|YOUR PRAYER LIFE AS A LEADER
“Great praying,” wrote E.M. Bounds, “is the sign and seal of God’s great leaders.” What should be the role of prayer in your life as a leader? The instant answer to this should be the answer the apostles gave. They decided to give themselves to two things: “We … will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). For them, prayer was the first priority, and probably took the largest amount of their time. They could lead only as they prayed. They realized that their greatest responsibility was to cover the church with prayer as they ministered the Word. It was so urgent that they delegated many other duties to Spirit-filled lay people.
Bounds said that each leader “must be preeminently a man of prayer. His heart must graduate in the school of prayer … No learning can make up for the failure to pray. No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack. Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still. He will never talk well and with real success to men for God who has not learned well how to talk to God for men. More than this, prayerless words … are deadening words.”
You need audience before God before you attempt audience with your people. Stand in God’s presence before you stand before them. You must prevail before God before you can prevail before them. Not till you have worshiped with the seraphim are you ready to worship with your people. Only when you come from the presence of God can you lead them in the presence of God.
The saintly and gifted Church of Scotland minister Robert Murray McCheyne said, “In general it is best to have at least one hour alone with God before engaging in anything else. I ought to spend the best hours of the day in communion with God.” In an ordination sermon he exhorted: “Give yourself to prayers and the ministry of the Word. If you do not pray, God will probably lay you aside from your ministry, as He did me, to teach you to pray. Remember Luther’s maxim, ‘To have prayed well is to have studied well. … Carry the names of the little flock upon your breast like the High Priest. Wrestle for the unconverted.’”
You as a Christian leader today must not only follow the apostolic example, but you must be an example of prayer to all your people. Charles Spurgeon said, “Of course the preacher is above all others distinguished as a man of prayer. He prays as an ordinary Christian, else he were a hypocrite. He prays more than ordinary Christian else he were disqualified for the office he has undertaken.”
When Spurgeon was asked the secret of his success he responded, “Knee work! Knee work!” Finney explained, “In regard to my own experience, I will say that unless I had the spirit of prayer I could do nothing. If even for a day or an hour I lost the spirit of grace and supplication I found myself unable to preach with power and efficiency, or to win souls by personal conversation.”
Andrew Murray asked, “What is the reason why so many thousands of Christian workers in the world have not greater influence? Nothing save this – the prayerlessness of their service. … It is nothing but the sin of prayerlessness which is the cause of the lack of a powerful spiritual life.”
To learn how to pray and to be empowered and guided through prayer is the most important preparation of your task as a leader. To establish a leadership lifestyle of prevailing prayer is probably the most decisive element in your spiritual success. You will never be a greater leader than your prayers. You may have some apparent success without a strong prayer life. However, the eternal value of it and your eternal reward for it will be heavily dependent on your prayer life. All success apart from the spiritual dimension is a house built on sand.
If you as a leader should be ahead of your followers in anything, you should above all be the model and leader in prayer. May God make every leader a praying Elijah. Spurgeon’s cry was, “Oh, for five hundred Elijahs, each one upon his Carmel, crying unto God, and we should soon have the clouds bursting into showers. Oh, for more prayer, more constant, incessant, … prayer.”
Your prayer life is a clear revelation of how much a person of God and how much a spiritual leader you are. You will never be more important in God’s sight than your prayer life. No part of your ministry will be more greatly rewarded in eternity. The eternal value of all else you do depends on this.
From ABLAZE FOR GOD by Wesley L. Duwel, pages 211-213