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How to Pray Like a Pastor

How to Pray Like a Pastor

Of all that is unique about the Christian faith, this aspect stands apart: Its leaders are not called to their positions because of rare skill, raw talent, or overwhelming desire. They are not qualified by the charismatic personality, the ability to draw a crowd, or skilled rhetoric. Rather, Christian leaders are called and qualified by godly character. In passages like 1 Timothy 3:2-7, Titus 1:6-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-3 we read what a man must be if he is to serve as pastor (or elder, if you prefer).

But D.A. Carson has rightly pointed out that the list of qualifications for elders is “remarkable for being unremarkable.” Why? Because “the criteria mentioned are demanded of all Christians everywhere. Which is another way of saying, elders are first of all to be exemplars of the Christian graces that are presupposed as mandated on all Christians.” Every church is meant to be full of men and women who display these traits. And if every Christian is meant to display them, every Christian should pray for them. This little guide lists each of those qualifications and suggests a few prayers related to each one. Personally, I pray for one of these traits each day, using the bullet points as a guide. Perhaps you will find it helpful to do something similar.

(Note: I have a booklet on this topic meant for individual or group study.)

Above Reproach

I pray…

  • … that I would have an unquestionable character
  • … that I would maintain a credible reputation and be an example worthy of following
  • … that my life would be so consistent that there are no opportunities for blame or disgrace to be attached to it
  • … that I would be free from any blight of character or conduct so my life will remain irreproachable in the eyes of others.
  • … that through the power of the Holy Spirit I would identify, battle, and kill sin wherever it exists in my life

A One-Woman Man (or a One-Man Woman)

I pray…

  • … that I would be a one-woman kind of man (or one-man kind of woman), exemplary in love and faithfulness to my wife (or husband)
  • … that I would not have wandering eyes or a fantasizing mind
  • … that I would regard older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, in all purity (or older men as fathers and younger men as brothers, in all purity)
  • … that I would be appropriately discreet in my relationships with members of the opposite sex and that I would never be flirtatious, promiscuous, or involved in any questionable relationship
  • … that I would be devoted to my wife, nurturing and cherishing her as Christ does the church (or devoted to my husband, joyfully submitting to his leadership as the church does to Christ)


I pray…

  • … that I would be well-balanced, moderate, and free from excesses in my ideas and convictions
  • … that I would be watchful and observant of what goes on around me
  • … that I would not be the kind of person who misses what is crucial while focusing on what is of little importance


I pray…

  • … that I would be a sound, reasonable thinker
  • … that the pride remaining in me would be tempered by a sobering awareness of remaining sin and personal frailty
  • … that I would demonstrate a thoughtful restraint and modesty in all areas of my life


I pray…

  • … that my life would be disciplined and orderly rather than slipshod, scattered, or disorganized
  • … that I would be responsible, completing all my tasks and finishing what I begin
  • … that I would be wise and level-headed in all my dealings
  • … that I would practice prudence, recognizing and applying biblical principles when making decisions
  • … that I would display a sanctified common sense
  • … that there would be an appropriate kind of dignity about me


I pray…

  • … that I would be warm, friendly, and welcoming
  • … that I would open my home to friends and strangers alike
  • … that I would sacrificially offer help to those in need
  • … that I would show a willingness to share with others whatever God has given me


I pray…

  • … that I would develop and maintain biblical convictions around alcohol and any other substance for which there is even the least possibility of abuse or addiction
  • … that I would never violate my conscience, pass judgment on others, or flaunt my freedom
  • … that I would be moderate and self-controlled in my consumption of alcohol or any other substances that may threaten addiction
  • … that I would be able to enjoy God’s good gifts without becoming enslaved to them

Faithful Father (or Faithful Mother)

I pray…

  • … that I would be the head of my household (or joyfully submit to my husband as head of my household)
  • … that I would spend sufficient time with my children and raise them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord
  • … that I would not allow my children to be insubordinate or wild
  • … that I would exercise a humble, loving leadership over my children and not be a tyrant who gains submission by force, manipulation, or oppression
  • … that my children would display respect for me in public and private


I pray…

  • … that I would be equitable in my decisions and counsel
  • … that I would be fair in all my dealings
  • … that I would treat all people equally
  • … that I would not overlook those who are unlike me or who are easily missed

Eager to See the Good

I pray…

  • … that I would take delight in whatever delights God
  • … that I would willingly avoid whatever has an evil influence over me or those I care for
  • … that I would not be known only for the evils I am against but also for the good I am for


I pray…

  • … that I would not be pugnacious, combative, or prone to lash out at others
  • … that I would be approachable even to people who disagree with me or who wish to confront me
  • … that I would be kind and patient in dealing with others
  • … that I would be sensitive to the feelings of others so my words and actions reflect tenderness and promote healing


I pray…

  • … that I would not be contentious or eager for a fight
  • … that I would always seek to make peace with others
  • … that I would be quick to apologize to those I’ve offended and quick to overlook offenses committed against me
  • … that I would eagerly and joyfully cooperate with others rather than being quarrelsome or competitive
  • … that I would not be easily drawn into arguments or into playing devil’s advocate

Not a Lover of Money

I pray…

  • …that I would not make material possessions the ambition of my life
  • … that I would refuse to pursue financial gain above eternal things, preferring to store up treasure in heaven than on earth
  • … that I would not sacrifice my family or my spiritual health on the “altar” of my job
  • … that I would not be greedy or covetous, but instead be generous and quick to give to those in need
  • … that I would give a generous portion of my income to the church and rejoice when doing so


I pray…

  • … that I would be flexible in dealing with people and with ideas not clearly revealed in Scripture
  • … that I would not be stubborn and insistent on getting my own way in matters of wisdom or personal preference
  • … that I would not be so wrapped up in my own ideas that I become insensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others
  • … that I would not be so headstrong that I run over other people or fail to hear their wisdom and opinions
  • … that I would put others first so that I do not think of myself more highly than I ought to think.

Respected by Outsiders

I pray…

  • … that I would be known by people outside the church and that they would respect me for my godly conduct and consistency of life
  • … that I would have good reputation with neighbors, relatives, and colleagues
  • … that I would be submissive to authority in the church, at work, and in government
  • … that my name would be without blemish in my community
  • … that I would be a model of good works at home, at work, and in my neighborhood so that by doing good to others God will be glorified

Holy Life

I pray…

  • … that the Scriptures would be my standard for living
  • … that I would have an obvious desire to be like Jesus Christ
  • … that I would constantly and obviously battle against sin and seek to please God

Practices Godly Self-Restraint

I pray…

  • … that I would have control over my passions and emotions
  • … that I would run my life in accordance with the New Testament’s ethical commands

There are only a few qualifications that are unique to elders and not directly required of other believers. I am listing them here with some suggested prayers.

Not a Rookie

I pray…

  • … that I would resist temptation and endure tests to prove my faith is genuine
  • … that I would show continual growth in my character and conduct
  • … that I would grow in my knowledge of the Scriptures and their application to my life
  • … that I would not allow any kind of prominence or position to incite pride within me
  • … that I would carefully seek out blind spots in my life to ensure I am not overlooking any area of remaining sin

Able to Teach

I pray…

  • … that I would constantly apply myself to the discipline of studying the Bible, so I would be a student before I am a teacher
  • … that I would grow in my ability to take my knowledge of the Scriptures and apply it to the church for their edification and growth
  • … that others would profit by listening to my teaching
  • … that I would grow in my ability to hold people’s attention and apply God’s truth in an interesting and engaging manner

Desirous of Ministry

I pray…

  • … that I would maintain my desire to serve the Lord as one of his under-shepherds
  • … that I would delight to carry out the ministry God has called me to

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