“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
Imagine you’re a General, or perhaps a Governor, called and commissioned to oversee a vast territory under the authority of a Great and Noble King. The King loves you as much as his own son and cares more for you than his own life. He has fully committed himself to your success under his rule, and has offered not only all of his vast resources, but even his own time to help you become in every way the leader he knows you could be. He’s willing to meet with you any time you need, for as long as you need. Effectively, he’s offered to partner with you in leading the people he has given into your care.
That’s pretty much the situation faith-based leaders are actually in. All of God, everything he is and all he has to offer, is available to them. All of heaven is bent to their success. It’s a beautiful offer, a stunning grace. Toss in a vast and complex spiritual war happening on their turf, and the invitation to partner with the King becomes even more vital to the success of their leadership. Even imperative.
It’s so curious, then, why so many faith leaders I come across don’t really pray.
I mean, they pray, of course. They pray like most of us pray. Help me with X. Bless my husband/wife/kids/family/friends/staff. Heal Asher/Bailey/Sam/Joe/Beth. Oh, and Be with us. In fact, Be with us in a special way.
But do they pray like a General meeting with his King? Do they pray like a Governor overseeing the advance of the Kingdom under his or her rule?
Not so much.
I don’t believe for a second that leaders don’t pray because they don’t believe in prayer or don’t want to pray truly powerful prayers. I think it’s because we’re unsure how. The spiritual realm is very mysterious, and there are many contradictions within the Church about how it’s supposed to work. There are abuses as well…people taking prayer and turning it into a form of wishcraft or even to such ego-driven excesses as to fall into sorcery or just plain idiotic foolishness.
For all those reasons and more, I think the only effective way to learn how to pray in a truly powerful way is through humility. I like how Merton says it:
“When it comes to prayer, we do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life.” ~ Thomas Merton
It’s in that spirit, then, that I’m introducing this series. Over the next several weeks, I’m going to highlight four types of prayer that faith leaders (and really, all of us) need to learn how to pray. They are:
There are, of course, many other types of prayer besides these. But in my work with leaders over the past 20+ years, I have found these four to be especially essential to leadership effectiveness. I look forward to sharing these with you, and I welcome your comments along the way. Let’s learn from each other how to pray more powerfully as leaders!