By Katie Pearson
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:1–2
There is perhaps no discipline more critical to Christian leadership than prayer. Paul’s letters indicate that he prayed diligently and wholeheartedly for the leaders he mentored. In Ephesians 1:15–19, his last letter, he writes: “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” His requests and gratitude for the leaders in his care are never-ending. Imagine knowing that such a father of the faith was praying for you? Clearly, it emboldened and encouraged Timothy.
Who in your circle of influence do you intercede for? Sadly, for many of us, our prayer life falls far short of what we know it could be and should be. The busier we get, the less we make time for communing with God. When a crisis hits, we might cry out in prayer, but never take the time to stop and really seek God’s perspective and wisdom. It’s impossible to measure just how much we are missing.
J. Oswald Sanders says that “spiritual leaders should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer.” (Spiritual Leadership: Principals of Excellence for Every Believer) We might pay lip service to prayer, but do we truly practice it daily? If the answer is no, it might be because we don’t truly trust God with outcomes. Pause for a moment and sit with this truth. Do you prefer to have immediate answers and provide solutions for a quick fix? Or are you willing to seek godly counsel, wait on the Lord for divine insight, and act on his revealed will? Leaders under pressure often make terrible mistakes trying to please people with expediency and impress followers with a brilliant plan, rather than wait on the Lord.
Prayer is vital to a servant leader’s success on every level. What can feel like accomplishing nothing literally transforms everything. It’s an act of faith. Prayer declares that we can’t and won’t lead independently. We know that we must be dependent upon God and interdependent with others. Moses modeled faithful intercession for the people of Israel, David openly shared his deepest emotions with God, and Nehemiah sought God’s help in fulfilling his calling to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Thousands of saints and servants have made prayer their primary language and overcome enormous obstacles not just for the Lord, but with him.
What is the secret to staying the course despite endless obstacles and little worldly gain? Prayer. Scour Paul’s writings and observe his courage and composure. One of his greatest gifts to emerging leaders then and now is his unwavering commitment to prayer.
Reflection: Lord, teach me to pray. I long to be a leader intimately and absolutely connected to you in every area of my life and faith. I recommit today to knowing you above all else that I do, and being a leader who is led by your Spirit above all else. Amen. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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