4 Heartfelt Prayers for a Pastor Leaving

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Your pastor is leaving your church.  You have a swirl of emotions as you heard the news.

What will happen to the church?  Who will the new pastor be and when will they be here?  What are you supposed to say to the pastor, to their family?  Is there something to do?

One thing you can do in the midst of this uncertainty is to pray.  God hears our prayers, even when we may not know exactly what to pray, for “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8.26-27 NIV).

A pastor is a leader, a friend, a teacher, and a counselor.  Whether you’ve known your pastor for a short time, or for years, you’re going to miss that person.  It’s rarely easy to say goodbye to someone you care for.  It can be especially difficult when that person is your pastor.

They’ve prayed for you and with you.  Now you have the opportunity to pray for them as they depart from this church to another setting.  While we place a great deal of trust in pastors, let us remember that Jesus “is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1.18 NIV).  Ultimately, we can trust Christ regarding the church.

As a pastor who has moved from church to church, I deeply understand what it means to depart from a church and go to another one.  I can tell you that when I have had to leave, different people would offer prayers for me, my family.  Each time was so meaningful.

They took the time to bring me and my family to the throne of God.  They prayed encouragement and strength and provision over us.  The prayers were often accompanied with tears and hugs.  As they prayed, the Spirit was present with us and we were all so grateful.

I encourage you to not worry about whether you have the right words or not.  Each prayer you pray will be heard by God and used by the Spirit.  And I can just about guarantee that your pastor will appreciate your ministry to them and their family.

The four prayers below are here for you to use, for your context and specific situation.  You can use these prayers as a jumping off point as you care for your pastor and their family.  I have used a male pronoun as a matter of convenience, realizing that some churches do have female pastors–use the one that fits your church.

Take advantage of these prayers. God has guided you to this website because you have a caring heart and love your pastor.  Let your love be heard, and seen, as you pray.

Prayer for Our Pastor Leaving the Church

Father God, I come to you in prayer for (name), our pastor.  He is departing from the church.  I wish he could stay beyond this next couple of months but I understand he needs to go to the next step in his spiritual journey.

I pray for provision for his family and protection for them all as they enter a new place, with new people.  We all thank you Lord, for how you’ve used (name) here and what he means to us.  We will miss him so much!

I pray for his spouse and ask you guide her to a new job in their new location.  I pray for good memories in their hearts as they leave from here.  I know you are preparing a place for them where they are going.  Let us all remember the best of what happened through his ministry here.  I ask these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.

A Prayer for Church as Pastor Leaves

Jesus, I pray for our church.  Our pastor is leaving the church and I’m worried about what will happen when he leaves.  We won’t have a leader, a shepherd, for at least a couple of months.   I worry our congregation will decrease or fragment in his absence.

Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes upon you, and our hearts centered on you by your Spirit.  While we may be weak in our feelings right now, I pray for us to be strong in you and your great faithfulness.

Our pastor has been here long enough for our congregation to really mesh with him and grow to love him and his family.  I know my trust should be in you, O Lord, but right now, in this moment, I’m having difficulty with what is happening.  I lift my worries to you, Lord, and and hope you work through our church to make us stronger.

Continue your mighty work through this church and the people of this church, Lord, as we trust you during this emotion-heavy transition.  I make this prayer in the comforting name and presence of Christ our Lord, Amen.

A Prayer for What to Say to Departing Pastor

Dear God our pastor is leaving and I don’t know what to say.  He’s been a teacher and friend to me.  I appreciate how transparent and authentic he has been with me, and with our church.

By your Spirit, speak through me as I pray for my pastor.  Give me the words to say.  I know I don’t have to be fancy or use big words; I just want my prayer to matter.  He has been such a minister to me and helped me grow in Christ.

When I pray for him, I ask your Spirit to speak into his hear, bringing him strength and peace.  I believe you can take my feeble speaking and make it powerful in love, truth, grace, and mercy.

Through my prayer, I want my pastor to know he is loved and appreciated.  Help me Lord, as I pray, in Christ’s name, Amen.

A Prayer for Pastor’s Family as They Leave

Lord, our pastor is leaving and I lift a prayer for him as he moves on.  But I come to you in prayer today for our pastor’s family.  They often get the short shrift.  The expectations placed upon his wife and children can’t be easy to handle at times.

As they pack up their belongings, may pleasant memories flow over them.  Keep them injury-free as they lift heavy boxes and take apart furniture.  Help them decide what to pack and what to get rid of as they sift through everything.

I lift a prayer for the children.  They are leaving a school where they made so many friends.  Now they have to go to a new place and start over with friendships and clubs and activities.  They won’t know anyone Lord, and it’s tough to be the “new person” at a school.

I pray against loneliness and sadness for their children.  I ask you to provide new friendships and a smooth transition into a new school and a new neighborhood. I pray they are kept safe and affirmed in your love for them, O God.

As they move to a new place, guide them as they set up a new home and encounter new neighbors.  I pray for favor in their new setting, that they be welcomed with love and graciousness.  In the place of regret or sadness, fill them with the joy of new ministry and new friendships.

When they depart on moving day, guide them safely to their new home. I pray freedom from accidents or mishaps along the way.  I ask you, Great God, for provision for all of their needs, just as you have promised throughout scripture.  I lift this wonderful family to you Lord, in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Concluding Thoughts

As your pastor departs, you will miss your pastor and that’s okay- we know that with God we will see a better tomorrow even if today is hard.  If you have loved deeply, you will miss a person deeply.  It’s okay to be a little sad regarding their leaving.  However, you can also be joyful that God is taking him to a new place and a new group of people who will be blessed through him, just like you were here.

In any season of change or transition, questions arise and so can worry and anxiety.  Please take a moment to talk with your pastor and hear from them on why they are departing.  And you could take time to pray for them too.

Know that whatever questions you have may not have immediate answers, but take comfort in the truth, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23.1 NIV).  You can trust in an unchanging God, even in the midst of changing circumstances. Just as your pastor has ministered to you, now you can minister to him through prayer.

Allow yourself to be guided by Our Shepherd and Guide.  Let the prayers above not only ease your concerns, but be a blessing to your pastor and their family.  You can pray these prayers each day before your pastor departs.  I invite you to share your own prayer requests in the comments section below.

Let the power of prayer bring you peace!

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