Why Pray? Prayer is the determining factor.
From the notes of Dr. Dave Earley at Liberty University
THE DETERMINING FACTOR
Do you hunger to influence people for God?
Would you love to become a more effective leader?
Is it your passion to make a deeply positive spiritual difference in the lives of as many people as possible?
“Leadership is influence,”
“Since leadership is the ability to move and influence people, the spiritual leader will be alert to discover the most effective way of doing this.”
“Prayer influences men by influencing God to influence them.” J. O. Sanders
Prayer is the timeless, and often overlooked, secret to high impact spiritual leadership.
If you study the lives of God’s greatest spiritual leaders from Abraham to Billy Graham. It is my conclusion and conviction that prayer is the timeless, and often overlooked, secret to high impact spiritual leadership.
Certainly courageous acts, fearless faith, spiritual gifts, and anointed abilities help make leaders spiritually influential. I agree that credible integrity, fervent passion, clear purpose, and wise plans are important.
It is good to cast vision, identify your values, and build your team.
But the common denominator of great spiritual leaders and dynamic spiritual influencers down through the ages lies in their prayer lives.
Prayer is the Common Denominator of Effective Leaders
Prayer is not the only act of leadership, but it is the indisputable common denominator of spiritual difference makers in every generation and in any setting. I doubt that you can find a maximally effective spiritual leader in the Bible, or in history, who was not a person of prayer.
I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, and some poor. Some were learned, some unlearned…some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians… But one thing, I see, they all had in common. They all had been men of prayer.” J.C. Ryle
“Great praying is the sign of God’s great leaders.”
Old Testament history is filled with accounts of praying saints. The leaders of Israel in those early days were noted for their praying habits. Prayer is the one thing which stands out prominently in their lives… They were essentially men of prayer. E. M. Bounds
“More than any other single thing leaders do, it is their prayer life that will determine their effectiveness.” Henry Blackaby
“Great leaders pray!” Peter Wagner
“As a leader your usefulness is dependent upon your prayer…the effectiveness of your ministry depends on your spiritual life.” Wesley Deuwel
[Prayer in the life of the leader should be regarded] “as the highest part of the work entrusted to us, the root and strength of all other work… there is nothing we need to study and practice as the art of praying alright.” Andrew Murray
“The eminence of great leaders in the Bible is attributable to the fact that they were great in their praying.” J. O. Sanders
Most of us pray too little.
One survey said the average pastor prays only seven minutes a day! 13 Another said that 80% of pastors surveyed spend less than 15 minutes a day in prayer. 14 The most generous survey said that pastors pray all of 37 minutes a day. But it also showed that only 16% of Protestant ministers across the country are very satisfied with their personal prayer life. This survey stated that a disheartening 21% typically spend 15 minutes or less per day in prayer. 15
Prayer is the Most Important Task of the Spiritual Leader
Christian leadership is spiritual work.
Spiritual work depends upon spiritual tools.
No spiritual tool is as significant or powerful as prayer.
“In spiritual work everything depends upon prayer.” Andrew Murray
A survey of small group leaders revealed an interesting correlation between time spent in prayer and small group multiplication.
It revealed that leaders who spent 90 minutes or more in daily devotions multiplied their groups twice as often as those who spent less than half an hour. Joel Comiskey
Prayer is Potentially the Most Influential Activity a Leader Can Do
Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is and all that God does is at the disposal of prayer. But we must use the key. Prayer can do anything God can do, and as God can do anything, prayer is omnipotent. R. A. Torrey
Hudson Taylor was an English missionary to China. He founded the China Inland Mission which became miraculously influential for God in China. At his death, the mission included 205 mission stations with over 800 missionaries and 125,000 Chinese Christians.
What was his secret?
He said that he discovered, “It is possible to move men through God by prayer alone.”
The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest , extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. Prayer is the all-sufficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobscured by clouds, a heaven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, the other, of a thousand blessings.” John Chrysostom
Prayer Saves Time
When asked of his plans for the coming week, Martin Luther mentioned that he generally spent two hours a day in prayer, but his coming week was extra busy. Therefore he said,
“Work, work from early till late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
Sometimes we think we are too busy to pray. That also is a great mistake, for praying is a saving of time…God can multiply our ability to make use of time. If we give the Lord his due, we shall have enough for all necessary purposes. In this matter seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Your other engagements will run smoothly if you do not forget your engagement with God. CH Spurgeon
The truth is we are all too busy not to pray
Prayer is omnipresent
You can’t meet with all of your members twenty-four hours a day, but God can.
You can’t go with all of your members to their homes or with them to work, but God can.
You can’t be in two or more places at once, but God can.
“Prayer opens a whole planet to man’s activities.” S. D. Gordon
Prayer is the Determining Factor
The difference between mild stirrings and deep breakthroughs is prayer.
The difference between a temporary inclination and a lasting change is often prayer.
The difference between mediocrity and greatness is prayer.
The more we pray, the more God works.
The more God works, the better everything will ultimately be.
So he said he would destroy them—had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them. Psalm 106:23
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD. – Ezekiel 22: 30-31
“God will do nothing on earth, except in answer to believing prayer.” John Wesley
“Words fail to explain how necessary prayer is . . . while God never slumbers or sleeps He is inactive, as if forgetting us, when He sees us idle and mute.” John Calvin
When we pray we are working with God to determine the future. Certain things will happen in history if we pray rightly. Richard Foster
When God finds a person who will place as his priority a life of intimate, personal, dynamic fellowship with Him, He directs His power, guidance, and wisdom into and through that person. God has found a man through whom He can change the world. Leroy Eims,
Prayer is the determining factor… If we don’t, He won’t. Jack Hayford
God has of His own motion placed Himself under the law of prayer, and has obligated himself to answer the prayers of men. He has ordained prayer as a means whereby He will do things through men as they pray, which He would not otherwise do…man has it in his power to by prayer, move God to work in His own way among men, in which way He would not work if prayer was not made. EM Bounds
Prayer Provides Insight
“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
2 Chronicles 1:10
True prayer not only speaks, but also listens. Prayer connects us with God, and God knows everything. When we listen in prayer, God gives us insight into important matters.
Prayer is Our Greatest Spiritual Weapon
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
In its simplest meaning, prayer has to do with conflict. Rightly understood it is the deciding factor in a spirit conflict… Prayer is man giving God a footing on the contested territory of this earth… S.D. Gordon
“Prayer is not so much another weapon on our list of weaponry as it is the actual battle.” Dick Eastman
Pray or Quit
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1
If anyone on planet Earth needs to pray faithfully and fervently, it’s the pastor. For one thing, this job requires more of you than there is and more time than you have. The person accepting the Lord’s call into the ministry is agreeing to live in a world of unfinished tasks. You are literally being sentenced to live beyond yourself.
It is by its very nature impossible to live this life and do this work in your own strength. You will develop a strong prayer life or you will not survive. It’s as simple as that. Joel McKeever
We are told that an increasing number of pastors leave the ministry because of burn-out or moral failure. A stunningly high number of pastors and their spouses feel unqualified, discouraged, and disillusioned in their role in ministry.
Nearly 1 in 4 pastors have been terminated at some time in their vocation.
Kevin Miller, an editor for Christianity Today, concludes that, “Pastoring is increasingly like coaching pro football: being under [intense] pressure is part of the territory.”
Your task as a Christian leader is too big for you. Its immensity and awesomeness must drive you to prayer. Your vocation is too large for you and your calling too sacred for you. But God is available for your ministry if you are willing to pay the price in prayer. Wesley Duewel
What would happen if you prayed more than ever before?
What could it hurt?
Who might it help?
Why now make the investment?
Why not start now?
Why not take some time praying about your prayer life?
Why not watch less TV this week and spend more time praying?
Why not start your day talking to God?
Why not talk with God as you drive to work this week?
Why not talk with God as you fall asleep tonight?
Why not make a few special appointments to pray this week?
How to Make Time to Pray
Remind yourself of the value and power of prayer.
2. Determine a time or times when you will pray each day.
3. Decide on the amount of time you plan to spend praying each day.
4. Choice a place or places to have your prayer times.
5. Do it!