Prayer is always personal first, it starts with a person, then catches fire to others.
I’ve been praying for a long time, many decades in fact, and yet at times I find myself feeling like I’m still in the kindergarten of prayer. From unanswered prayers to discerning God’s voice, there is so much more to learn.
One of my most substantive lessons on prayer was that for too long I made it too complicated.
By complicated I don’t mean to infer that prayer is difficult; although it does require effort because our nature resists stillness and there is an enemy who wants to prevent prayer. I mean it’s not necessary to cover all the disciplines, practices, and facets of prayer and devotion every day.
Prayer is not a ritual we have to get right, it’s a relationship for us to enjoy. Prayer is not a ritual we have to get right, it’s a relationship for us to enjoy. Click & Tweet!
Complicating prayer makes consistency in prayer more challenging than it needs to be.
The role of prayer is to connect with God at a genuine heart level, hear His voice, and respond in a way that changes our lives and hopefully, changes the lives of others too.
The practice of prayer isn’t merely for the sake of a spiritual discipline, a routine of spiritual maturity, or even being a good leader, it’s to know God and live for, in and through Him.
I’ve commented before about my little prayer room in our basement. I love that space. I could and sometimes do remain there for long periods of time. Other times its shorter, but always I find it to be holy ground, like a quiet little sanctuary. A place where I can just sit quietly and talk with God. There is no need to perform or check all the boxes, but only to be in communion with the Father.
Prayer is an opportunity to be grateful and to offer thanksgiving. It’s an opportunity to worship, confess sin, listen and learn, but mostly to just be with God.
I mention my prayer room because I’ve found that a space, any space, where you feel comfortable helps develop consistency in prayer.
One of my friends sits out on his back deck. Another has a favorite chair in a home office. Where is your special place? Of course, we can find God anywhere, in our kitchen, an airport or in a busy day at the office. But if you are blessed with a special space, you know what I mean.
The key to prayer is the disposition of our hearts.
- Are we looking for God?
- Are we eager to worship?
- Are we listening for the prompts of His Spirit?
- Do we obey?
- And when we fail, what is our response?
As prayer changes our heart and our behavior, then we as leaders change and have greater opportunity to lead others to change. That is where moments in prayer can become a movement in prayer.
The results of a prayer movement are spiritually exponential, from salvations to spiritual maturity, the ministry of the church is strengthened to the extent that the results are greater than our efforts.
But it’s always personal first.
Just before we jump into the five practices, I’d like to introduce you to a friend and colleague at 12Stone Church who has been an inspiration and example to me in prayer for a long time.
Chris Morgan is making some time available to speak at churches and coach staff leaders in the personal and strategic nature of prayer, in order to realize the power of God released in your church in greater ways.
I highly recommend that you check out Chris’s website, click here.
5 practices toward creating prayer movements
1) Start with you.
It’s important that we as leaders practice prayer before we “preach” it. I’m not suggesting that we can “arrive” or have all the answers, but that we experience prayer in such a way so that when we talk about it, it’s from the heart.
When we pray, (and talk about prayer,) from a heart level, that’s where the passion is, and that’s how it ignites in the hearts of others.
Prayer begins to gain traction that might become a movement when its part of a lifestyle not a program.
What are some of the ways you can lead and encourage the people of your church embrace prayer as a deeply rooted part of their lives?When we pray, (and talk about prayer,) from a heart level, that’s where the passion is, and that’s how it ignites in the hearts of others. Click & Tweet!
2) Enlist your personal prayer partners.
There is something very unique that happens in both the spiritual and natural realms with your own prayer partners. There is a spiritual bond that takes place that is difficult to describe, but it’s a blessing beyond measure.
Knowing there are a few warriors intentionally praying for you and your leadership encourages and strengthens you at a soul level.
You can have one prayer partner or several, but I highly encourage you to lean into this. Personally, I’d never do ministry without a prayer team.
If you’d like more on developing your own prayer team, here’s an article that will be helpful to you. You can read it here. There is something very unique that happens in both the spiritual and natural realms with your own prayer partners. There is a spiritual bond that takes place that is difficult to describe, but it’s a blessing beyond measure. Click & Tweet!
3) Teach on the value of prayer as a lifestyle.
Allow me to offer you a resource that will serve you well in your prayer life and teaching others as well. It’s a devotional, Leadership Alone Isn’t Enough, I wrote specifically to leaders. Available here.
Teaching on prayer is the art of invitation more than persuasion. If we invite someone to pray it’s easier to see the relationship. When we persuade because we are supposed to pray, we can inadvertently lead toward duty or performance.
Whenever you teach on prayer give them a moment to practice prayer. Even if it’s just a minute or two. Pause, be quiet, let the group or congregation practice right then.
The truth is that it’s hard to pray wrong. Yet one of the most common fears is not doing it right. You can help change that. When you teach, focus on why we pray and explain prayer as a lifestyle – relationship over getting it right.
Teach with the long view in mind, emphasize consistency every week over the number of minutes each day.
Encourage simple steps, for example, my favorite is this:
Whatever the number of days a week you consistently pray, add only one more, and do that until it’s a consistent practice for three to six months or longer. Then add one more day and repeat the process until consistent for three to six months. Keep going. It’s not a race or a competition, it’s a relationship. Teaching on prayer is the art of invitation more than persuasion. If we invite someone to pray it’s easier to see the relationship. When we persuade because we are supposed to pray, we can inadvertently lead toward duty or performance. Click & Tweet!
4) Create environments where prayer is practiced.
Our personal prayer lives have full connection to God and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, but there is something about praying in concert with others that multiplies that presence and power.
The best way to begin is with worship and thanksgiving. It doesn’t need to be long or produced, but it always invites the presence of God.
There are at least two ways that we can pray in concert together, one is publicly in groups, and another is engaging with a personal prayer team.
There is something that touches heaven and moves the heart of the Father when we align together in prayer, in agreement with God’s will.
Praying with others elevates our faith, increases unity in the body of Christ, and we are more likely to be encouraged by hearing answers to our prayers. There is something that touches heaven and moves the heart of the Father when we align together in prayer, in agreement with God’s will. Click & Tweet!
5) Tell stories of God answering prayer.
Few things help spread the passion of prayer more than hearing stories of answered prayer. What’s your story?
It doesn’t need to be grand or miraculous, in fact, it often helps if it isn’t.
Sometimes the most powerful stories are about the everyday situations that received answers to a very specific prayer. The more specific the better, because it helps remove the temptation to think, “Well maybe that was a coincidence,” and instead declares “Only God!”
That’s a great two-word definition of prayer… Only God.