How should pastors pray for themselves? Drawing on years of pastoral experience, Dr. Charlie Wingard encourages pastors to pray for specific characteristics to help them in their ministry. A lightly edited transcript is found below.
What should our pastors pray for? The list could go on and on. But let me give three things that I think are particularly important for pastors to pray for in relationship to their churches.
Pray for a Forgiving Spirit
First of all, they need to pray for a forgiving spirit. There are a lot of wounds and injuries that come during your time as a pastor, and you have to become highly committed to overlooking offenses. And then when there are sins committed against you, whether the person asks for forgiveness or not, you need to have a forgiving spirit toward them. If not, your ministry will be filled with bitterness and anger and resentment. There are a lot of wounds and injuries that come during your time as a pastor, and you have to become highly committed to overlooking offenses.
It’s also very important that you be a role model to your congregation in demonstrating to them how you are well aware that in your words and in your behavior you often sin against them. You want to be quick to confess that sin to the Lord and just as quick to confess to the one that you’ve offended and ask for your forgiveness. I think it’s really important that pastors be praying for a forgiving spirit.
Pray for Contentment
I also think it’s essential that pastors be praying for contentment. Many times we find ourselves serving in places that are out of the way where there is little in the way of resources to do the work of church ministering. We’re not as well-paid as we would like to be, and that can be a real struggle. We have to pray to the Lord God that he’d give us that spirit of contentment so that whatever the people of God are able to provide for us, we thank the Lord for those gifts of God’s people. Praise him for that, not complain about them, but learn to live within the means that God provides in the churches where we serve. It’s so important that we cultivate a contented heart.
Pray for Gentleness
A minister of the gospel should always be praying for a forgiving spirit, for contentment in the Lord’s provision, and for gentleness of spirit.And the last thing that I think is so important for us to pray for as ministers is gentleness. If I could have a do-over in my life (and of course there are no do-overs), but if I could have a do-over, I would want to be a much more gentle person. That doesn’t mean not being firm when that’s required, but gentle, treating people with tenderness, affection. We need to pray for that, that as we approach people, we approach them in meekness and kindness and humility.
So I think a minister of the gospel should always be praying for a forgiving spirit, for contentment in the Lord’s provision, and for gentleness of spirit.