When I first started pastoring a church 38 years ago, I wish I’d known more about the necessity and power of prayer. I’m still learning, and I make no claims to meet this standard—but I’m convinced we need to lead from our knees. That is to say, genuine prayer must be in our DNA. Here’s why:
- It requires that we seek God first, then lead. If we lead first and then ask God to bless what we’ve done (which is what many of us do, I fear), we have the process backwards. DNA prayer keeps the order right.
- It’s an admission of our love for God and a confession of our dependence on Him. Genuine, DNA prayer says, “God, I love You and I need You.” Many leaders I know—if not most—wrestle with depending on anything or anyone other than themselves.
- It forces us to slow down. For many of us who are continually busy, I suspect God would have to “catch” us first if He wished to use us. DNA prayer, on the other hand, naturally slows us down and turns us toward Him.
- It undercuts our arrogance. It’s really, really hard to remain arrogant if you’re really, really meeting with God every day. His majesty overwhelms us, His accessibility amazes us, and His willingness to hear us humbles us.
- It pushes against our tendency to be competitive. I confess my own competitive nature that sometimes leads me to unfortunate comparisons with other leaders. When intercessory prayer characterizes us, however, we see others not as competitive threats but as gospel partners who welcome our prayer support.
- It leads us to ongoing thanksgiving. That’s because DNA prayer covers everything we do, and we soon realize that we could not take even one more step apart from His grace and mercy.
- It gives us hope even when ministry is difficult. We can approach God morning, noon, and night . . . and anytime in-between. As long as I can look up to God and cry out to Him, I will always have hope no matter what I face.
Is prayer in your DNA? Perhaps these simple evaluative questions will tell you something about yourself and your prayer life:
- Is your prayer more proactive or reactive? If you pray only when you most need God, that’s not DNA prayer.
- Is prayer only a required ritual for you, or is it a natural expression of a real relationship with God? DNA prayer is not forced; it just comes out of us.
- Would others who know you best say that prayer is in your DNA? Even those who pray most often in their “closet” live differently than those who pray very little—and those who know us best recognize something powerful in us when prayer is in our DNA.
As you lead this week, are you leading standing up or from your knees?