by Heidi Swander
I was stunned recently by the story of a pastor from Brazil. One day in the not-too-distant past he was airborne and seated next to a lady who, at 6 p.m., began praying fervently. When an opportune moment presented itself, he asked her if she was a Christian. Much to his chagrin she said, no, that she was praying to her father, Satan, for the demise of pastor so-and-so.
As the conversation progressed, this Brazilian pastor found out that the Church of Satan worldwide has set aside the 6 p.m. hour every day to pray for the demise of the Christian church, and most specifically for its pastors. It would also appear that they assume or are assigned specific Christian leaders to pray against.
Now think about this for a moment: It is always 6 p.m. somewhere in the world. So 24 hours a day “prayers” are being directed to the god of this world for the destruction of Christian pastors and the churches they shepherd. What does this mean?
It means we darn well better get on our knees — and particularly for our pastors! When I consider this story in light of the way churches that were once solid, biblically-sound bastions of truth have gone into doctrinal and moral free fall, I can now understand what has been happening.
How has the Emergent Church completely consumed much of what we call Christianity today? Do you know any pastor who has stepped down from his position (or been forcibly removed) because of immorality? What about those dear pastors who simply become exhausted with the strain of shepherding and walk away from the ministry? A pastor from the 17th century, Gardener Spring, once wrote, “It is no marvel that the pulpit is so powerless and ministers so often disheartened when there are so few to hold up their hands. The consequence of neglecting this duty is seen and felt in the spiritual declension of the churches and it will be seen and felt in the everlasting perdition of men . . .”
God’s warning to believers is, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). This warning is more critical than we have probably ever considered.
Satan is our accuser (Rev. 12:10). He schemes to make us fall (Eph. 6:11). He sets snares to entangle us (I Tim. 3:7; II Tim. 2:26).
Until we reach our heavenly home, we are all in a fierce, spiritual battle. In that battle, our pastors and other spiritual leaders would be considered the front line against Satan and his minions. How to fight against the forces of evil? God says the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh (II Cor. 10:4). We must PRAY.
Pastor John MacArthur in his message, A Plea to Pray for Pastors, says, “We need to remember that prayer is battle; it wages war not against God but against the status quo, against sin and fallenness and the flesh and devils.” In Rom. 15:30, 31, Paul directs the Christians to “strive together with” him in prayer. In Col. 4:2 he admonishes the church to “continue earnestly in prayer.” The word “continue” says that he took for granted their prayers; the word “earnestly” means to be “courageously persistent” or “to hold fast and not let go.” This praying is hard work. But we are commanded repeatedly to do it.
So how do we pray for our pastor? Scripture provides the answer! We should pray that God will:
USE HIM to spread God’s Word and that it will be received with honor (II Thess. 3:1).
DELIVER HIM from those who oppose him and the gospel (II Thess. 3:2; Romans 15:30, 31).
GIVE HIM opportunities to share the Word and the whole gospel (Col. 4:2-4).
MAKE HIM bold and faithful to continue proclaiming the gospel no matter what the cost (Eph. 6:19, 20).
GIVE HIM godly knowledge and insight (Eph. 1:8) so that he can grasp the greatness of the hope (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:2) and the inheritance that is his in Christ (Eph. 1:17, 18).
HELP HIM to understand God’s great power that is always available to him (Eph. 1:18, 19).
GIVE HIM peace in the midst of the storms that come upon him (II Thess. 3:16; Phil. 4:6, 7).
BE GLORIFIED as he walks worthy of the calling he’s been given (II Thess. 1:12).
Also we must pray that he:
DRESSES IN the complete armor of God every day (Eph. 6:10-18); and,
BEHAVES consistently with his identity in Jesus Christ (II Thess. 1:11).
MacArthur says, “We are called upon… to pray agonizingly on behalf of spiritual leaders… tapping the power of prayer for God’s Kingdom sake and the ministry of those anointed and faithful servants who stand in the place of Jesus Christ as His agents, ambassadors, and spokesmen leading the battle against evil.”
God did promise that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the church (Matt. 16:18). Praise the Lord! But we are in a battle and the servants of the enemy are actually praying for the church’s demise and that of the men who lead it. Can we do less than obey the command of Scripture to pray for the triumph of the church and its leaders?