The true test of leadership is settled in the prayer closet. A great leader is great in prayer. In one life after another, there’s testimony that God intended leadership and intercessory prayer to be inseparably intertwined (Deut. 9:25–29; 1 Sam. 7:5–9, 12:23; Eph. 1:15–21, 3:14–21).
To accept the heavenly appointment as a leader is to commit to the rigors of fervent prayer. Yes, it’s a sobering assignment, but when fully embraced it becomes our most joyful and rewarding duty.
Jesus graciously shows how to intercede in John 17. Through a tender exchange with the Father, the praying heart of the Son for God’s glory, God’s plan, and God’s good for people is unveiled. And we’ve been extended a hand-engraved invitation to eavesdrop and replicate.
Our hearts are cheered when we consider . . .
- Who knows our needs more than we do? Jesus.
- Who knows the most effective way to pray for those who are following in our footsteps? Jesus.
As we embark on a new ministry year, let’s take seriously our charge to be praying leaders and lift our eyes to heaven (John 17:1) to partner with Jesus in His sacred intercessory work. I’m including myself as I pray for the people I lead and love.
Praying Like Jesus
1. Fill my friends with the overflowing, cross-bearing joy of Jesus (John 17:13).
Oh Jesus, the living Word, You are the source of pure abounding joy (15:11). You’ve given us Yourself. What greater treasure could we ever hope to claim? Through Your intimate presence, we gain all the spiritual fullness, contentment, and merriment our souls long for (Ps. 16:11). May we never be satisfied with less of You than is ours to have. Impregnate us with cross-bearing joy that won’t miscarry when trials strike but instead thrusts us deeper into Your mercy and love. Cause our unexplainable joy in the cross of suffering to display Your breathtaking gospel.
2. Protect my friends from the evil influences of the world (John 17:15).
Shield us from worldly temptations as we fiercely take up the armor of God. Teach us to escape the sin that so easily entangles through the grace You’ve provided (1 Cor. 10:13; Phil. 2:13; Heb. 12:1–2). May we be known as women who return evil with good and pray for those who persecute us (1 Thess. 5:15; Matt. 5:44). Give us hearts that hate what You hate and love what You love. Show us how one ordinary life can influence the world for the gospel.
3. Make my friends holy through Your truth (John 17:17).
Wash us in Your transforming, life-giving Word so our minds will be protected from lies and unbelief. Set us apart for Your holy purpose in every rhythm of life. God of peace, by Your Spirit sanctify us through and through (1 Thess. 5:23). Change us, we pray. May every small act of obedience performed in Your Name bring You glory . . . whether changing diapers, serving a meal to the homeless, welcoming the hurting into our messy homes, or praying with a friend at work.
4. Unify us as one so the world will take notice (John 17:11, 22–23).
Lord, we’re heartbroken that too often the world sees a splintered, bickering church instead of the harmony and unity perfectly reflected in the godhead. The unity of believers has the power to make the gospel real. Forgive us for allowing differences, jealousy, and personal preferences to divide us. We need Your help, Lord. Will You restore the beauty of a united church and be glorified through it? To that end, let each one of us walk in humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love (Eph. 4:2). Following in Your humble path, may we put other’s needs before our own and be willing to lay our lives down for our brothers and sisters (Phil. 2:3–4; 1 John 3:16). Your love, sweet Jesus, is the tie that binds us. May our unity shine a spotlight on You.
Thank You, Jesus, for entrusting us with these dear ones to lead in the coming year. We’re insufficient for the task so we look to You. Help us to walk worthy of such a high calling. Amen.