Of all that a pastor is called to do, prayer is probably the most important. Proclamation of the gospel is a must, discipling members of the congregation a have-to, participating in elder and other meetings to be expected; but none of it happens well without prayer.
Prayer for self, prayer for the people, prayer for gospel-infection in the community and prayer for Christ to be glorified. I am learning this afresh and looking to Paul as an example.
In Ephesians 3 Paul unveils the mystery of the gospel, that it is for all and not a restricted ethnic group. And while he has all created things available, God uses the church to declare his wisdom and glory to the world. Because of this, Paul wants the church to be encouraged rather than lose heart over his suffering as a beloved pastor. Then he prays and in doing so we have a great model of praying for the church.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)
A prayer for fullness, that the church would be empowered by the Spirit, rooted in love, to understand the knowledge surpassing love of Christ. That the church would be filled with the fullness of God. Fullness. The unfathomably full, huge, creative, loving God, to the brim in the broken, struggling and rag-tag church. The church he desires to use to make his glory known.
Of all you could pray for that is good and right; health, financial security, growth, warring sin; Paul prays for increasing understanding of the love of Christ and a filling of more of God.
You don’t have to be a pastor to pray for your church. We all should be. And here is a good place to start (and remain), praying for the fullness of God to fill his church.