure they have the pencils and paper they need. While that’s your pastor up there, it’s her pastor too, but it’s also her husband up there. She knows he’s called too, but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes she feels alone on Sunday mornings.
Pray for his children too. Pray for them like you would for your own children. Pray for their salvation. Pray that they would see their dad as a flawed man who loves Jesus and their mom as a flawed woman who loves Jesus. Pray for them as the position they are in as “Pastor’s Kids” often places unfair and unhelpful expectations.
There are many ways to pray for your pastor tonight. It’s Saturday night and he will need all the prayers of the saints. Praying for you pastor is also a way to prepare your own heart.
May I suggest one last point of application? Don’t just pray for your pastor, his wife, and his family. Tomorrow morning, make a conscious effort to connect with the pastor, his wife, and his kids in order to simply say something encourage.
Tell the pastor, “I’m so thankful you’re here.” Tell the wife, “We love you and thank you so much for letting us borrow your husband every week so we may grow in our walk with the Lord.” Tell the kids, “We love you and we love your parents. Thanks so much for letting us borrow your daddy every week as he teaches us about Jesus.”
Pray. Please pray for your pastor. He needs it. I need it. We all need it!