Your ability to lead effectively may well be a reflection of your time in prayer. Throughout Scripture we see the Bible’s greatest leaders spending time talking to God. Moses met with God daily in the “tent of meeting” in the desert (Exodus 33). King David prayed to God regularly; in fact, many of his Psalms are prayers (Psalm 86). Jesus Himself taught the disciples to pray (Matthew 6) and prayed to the Father numerous times, including just before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26). Since those ancient times leadership and prayer have gone hand-in-hand.
Your leadership can not only benefit from prayer, but you can use prayer as a tool to develop others as leaders as they observe you praying, and understand prayer as a part of your leadership process. When others hear you pray, they are not only learning how to pray, but learning how to lead, and how to incorporate a spiritual foundation into their daily routines. Perhaps there is no better example you can give another person than one of honest, regular and contemplative prayer. As you pray, consider:
Praying through decisions. Prayer helps us stay in tune with God as a leader. We can ask God about our decisions and in many cases His Word already has some advice for us in determining a direction. When the Bible isn’t specifically clear, God may often speak to us through circumstance, or wise counsel, or quietly and directly as we pray daily. In Psalm 32:8 God tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” God’s direction is always what is best for us, so our prayer regarding decisions as a leader will always help us make better decisions, even when they are difficult ones.
Praying for others. The Apostle Paul instructs us in 1 Timothy 2:1: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…” Prayer for all of those around you—your family, friends, coworkers, associates, customers, church members, your Friday Morning Men’s Fellowship table—should be included in your daily time of prayer. When you find an opportunity to pray for another person, don’t just say, “I’ll be praying for you,” and walk away. Instead, if the moment is appropriate, stop right then, find a quiet place, and pray with them. Don’t just offer prayer for others, let them hear you pray for them, expressing your genuine concern, and asking God to work in and through their life to accomplish His purposes. When you pray away from others, follow up with a personal note or mention the next time you see them that you have been praying, and find out how their circumstances have progressed. There are few better ways to develop a passion for the lives of others and their spiritual condition than to pray for them.
Praying publicly. Some may think it’s pious to pray in public, like in a restaurant before a meal, or with family before boarding a plane, or with construction team members before starting work on a jobsite. After all, Jesus said “[Hypocrites] love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others” (Matthew 6:5). But the Bible does indeed endorse and encourage praying in public (1 Corinthians 14:16). When we pray publicly, we are telling those around us about our own spiritual condition, and that we rely on and trust God to lead us even as we lead others.
As you pray through decisions, pray for others and pray publicly, you will allow prayer to saturate your leadership. Prayer helps to bring focus not only to your day and to your various responsibilities, but as you petition God for His grace and mercy and direction in all areas of your life and work, His work in your life will naturally be extended to others with which you come into contact. Jesus’ amazing promise of prayer in John 14:13-14 is this: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” What confidence we can have as we pray that if we are seeking God’s will, we need simply ask God in prayer and He will glorify himself through our lives as He answers our prayers and guides our life journey.