7 Prayers My Pastoral Hero Prays Every Day

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Tom Elliff is the most prayerful man I know, and he’s one of my pastoral heroes. He’s served as a pastor, missionary, denominational leader, and president of the International Mission Board. Because he is such a praying man, I’ve asked him to share the prayers he prays for himself every day. I hope they will challenge you as he speaks to us:

  1. For a looming sense of the presence of God in my life throughout the day. As a believer, I know Christ is in me, with me, and desires to live His life through me. I want to live with a constant and humbling awareness of that truth. King Asa’s downfall was attended with his rejection of the simple reality that the Lord is searching to prove Himself strong on behalf of “…those whose heart is blameless toward [God]” (2 Chron. 16:9). Solomon’s sad ending was apparently attended by his forgetfulness that “…a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths” (Prov. 5:21).
  2. For a pure heart. Deliberate retention of unconfessed sin immediately blocks the path to intimacy with God. “Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” (Ps. 24:3-4). I am to be a “quick confessor.”
  3. For the fullness of the Spirit. Living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit is not only possible; it’s commanded (Eph. 5:18). This is truly the only way others will see Christ in me!
  4. For the gifts and graces of the Spirit. As we live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, He both gifts us for service (1 Cor. 12) and graces our lives with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Both are necessary if I am to be a faithful reflection of Christ.
  5. That I would do nothing that would give the Adversary an opportunity to mock my Lord. Satan is the “accuser,” constantly seeking to discredit us in the eyes of God and thus discredit God who calls us His own (Job 2:1-6, Zech. 3:1-2, Rev. 12:10). I do not want to do, say, or even think anything that would lend support to Satan’s accusations.
  6. For my immediate family serving God around the world. In a sense, my family is a “trust” from God, and thus a stewardship for which I must give an account. If Samuel saw the necessity of prayer and instruction for a nation (I Sam. 12:23), I certainly should provide the same for my earthly family.
  7. That the Lord would keep me true to the vision. Some years ago, I adopted IMB’s vision as my own: “A multitude from every language, tribe and nation knowing and worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ.” An additional, personal purpose statement for me is to be a “living illustration of the faithfulness of God to any person who will take Him at His Word.” These are the two “visions” that serve as both a reference and a motivation for life.

In what ways might you use Tom’s prayers to help you pray?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published at

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MDiv Preaching and Pastoral Ministry

The Preaching and Pastoral Ministry track prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with a special emphasis on expository preaching.

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Chuck Lawless

Director of the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership

Dr. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Doctoral Studies, and Vice-President for Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary, in addition to serving as Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board. He previously served as a Vice-President for Global Theological Advance for the IMB. Prior to that, he was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, where he also served as Vice President for Academic Programming and the Director of Professional Doctoral Studies. He received a B.S. degree from Cumberland College and M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. He is the author of eight works, including “Membership Matters,” and “Spiritual Warfare,” and has contributed numerous articles to denominational periodicals. He and his wife Pam have been married for over 25 years and reside here in Wake Forest, NC.

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