While preparing a sermon on intercession in prayer, I came across the following quote from the book On Being a Pastor by Alistair Begg and Derek Prime on the importance of pastors praying for their congregation.
The principle part of our pastoral care is unseen by those who benefit from it, since ti is exercised in secret. Called to be shepherds as well as teachers, we must be intercessors for the members of Christ’s flock entrusted to us. Prayer is one way in which we keep watch over the spiritual well-being o the lambs and sheep of the flock. If no one else prays for them, we must. It is significant that the ministry of intercession is the one ministry that our Lord continues in heaven now on our behalf. We are never nearer to His heart than when we bear up in our payers the concerns and well-being of His flock.
“All the saints” (Ephesians 6:18) are to be prayed for, since all Christians in this world are in the battle, without exception. Some require daily prayer because of crisis, and all have a call upon our regular prayers because of the needs all constantly have. We must not pray for people only when they are ill! Spurgeon made this point in a somewhat amusing way when talking to pastors: “When a man is upstairs in bed, and cannot do any hurt, you pray for him. When he is downstairs, and can do no end of mischief, you do not pray for him. Is this wise and prudent?”
I concur. One of the greatest ministries a pastor can perform for his congregation may never been seen by his congregation.