A Closer Look at Prayer-Saturated Leadership

What would happen if you gave someone full access to your prayer life for the next forty-eight hours? What would they notice if they not only had a front row seat to your home life and your ministry life . . . but if they also had access to your thoughts and intentions?

Consider which of the following might be observed about you: 

  • You prioritize time with God in the morning before anything else.
  • You pray in moments when you need help.
  • You pray, but only when you’ve exhausted other options.
  • You pray as though everything depends on it.
  • You live as though everything depends on you. 
  • You talk to the Lord all day long.
  • You invite others into your conversation with Him. 

As a leader, you know the importance of prayer, and it’s probably a regular part of your life. But would it be accurate to say that you live and lead in such a way that your life and ministry are saturated in prayer? 

I asked women’s ministry leader Theresa Stimpert what it means to have a prayer-saturated ministry. Here’s how she defined the terms: 

A prayer-saturated leader . . . is better able to discern God’s will and direction for her life and the life of the ministry she serves in. In prayer she obtains God’s wisdom, hope, comfort and peace through Christ to share with others.

A prayer-saturated ministry . . . is one that relies wholly upon God and His power to move within our life, the ministries we serve in, and the lives of those we serve. We can easily push forward in our own strength, especially in an area in which we are gifted. But if we want growth, transformation, and lasting fruit, then we have to heed Jesus’ reminder to us in John 15:4–5 that apart from Him we can do nothing. Lasting fruit comes from abiding in Christ and allowing Him to work in and through us . . . and that abiding begins in prayer.

Meet Two Prayer-Saturated Leaders 

Theresa Stimpert and Heidi Jo Fulk are living examples of what it looks like to prioritize prayer as leaders as well as in their personal lives. 

  • Theresa Stimpert lives in rural Minnesota with her husband Scott. They have four children and four grandchildren. After twenty years of homeschooling, she is in a new season of life. Theresa currently serves as one of four members of her women’s ministry team. She co-leads a Bible study and serves as a mentor through a ministry called jOURney Together. This last November, she also joined the moderator team for the Revive Our Hearts Women’s Ministry Leaders Facebook group.
  • Heidi Jo Fulk and her husband, Dan, live in Michigan with their four children. Heidi Jo has been a regular writer for Revive Our Hearts and has contributed numerous blog posts and Leader Connection articles. In 2021, she shared her story in the powerful Revive Our Hearts radio series, “Trusting God When Your Health Takes a Turn, wth Heidi Jo Fulk.” She currently serves as the Women’s Ministry Director at her church and leads women on a journey to discover God’s purposes and our responses throughout the Bible as host of The SO THAT Podcast.

Theresa’s Catalyst to Prayer 

Theresa’s prayer life has grown over the years since she became a believer. Before her conversion, her prayers were rooted in fear and obligation. “After salvation I had the desire to pray,” she remembers, “but I had no idea what that looked like. I had a notebook that I used to record and date requests, but I was not very consistent with using it. It wasn't until years later that I heard the term ‘praying scripture,’ but even then, I did not understand what that looked like.”

Theresa’s prayer life changed in 2014 when she and a few ladies from her church formed a prayer group to pray for their prodigal children and prodigal husbands. They called the prayer group “KP4HisGlory.” KP stood for “Keep Praying,” while the number 4 was a reminder of the time they agreed to pray: 4 a.m. It was with this group of sisters that Theresa learned how to pray Scripture. The group had a text check-in each morning, they wrote and shared scripture prayers with one another, and they gathered together in-person or by phone for group prayers throughout the year. Looking back on that season Theresa remembers, “It was a sweet season of prayer, and it was the catalyst in my life for learning to pray.” 

Theresa’s prayer life grew again when the movie War Room was released in 2015. She had heard a former pastor’s wife suggest having a set apart place of prayer, but it wasn’t until she saw the movie that she desired to have a place of her own. “Matthew 6:6 in the King James Bible speaks specifically of a closet, but I didn't have a closet or even an extra room at that time,” she said. “My prayer closet was a chair in the corner of my bedroom. It became a safe refuge to meet with God and pour out my heart to Him.”

Now Theresa’s prayer closet is a sitting room off the master bedroom that her husband designed and renovated for her. “We call it the sanctuary,” she said, describing it as a cozy spot with a couch, two chairs and an electric fireplace at the far end of her home where she can shut the door to be alone with the Lord. “It is where I read my Bible and pray each morning, but I have also used it to gather with friends for extended times of prayer through the years. Next to my chair, I keep a three-tiered rolling cart with my Bible, a hymnal, my prayer binder, and different resources/books I use in prayer.” 

Steps to Take in This Season 

Theresa’s prayer life hasn’t always been as extensive as it is today. To the leader who struggles with making prayer a consistent habit, she offers this encouragement: 

Friend, I’ve been there! Prayer hasn’t always come easy for me and over the last couple of years I’ve faced new struggles too. I remind myself that just as we journey through the different seasons of life—single, married, children, empty nester, etc.—our prayer times also change and evolve. Some seasons naturally allow for extended periods of prayer while in other seasons it seems almost impossible to find time. 

Her advice is to think outside the box a bit. “In those seasons where it is harder to find larger chunks of time to get away and pray, think about your day and connect prayer to an activity you are already doing such as folding laundry, driving in the car, washing dishes, going for a walk, etc.” She says that you can redeem the time that those activities take by incorporating prayer into them.

She also suggests assigning certain days of the week to pray for specific areas. For example, on Mondays she prays for her church, the staff, and the church body. On Tuesdays she prays for missionaries and the ministries she supports. On Wednesdays she prays for her city, state, and country. Thursdays are for her extended family, and Fridays are for friends, prodigals, and the unsaved. Throughout her day, when she has five or ten extra minutes, she recalls what day it is and prays through that list. 

“Be encouraged,” she says, “prayer is not some complicated formulaic secret that requires that all the pieces come together in just the right way in order for it to be effective. Prayer is a conversation between you and God.” And it’s a conversation that directly impacts her role in women’s ministry: 

In my prayer closet, or more accurately, in my prayer life, I am connected to God, to His heart, His wisdom, and His transforming power. As a leader, I want to faithfully and humbly serve in a way that honors and glorifies God and not myself. Through intimacy in prayer, I am reminded of my complete dependance upon Him for any success or growth in ministry. (Prov. 19:21, Prov. 3:5–6)

Heidi Jo’s Two-Part Prayer Initiative 

Heidi Jo Fulk is an example of what it looks like to model dependence on the Lord through prayer to know the next steps to take—in her personal life, but also in her women’s ministry. Several years ago, as she was meditating on possible new opportunities for women in her church, she went to the Lord to seek Him for direction and vision for the future. “As I prayed through possibilities,” she said, “I included pleas that He would open my eyes to what I needed to grow in, as well as what the women in my church family needed to learn or live out. Prayer was the answer He impressed upon me.” 

As she reflected on her own journey of becoming a woman who understands and pursues prayer, she recognized: 

There had been a learning curve in my life. As I began to understand more of who God is and how I’m utterly dependent on Him, I prayed more. As I read and studied the Bible more, I realized praying what the Word says—actual verses in their context—means that I am praying in God’s will. And as I interacted with wise and godly women, I discovered that prayer was usually a significant part of their lives.

One of those wise, godly women kindly pointed out several observations to the way ministry was currently being done. They had regular opportunities within Bible study classes and groups for women to share specific, personal prayer requests, but as she pointed out, an unstructured time of prayer might result in women spending more time sharing requests than actually praying. She also pointed out what was missing: regular, structured prayer opportunities with a set focus, guided and supported by Scripture. 

That conversation inspired Heidi Jo to set out on a two-fold mission: 

  • Plan an initiative that would give her women tools to pray on their own. 
  • Create a plan for each woman at her church to be prayed for. 

Her women’s ministry began sending out a monthly prayer email to all of the women at their church with a specific prayer focus and related Scripture. The email often includes a challenge for women to choose someone to pray for using that focus. Her ministry also developed a team of “praying women” to pray, by name, for every woman at the church.

“While there is never a perfect or problem-free strategy for ministry,” Heidi Jo says, “I commend to you this or a similar strategy for focused, intentional, Word-focused prayer so that you and the women you serve are fueled to pray, formed by prayer, and ready to respond to God with surrendered and joyful hearts.” 

Growing as a Prayer-Saturated Leader 

When you look ahead to the next few months of your life, which of the following statements do you hope will be true of you? 

  • You spent time in the Lord’s presence, reflecting on the areas of your prayer life that needed the most growth. 
  • You asked God to show you which small steps you could take to deepen your personal prayer life, and you asked Him for help to carry them out.
  • You began a new prayer initiative in your women’s ministry to equip women to develop their own intimate and powerful prayer life. 

If you long to be a prayer-saturated leader, what’s your next step? To pray! As you seek the Lord to grow you in this area, may He not only strengthen your personal prayer muscles, may He make dependence on Him the marker of every part of your ministry as well.

For more of the details behind Heidi Jo’s women’s ministry prayer initiatives, check out the articles, “How Do I Plan a Women’s Worship and Prayer Event” and “A Prayer Strategy for Women in Your Church.”

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's blog A Patient Process is a record of the Lord's faithfulness in chronic illness, for even in suffering, He is good.