As leaders we are responsible for the guidance and well-being of those we lead, and it is exceptionally important to seek help from God through prayer. This month I’ll help you set the stage for great prayer and review some tips to talk with God.
- Prioritize Prayer. J. Oswald Sanders in his book Spiritual Leadership said, “Mastering the art of prayer, like anything else, takes time. The time we give it will be a true measure of its importance to us. We always find time for important things. The most common excuse for little time spent in prayer is the list of ‘to do’s’ that crowd our day-all our many duties. To Martin Luther, an extra load of duties was reason enough to pray more, not less. Hear his plans for the next day’s work: ‘Work, work from early til late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.’”
- Have a Time and a Place to Pray. We are creatures of habit. To be consistent, we need a time and a place to pray. Are you most alert in the morning while still in bed? Is the drive to work the least distracted time of your day? Are you best able to connect with God in your living room after the kids are in bed? Find the best time and place and then stick to it.
- Use Scratch Paper to Clear Your Mind. If you’re like me, when you try to concentrate on prayer, several random semi-important things start flying through your head. Scribble them down to “dump” them out of your mind so you won’t forget; then you can better focus on prayer.
- Use a Framework. The ACTS model is effective to help organize your time of prayer:
Adoration: praising and worshiping God for who He is.
Confession: asking God to forgive our sins.
Thanksgiving: thanking God for His love and provision in our life.
Supplication: asking for your needs and the needs of others.
- Make a Prayer List. Use either a note pad or a smart phone with an app such as Habit List. Make a list of people and situations God puts on your heart and pray about them regularly. Consider praying every day for your spouse and children, and for wisdom as you go through the day. As your list enlarges, categorize your prayers and pray for something different each day of the week. To expand your worldview, consider praying through every nation on www.operationworld.org. Another good prayer habit is journaling your prayers, as it increases your faith by seeing how God answers your requests over time.
I again challenge you to read the book “The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond” by Bill Hybels.