The Privilege and Power of a Praying Pastor’s Wife


On any given Saturday, you can be sure at least two things are going on at our house: my husband will be working on his sermon, and I will be praying for him. It sounds rather straightforward, but it hasn’t happened without a lot of—shall we say—practice.

When Brad first began the arduous and daunting task of preaching, we had a lot to learn together as a team in ministry—and we weren’t a very well-oiled machine. There were creaks and moans, often quite literally, as we went about juggling ministry life and what became coined as “sermon-prep.” Instead of being a helpmate suitable to him, I found I was acting more like a dead-weight distracting him.

There certainly are sacrifices for a ministry wife, but there are also tremendous blessings. Learning how to pray for my husband and the ministry we were giving our lives to took time; God first had to wean my heart from my own personal desires and beckoned me instead to come to him. I had to learn to pray, “In the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:3). My heavenly Father was inviting me to bring my requests and desires and wait with expectant faith for him to answer me according to his good plan and purpose.


Don’t buy the lie that prayer doesn’t do much. You might think you believe prayer is important, but are you praying regularly, specifically, and expectantly?

Sadly, our answer is often, “Not enough.” Prayer is hard work and the deceiver will do anything to keep us from it. Sure, we can recite James 5:17, spouting the promise that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective, but then we rarely do the hard work of actually praying.

Elisabeth Elliot said it well,

Prayer isn’t a sport. It’s work. Prayer is work because a Christian simply can’t “make a living” without it. The apostle Paul said we “wrestle” in prayer. In the wrestling of a Christian in prayer, “our fight is not against any physical enemy; it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen powers that control this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.” (Ephesians 6:12)

The work is hard because so much of it is unseen. There are joy-robbers all about us. The deceiver will attempt to make as much noise as he can to distract us from our calling to be that helpmate to our pastor-husbands. And if he can take us down, sadly, then our husband and the ministry soon often follow. Sadly, I’ve seen this happen to some dear friends in ministry. By not prioritizing time with the Lord, they drifted away from other church members and became disillusioned by all the struggles and hardships of ministry life. Sisters, pray for God to protect you and your husband as you labor for Him.

As pastors’ wives, there are many things we know, hear, see, and feel about the kingdom work our husbands are giving themselves to with all their heart and soul. In the midst of all this, we must not give in to fear or worry. We shouldn’t take charge and force our immediate fix-it plan for the church. But we also shouldn’t sit back in blissful ignorance of the many needs of our husband and our churches.

Sisters, we should be praying—and because prayer takes hard work, we need to make it a priority. As the Puritan saying goes, you need to learn how to “pray until you pray.” Labor in prayer for your husband as he labors for the sheep entrusted to him. As a helpmate suitable to him, you’re able to encourage him in a very practical way by praying regularly, specifically, and expectantly both for him and often with him.


“She does him good and not harm all her days.” Proverbs 31:12

Just think about it for a minute. Who else knows your husband like you do? Any number of people in your church may be praying for him. He may have accountability partners and prayer partners and perhaps elders who pray with and for him. But no one can pray with the specificity and tenderness of a spouse.

After all, you know if sleep has evaded him for days due to chronic pain or sick children. You know the doubts that may be plaguing his mind, whispering lies of rejection and discouragement. You know the hours often spent in solitude, poured out over God’s Word as he wrestles with a text. You can read that slumping of his shoulders when he walks in the door, feeling kicked and beaten-down by life. You know he feels inadequate for the task,yet called to keep moving forward in faith. What better good can we do for our pastor-husbands than to pray for them?

There’s much strength in the stillness of prayer. For out of that stillness, God’s power is manifested. As pastors’ wives we are often given the privilege to see God’s faithfulness work itself out in many ways. Sure, we’re privy to lots of hard things, too, but we’ve got front row seats to God’s faithfulness.

We see restored relationships, powerful sermons preached on little-to-no sleep, budgets crunched during the final hours, friends growing in their hatred of sin and love for Jesus—and on and on it goes. I often tell friends my unique perspective makes me feel like Mary, who “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” as she watched God’s plan unfold through her son Jesus. My heart sings with the ways I’ve watched God work, not only in our lives, but in the lives of the congregations we’ve been a part of over the years. It’s a hard calling, but it’s always a privileged one.

There’s something special about sitting in a pew at the end of a long week, watching the person you love most in this world preach to those entrusted to his care, giving himself to God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As wives of pastors, we have a unique privilege. So much happens from one Sunday to another, and our heavenly Father knows it all, far more than us. Yet he still calls us to come to him, to bring all our “insider knowledge” to him, all the stuff that stirs up worry or anger, gratitude or joy.

Dear sisters, is God not the one who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us (Eph. 3:20)? Then why, oh why, wouldn’t we park ourselves at his feet?

Erin Wheeler

Erin Wheeler lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with her husband Brad and their four children. She is a member of University Baptist Church, where Brad serves as Senior Pastor.

9Marks articles are made possible by readers like you. Donate Today.