I am convinced that prayer is the most difficult spiritual discipline to develop—even for church leaders. Prayer assumes that we live in dependence on God, and I fear many of us are less dependent than we might admit. Prayer is our recourse for a problem more than an expression of a relationship with God.
It really does matter, though, that church leaders are praying leaders. In my Church Answers/Tyndale book, The Potential and Power of Prayer, I list reasons why it matters. Here are my thoughts:¹
1. Praying leaders are best at casting a vision for prayer. We will be much more effective at casting a vision for prayer if we ourselves are praying with passion and persistence. Those we guide will be much more likely to follow our lead if they see not only our vision, but also our zeal for God and our desire to talk with Him. They will want what we have.
2. Leaders who pray can—and will—call others to pray with integrity. Leaders who pray well will not hesitate to call others to prayer. Because they practice what they preach, no one can accuse them of hypocrisy. They look forward to teaching texts that deal with prayer. They love telling stories of answered prayer in their lives. They also delight when church members ask them to pray because the members know they really do pray.
3. Leaders who pray often model and teach prayer by their own heartfelt, humble public prayers. Those who pray consistently in private will find public prayer that much easier. They love to talk to God, and the setting almost doesn’t matter. When they pray aloud, people listen. A sense of holiness and intimacy hangs in the air. Like eavesdroppers on a cherished spiritual moment between God and one of his children, we listen and learn.
4. Praying leaders show the work of God in their lives as He conforms them to His image. Jesus prayed in such a way that others wanted Him to teach them how to pray. He taught His disciples about prayer, and He took them away from the crowds to pray. Our role model for leading others, Jesus led from His knees—and we imitate Him when we do the same as God conforms us to His image. Our commitment to prayer is evidence that we are growing in the right direction under God’s grace.
If you’re a church leader who wants to pray more, our Church Answers team hopes this resource will be helpful to you.