Brotherhood: God’s prayer for relationships

My phone usually pings around 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. The most recent one read: “Praying for you this morning and thankful for you and your heart to hold the gospel high.” Text messages like this from area pastors greet me each week. Every time I hear my phone, I’m reminded that I’m not alone and there are other men who have paused in the midst of their busy ministry to pray for me. This is a gift of God’s grace.

Prayer is one tangible manifestation of the brotherhood the Send Network desires to create among its planters. Praying for one another demonstrates a kingdom-focused unity that reflects the heart of God in our cities. Something special happens when pastors pray for one another. It’s not that the prayers of family and friends don’t matter—they do. And, it’s certainly not that the prayers of our church members don’t matter—again, they certainly do. But, there’s something unique about pastors praying for other pastors.

We know our fears
Pastors know how to intercede for one another because they have a unique insight into the fears that effect the hearts and minds of other planters. While no two planters are alike, there are some common threads that unite us all. You can rest assured that your fellow pastor struggles with a fear of man on Sunday afternoons. He’s tempted to give himself a thumbs up or a thumbs down based on how many people showed up that morning. He’s tempted to compare himself, and his church, to the social media reports of the church across town. Therefore, we can confidently ask the Father to shatter these fears and give us all bold confidence.

We know our temptations
Sin is sin, yet there are certain sins that are all-too-common among pastors. The multifaceted pressure of pastoral ministry makes shepherds particularly vulnerable to certain attacks from the enemy. Certainly, we’ve all heard the horror stories of pastors who’ve been disqualified because of affairs, deception, theft or manipulative power plays. The unfortunate repetition of these sins means we can rest assured that we need to pray to God, so He will guard our fellow pastors from these landmines.

We know our pressures
It’s challenging to explain the pressures of pastoral ministry. All vocations are filled with their own unique challenges, and pastoral ministry is no exception. The best person to understand these pressures is a fellow pastor. He knows the challenge of finding rest in the midst of a busy church calendar. He knows the frustration that comes from working hard to study and preach an effective sermon, only to have another one staring you in the face in seven days. He knows the ongoing needs for quality time with family and uninterrupted time with a spouse. Pastors can pray that God would graciously calm the hearts and minds of fellow pastors and give them grace to stand up under the weight of these pressures.

We know our mission
Finally, pastors understand the mission that God has given to His Church. We know that, even though we might do ministry differently than another church, we are both working to make disciples that glorify God. We know the blood, sweat and tears that come when pastors labor to care, invest, counsel, evangelize, teach and train. We know what it means to long, with every fiber of our being, for someone to come to faith in Christ or renounce a lingering sin pattern. We’ve spent many nights begging God for these very things. So when we pray for one another, we can pray for the Marks, Jennifers and Joses in our fellow pastor’s church as well. They may have different names in his church, but you know that as you pray for John’s salvation in your church, a pastor down the street is praying for the salvation of someone just like him. When you pray for the restoration of a marriage on the verge of implosion, you can trust that these same types of couples are at the church across town as well. As you teach, train and equip, you can pray for your fellow pastor, who is likely working to do the very same thing at the very same time.

The Sunday morning pings call these truths to mind. They remind me that there are people who understand me and, because they truly share my problems, they do the thing that I need most—they ask God to meet my needs according to the riches of His grace. And He always does!

Published August 4, 2016