Yesterday was a fantastic day, capped by our evening worship gathering, which I’ll write about tomorrow. The best part of the day for me happened twice, at the end of both of our services.

If you weren’t aware, October is Pastor Appreciation month. Many churchgoers might night know about this month-long opportunity to lavish praise and gratitude on their ministers, but most of us men and women of the cloth do.

Very often we receive greeting cards of thanks and gift cards to area restaurants. Sometimes it may simply be a check, which for our family has on more than one occasion been a timely resource for an urgent need.

I remember a few years ago a member in the church, a friend of the senior pastor’s, would take the staff pastors to lunch at a nice restaurant. The gift of his company always surpassed the filet mignon.

Probably the strangest card I’ve ever received came from someone I didn’t know. Indeed, after reading the note, I was going to look the person up in a picture directory but decided I didn’t want to know her face. She’d expressed thanks, yes, but then made me aware of several complaints, including how the ministry team spent its budget. That was a rarity, to be sure.

My favorite gift by far is one all pastors covet throughout the year: prayer.

That’s what we received yesterday. At the end of the service, many in the church gathered around us leaders and our wives, laid their hands on us, and prayed, expressing gratitude and petitioning God to lead us and protect us.

[pullquote]If not for their prayers, I wouldn’t be the man I am today, not the husband, father, or pastor.[/pullquote]Church, show your thanks to us pastors by praying for us. We sincerely desire to lead you, to teach you, to celebrate your spiritual growth. But we need the protection that comes through prayer.

I remember early on in worship ministry — I wasn’t even on staff at my church but had sort of taken the lead of the worship band — when I went through a very difficult trial, if not the hardest in my life, then certainly the most crucial at that stage in my spiritual growth. I am convinced I was able to make it through because of incessant pleadings of God’s people on my behalf. If not for their prayers, I wouldn’t be the man I am today, not the husband, father, or pastor.

I should probably mention something about it since today is Halloween, a “holiday” we don’t observe in my family. So here’s the thing. What is really, truly, crazy scary is leading in ministry without the covering of prayer. Yes, I know that was a weak attempt to conform today’s post to a day on the calendar.

I exhort you to pray. The gift cards are nice, but we need prayer more than a meal out.

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