Praying For Your Pastor, Eddie Byun (foreword by Chip Ingram). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016.
Summary: A practical guide both advocating for the importance of prayer for our pastors and offering a practical rubric in the form of the acronym PRAYERS.
“I often tell my congregation, “Your prayer support is my life support.” Someone who has been rescued from drowning or is recovering from a serious injury like a gunshot wound may need to be put on life support for a period of time. The injured person doesn’t have the strength to keep going by himself, so he needs the help of something outside of himself in order to allow his body to rest and to be strengthened to health again. In many ways, the pastor is under a wide range of attacks from the enemy. The attacks may come in various forms, such as gossip, criticism, slander, sickness, or even threats. There are days when your pastor feels emotionally burned out, physically exhausted, and spiritually weak. She feels she just can’t go on. These experiences are far too common and come far too frequently. These are the times when pastors need the life support of our prayers to keep them going. You may not know the struggles your pastors face today, but you can know that your prayers will make a difference in their lives” (pp. 22-23).
So writes pastor Eddie Byun in what is both an impassioned plea and practical guide to pray for our pastors. Throughout this book Byun uses both statistics and personal stories to describe the challenges pastors face that leads to so many dropping out of the ministry. He believes that one of the most important things churches can do is to mobilize teams of people to pray for their pastors.
Byun goes on to provide a simple rubric around the acronym PRAYERS to guide those praying for pastors. Each chapter in the book is organized around one letter in the acronym:
- Protection: Against temptation, evil, and the enemy and praying through the armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-17).
- Rest: For physical, emotional, and spiritual rest, for unhurried times with the Lord, against burnout and for times of refreshing.
- Anointing: For growing intimacy with the Lord, greater consecration, and for power to be released in your pastor’s life and ministry.
- Yielded heart: Daily transformation by the gospel, obedience out of love and gratitude for the cross, trust and obedience, growth in treasuring Christ.
- Effectiveness: Wisdom, increased fruitfulness in life and ministry, in people being saved and discipled, and faithfulness to the end.
- Righteousness and integrity: A strong foundation in one’s life, that all that one does is motivated out of love and honor for Christ.
- Strong marriages and families: protection of marriage and family, support in the church to encourage pastor in marriage and family life, and strong discipleship of children with parents who live their faith.
Each chapter fleshes out these themes, provides discussion questions, prayer points, and action plans one may take to form and guide a prayer team. Reading this book challenged me with regard to how much (or little) I pray for my pastor and reminded me of the challenging character of his work as well as how thankful I am for him, and other pastors I’ve known who faithfully shepherd God’s flock.
It also reminded me again how important it is for all of us in ministry to have prayer teams. I am blessed with ten people who have committed to pray for me daily and I truly believe they have been instrumental in God’s work through the ministry in which I engage. Byun, in his concluding chapter quotes Deuteronomy 4:7 which says, “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” He observes that while God is always present, there is a special way he is present to people when we pray for them. I know I need this, and I know those who pastor our churches need this. Byun’s book makes this case and shows us how we may get started.