TODAY   |  April 07, 2013

Call for prayers after Rick Warren’s son commits suicide

One of the most popular pastors in America, Pastor Rick Warren, is grieving with his family after his son took his own life on Friday. Warren’s brother-in-law called for prayers for the family, and said Warren and his wife are facing the news together. NBC’s Diana Alvear reports.

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>>> one of america's most inflew e influential religious leaders is grieving this morning. diane has more for us. diana, good morning.

>> reporter: lester, good morning. sunday's services are set to start here at saddle back church in just a few hours, and there's certain to be very sad ones. many here yesterday tell us they feel like the church is more of a family. last night, that family came together in the show of support. saddleback church was packed with parishioners saturday night, but rick warren was not in the pulpit. instead, his brother-in-law called for prayers for the people's pastor and his wife.

>> their son matthew died earlier this week, and they are facing that together, walking through that together.

>> reporter: 27-year-old matthew warren shot himself friday. in a letter to saddleback member, rick and his wife kay wrote about their son. he was an incredibly kind, gentle, compassionate man, but only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness . dark holes of depression and even suicidal thoughts. in spite of america's best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided.

>> pastor warren is using this opportunity to recognize, hey, we can do the best we can do and still fail.

>> reporter: it's a trademark quality of warren's, delivering down-to-earth ministry. his "the new york times" bestseller, "the purpose-driven life," sold 30 million copies, turning the pastor into a household name. in 2009 , president obama chose him to deliver the inaugural invocation.

>> let us pray .

>> reporter: warren's often been called upon to help heal the nation in times of tragedy. now in the face of his own loss, friends say faith will sustain him.

>> are they going to miss him here? terribly. i mean, it's devastating for them. but do they know he's in a better place? yes, and there's comfort if that.

>> reporter: having tackled complicated topics in the past, those who know warren say they expect him to preach about depression and suicide.

>> i think we're going to see some of the best of rick warren that we've ever seen.

>> reporter: and those who know warren say they would not be surprised if the pastor and his family attended today's services. they say now more than ever, the family needs their love and support at this time of the loss.

>> diana, thank you.