Earlier this week, I posted at Thom Rainer’s Church Answers site an article called, “7 Things that Happen When Church Leaders Don’t Pray Much.” This battle is real for me, so I, too, have to work at building prayer into my life. I’ve written about some strategies for prayer in the past, but here are some more practical ways that help me these days. Maybe one of these ways will help you, too:
- I pray for our Southeastern Seminary faculty members and our International Mission Board cross-cultural workers on their birthdays. I keep the faculty names on my personal calendar, and I get a monthly IMB birthday prayer list here. You might do the same kind of praying over your extended family members and your church staff. I’ve also known some pastors and small group leaders who do the same thing on the wedding anniversaries of their church members.
- I use my morning treadmill time to pray. I realize many folks can’t multi-task well, but all of us can pray while we walk or run. If I walk for an hour, I plan to spend all that time with God. Even when I don’t know what to pray about in the moment, I just revert to praising God for His goodness – or simply to meditating on Him.
- Though I use the morning time to pray, I assume God wants to hear from me at any time, about anything. That means I have a running conversation with God throughout the day. I’m sure folks would think I’m strange if they heard me said too loudly things like, “Man, Lord, gas is really high now!” or “Thank You, God, that this 20-year-old car still runs” or “Help me do just one more rep at this weight” – but I love that kind of conversation with my Creator.
- I’m trying hard to invest in non-believers—and those relationships have beckoned me to prayer. You can’t spend much time with unbelieving folks without realizing you can’t change their lives in your own power. Only God does that, and He does that through the proclamation of His Word and the prayers of His people. In fact, I think He’s deepened my burden so I almost can’t help but fall at His feet on behalf of others.
- I join parents I love in praying for their kids every day. Pam and I don’t have children, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pray for kids. I pray for our nieces and nephews, the children of my IMB team, and the kids of young men I’ve mentored. Particularly, I pray the Lord will save each of them, and He will use them mightily in His work in the decades to come. In that way, I get to pray for gospel work that will go on long after God has called me home.
- Contrary to the way I used to be, I’m more concerned now about the frequency of my prayers than about the length of my prayers. In fact, I’m reminded that long prayers can sometimes be pretense (Matt 6:7-8, Luke 20:45-47). Ongoing, short prayers throughout the day now seem much more on target to me than a lengthy prayer that I pray only once a day.
I have much, much room to grow in prayer, but I hope at least one of these ideas helps you. The cost is simply too great if we church leaders don’t pray much.