How Leaders Pray, When they Don’t Know What to Pray

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The looming decision.

The mounting pressure.

The growing restlessness.

Every leader faces these realities. For the leader of a church these are the kinds of dynamics that usually drive us to our knees in prayer.

But sometimes, at the very time we need prayer more than anything else, praying can be most difficult.

Words often seem inadequate; too superficial to convey what we’re feeling.

It’s at these times that leaders throughout the centuries have turned to the ancient practice of praying the scriptures; taking certain texts, contextualizing them, personalizing them, and then praying them back to God.

You likely already incorporate this into your spiritual disciplines. Perhaps you even teach the practice to your congregation.

Certainly in my experience, praying the scriptures has been a lifeline when my own words to God were hard to muster.

From time to time on this blog I will share some of these prayers with you, hopefully to prompt your own leadership prayers.

This first, very familiar prayer, is one I’ve turned to when I have felt woefully ill-equipped for the leadership task before me.

These words, uttered by Solomon in 1st Kings 3: 7-9, have been repeated by leaders through the centuries.

Here is my personalized version:

Here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, leader of this church. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of your people.

Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well. For who on their own is capable of leading your people?

For leaders, praying the scriptures not only can put words to your deepest thoughts, but it also ensures, as John Maxwell teaches, that you are always praying in God’s will.

If you’ve been a little out of practice in this ancient tradition, consider re-incorporating it into your leadership prayer life.

Sometimes it’s the best way to pray, when you don’t know what else to pray.

What other scriptures have you used in your leadership prayers?

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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