I mentioned early in this series that some intercessors pray about a variety of topics, much like a doctor who is a general practitioner treats a variety of health conditions. But just as some doctors hone in on a particular field of medicine, some intercessors are specialists who focus almost entirely on one prayer interest. The next few posts will be geared toward the intercessor whose specialty is praying for his or her pastor.
This has been my specialty for many years now, so it is dear to my heart. It is a much-needed ministry, filled with many joys, but also having its peculiar set of difficulties. The intercessor-to-pastor calling is not for wimps. It takes unswerving loyalty, humility, laying aside of self, and total commitment coupled with unconditional love that only Christ can give. And, it takes trust on both sides.
A basic truth of intercession is that whatever or whoever we pray for, we love. For this reason, if the pastor-intercessor is a woman praying for a man, we’ve got some special areas of danger that we have to guard against. I love my pastor very deeply, but I also love his wife. I look at them as one entity, and I pray often for their marriage to be the very best that it can be. I pray much for her needs as well as his. This has come about quite naturally as our relationship has deepened through the years, but I also recognize that it is a must-have safeguard for intercessors, so that our affections do not slip into places where they should not be. I have an extremely solid love relationship with my husband. There is no one as wonderful as my Paul! We work as a team to pray for our pastor and his wife, although I am a more intense intercessor than Paul is. I tell him about all of their needs and everything that I am currently praying through for them. I never meet one-on-one with my pastor; my husband is there with me.
If your husband is not taking his place as the spiritual head of the family or if there are other marital relationship weaknesses, praying for your pastor as your intercessory specialty is not wise. It would be far better to focus your prayers on your husband, until he becomes the dearest person on earth to you. That is an awesome prayer specialty, too!
What about the intercessor who is a single woman? By God’s mercy and grace this has worked in some instances, but I would not recommend it, for the same reasons already mentioned. Too much care must be taken to guard the heart. (Older grannies, go right ahead and pray for that young pastor. We’re not talking about you!)
Because people are imperfect, and because the devil likes to use our imperfections to destroy relationships, there are some commitments we have to make in our hearts before a crisis develops. There was a day when God began to tell me that the opportunity for offense would come between my pastor and me, and that I needed to decide in my heart beforehand that I would not allow offenses against him to take root inside, no matter what. They came, and they still come now and then. I have given opportunity for offense, too, along the way. Hurts happen in any relationship that goes deeper than a surface level. It’s not that anyone is bad; it’s about expectations, in most cases. By making a gut-level commitment beforehand that I would not accept offense, and keeping a consciousness of that commitment in my heart, I have been able to overcome difficulties.
My husband and I are also committed to keeping conversations between us and our pastor or his wife confidential. Very few things that they say to us make it to other ears, even the seemingly innocent things. If you don’t mention anything that has been said, you don’t have to remember what you dropped to others and what you didn’t. Sometimes things pastors say are more personal to them than we realize, and the careless spilling of those things to others can be very hurtful. By not talking about our conversations with them, we avoid providing the potential for gossip, misunderstanding, and jealousy in others. Our commitment to confidentiality helps build trust between us and them.
More next time.
Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual