“Pray without ceasing…” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Yeah right, like that’s going to happen. Let me just start off with a confession: I am not a prayer warrior. I struggle with prayer. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is. It’s nothing for me to make a decision after careful consideration only to be chastised by the Holy Spirit when someone asks me later, “Did you pray about that?” I hate that question! I hate it because when it comes to prayer, I often fail. It is second nature for me to study the Word, seek wise counsel, and think critically before making decisions, but prayer? Prayer is my Achilles heel.
Still, in a weird way, I think that’s exactly what makes me qualified to write about it. I may be awful in this area, but it isn’t a blind spot for me; I’m careful to implement measures to limit my failing.
They say that knowing is half the battle. If, like me, you know prayer is a weak point for you, then congratulations; you’re halfway to victory. Here are four steps you can take to make sure you win the other half.
Don’t hide your weakness, let it show. It’s not bragging when you tell your leadership team, “Hey, I’m terrible at this, so please pay attention on my behalf.” It’s being authentic. You want them to call you out because prayer is way too important for all of us for you as a leader to let it slide just because you stink at it. You want your people to know and catch the fail before it becomes a problem.
That’s right, you heard me: let someone else do it. My leadership team has a prayer czar (not his actual title) who will be on top of it even when I’m not, someone who will remind me beforehand to open the meeting with prayer, close the meeting with prayer, keep track of important prayer requests, and make sure that we, as a group, are fulfilling our obligation to pray for certain things. This has the added benefit of letting people know that, yes, prayer really is that important. If you’re bad at something, let someone who is good at it take the lead. That sort of wisdom isn’t rocket science.
Build it into the program.
It’s kind of like forcing yourself to pray. If there is a prayer event on the schedule, you’ll be there and you’ll participate, right? So one way to shore up your weakness is to face it directly. Yes, yes, it may seem odd putting something out there just because you happen to be bad at it, but then again, what are the odds you’re the only one in your ministry who stinks at prayer? Odds are a lot of people would benefit from such an event. So go ahead, hold a prayer vigil for the nation! Dedicate a few hours to the persecuted church! Hold a sacred assembly filled with worship and prayer for the next big push your church or ministry is moving towards! By all means, pray!"One way to shore up your weakness is to face it directly." -Jon Smith #collegiatedisciplemaker Four Steps to Stronger Prayer in Your Ministry Click To Tweet
Teach it to others.
There are tons of ways to pray, right? So, pick a few and lead your people to understand how to pray beyond thanking the Lord for food and asking Him for stuff before you go to bed at night. At the risk of getting too “listy,” here are three suggestions:
Praying the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus literally told you to pray this way, so break it down for your people line by line. Teach them the deeper meaning and the value of form. It’s an expositor’s dream, and they’ll appreciate it.
Praying the Psalms.
You know what makes the Psalms so special? Unlike the other sixty-five books of the Bible, which are all God’s Word to man, the Psalms are man’s words to God. There is nothing in the full range of human emotion that isn’t covered in there somewhere. Teach your people how to use that when they’re talking to God themselves. What a great way to incorporate Scripture into your life!
Praying the ACTS prayer.
Sometimes we get locked in on just asking God for stuff. Let’s be honest: it’s an easy habit to fall into. ACTS helps you break out and stay out of that rut.
- Adoration—praising God for who He is.
- Confession—admitting to Him your failures and shortcomings.
- Thanksgiving—counting out a few of your blessings.
- Supplication—Asking Him for help on behalf of others.
My Prayer for Prayer
There are a hundred other ways you can incorporate prayer into your ministry, many of them far more creative than these, but the question is will you use them? I’ve already confessed that this isn’t my strong suit, but by taking deliberate actions like these, I can say with a clean conscience that prayer is a hallmark of my ministry. There are a lot of things I don’t care if my students pick up from me or not, but the habit of not praying won’t be one of them. At least, that’s my prayer.