As I write this, I’m in Nashville enjoying a short break before attending T4G, a “biennial conference for thousands of pastors and church leaders who, for all their differences, are committed to standing together for the main thing—the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The last time I attended was a decade ago, and I gave it a mixed review. I loved a lot of it, and I also wished for more. I may have been too harsh.

I love the impulse behind this conference. Many of the people I count as friends will be attending this conference, as are many people I appreciate. I don’t generally love conferences, but I’m excited for this one, and I’m coming with an expectant spirit.

I’ve been praying for the gathering. Here are some of my prayers as we prepare to gather for the conference this year.

A Prayer for All Attendees

I’m praying that the 12,000 people who attend encounter Jesus. I’m praying that we won’t just talk theology, but that we will be swept away in worship. I pray that hearts will be softened by the time we reach the second verse of the first song we sing.

I often attend a conference hungry and thirsty. I need the gospel. I need to meet the living, Triune God. I pray that those who long are hungry and thirsty will be well provisioned this week and find something that none of the speakers can provide on their own — a taste of what only God can give us. I’m coming needing to worship God and celebrate the gospel. I pray that we will be moved to love God more as we worship him, open the Word, and encourage each other.

A Prayer for Wobbly Pastors

I have a soft spot for wobbly pastors, because I’ve been one. I know what it’s like to get caught up in ministry fads and to go looking for ideas and approaches that offer hope.

I pray that wobbly pastors this week will be captivated not by new ideas or approaches but by old ones. I pray that many will come to this conference and realize that they don’t need a new approach or idea, but to recenter around Jesus and the basics. I pray we learn nothing new at this conference, but that we’re reminded of what we may have forgotten or assumed.

A Prayer for Pastors of Small Churches

Conferences can be dangerous for pastors of small churches. We can come home comparing ourselves to those whose platforms and ministries are bigger than ours. We can hear messages that reenforce the idea that bigger is better.

I pray that pastors of small churches will be encouraged, not discouraged, at T4G. I’m counting on it. I pray that pastors will go home thankful for the charge that God has given us, regardless of the size, and freshly committed to discharge our duties faithfully. We have the same gospel; size is not the measure of our ministries. I pray this conference will elevate Jesus rather than big names and big ministries.

My Prayer for Pastors Who Are Hurting

Some pastors will arrive hurt and ready to quit. I’m especially praying for these pastors this week.

I hope they will realize they’re not alone. I hope they’ll hear a word that encourages them. I pray that they will sing a song that will restore their hope. I pray that they will encounter someone in line for lunch who cares and who’s been there.

Please join me in praying for the ministry of T4G this week. I’m praying for God to do powerful things for his glory and our good.