DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Prayer

Written by: on June 19, 2019

In Chapter One of Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching, Christian Coach and leader Tom Camacho states, “Prayer is the real transforming force in ministry”[1]

In the section on Building a Coaching Leadership Culture, the first key concept listed was “Pray.”[2]

In the “Potential Action Steps” section at the end of each chapter, prayer was often cited as the first step.

But I have confession to make. When I read lists like this and see “prayer” as Step One, I often move quickly on to Step Two. Yes, yes, I know, we are supposed to bathe everything in prayer. I know all the clichés. But I’m a woman of action. I want to know what I need to DO. Okay, pray. But then what?

And worse, should I ever choose to implement the recommendations from such books, I don’t just quickly read over the “prayer” step, I don’t even do it.

I’m not the only one. I’ve been in many a Christian meeting where we say a prayer at the beginning that is more rote than real, and then end by asking God to simply put His stamp of approval on all the decisions that we’ve made. “Bless our work. No matter whether it’s the work you want us to do. Bless our plans. Make us succeed.” Our Kingdom come, our will be done.

Prayer is mentioned 43 times in Camacho’s book—compare that with Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures, by McIntosh and Rima, where prayer is mentioned 10 times.[3]

I was recently met a man who had just returned from a trip to South Korea, where he had the opportunity to meet with a group of pastors. He said that the pastors with whom he met took the apostle’s commitment to the “prayer and preaching of the Word,”[4] as an example to be followed quite literally. To that end, they spent exactly half of their work week in sermon prep, and the other half in prayer. While I know of many American and French pastors who spend about twenty hours a week on sermon prep, I don’t know of any who spend twenty hours a week in prayer. Not that this in an example to be taken literally; however, the cultural difference reveals an underlying principal. If I may generalize, it seems that Western pastors have more faith in the transformational power of their sermons than they do in the transformational power of prayer.

And you can count me among their numbers.

I’m reminded of the haunting question from Chand’s Leadership Pain, which he asked to heal the reader determine if he or she might be a Pharisee: “Do you pray more in public than in private?”[5]

For far too long, I fell into the trap of believing that information would lead to transformation, thinking, “If people just KNEW the Truth, if the UNDERSTOOD the message, surely they would change.” But it doesn’t work that way. Don’t get me wrong, I believe information matters. I love the Word and I need the wisdom it provides. But I need intimacy with the living God more. And that happens as I draw near to God in prayer.

What’s more, the people to whom I am called to minister, the many women that I coach and mentor—they need me to be a woman of prayer.

Oh, but this is hard for me. For most of my life I can honestly say that an hour at the dentist seemed more appealing than an hour in prayer—and I HATE the dentist.

This is where technology has become my friend. While I aspire to digital minimalism, one app that consistently survives the “cost-benefit analyses”[6] that Cal Newport recommended in his book on that topic is an app called Inner Room, developed by the ministry Prayer 24/7 (https://innerroom.app/). Using Inner Room, I can upload photos along with the prayer requests of the people I am coaching, and I get sent reminders to pray. There is “quick pray” option that allows you to pray for three people in three minutes—I use this all the time on the metro, in waiting rooms, or even when waiting for water to boil for a cuppa.

I DO believe that “Prayer is the real transforming force in ministry”[7] and I want my actions to reflect that belief. I have a long way to GROW in this regard, but the InnerRoom App is like training wheels for me in this endeavour. I look forward to the day when prayer is my first reflex, my great joy, and my source. Until then, I’m going to make a commitment to muddle along awkwardly, with my wobbly training wheels, learning to be a person of prayer.

Join me?

[1] Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching, Review Copy (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2019). 16.

[2] Camacho. 60.

[3] Gary L McIntosh and Samuel D. Sr. Sr Rima, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures, Ebook (Grand Rapids: Baker Pub. Group, 2010).

[4] Acts 6:4

[5] Samuel Chand, Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth (Harpercollins Christian Pub, 2015), 177.

[6] Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2019), 28.

[7] Tom Camacho, Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders Through Coaching, Review Copy (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2019). 16.

About the Author

mm

Jennifer Williamson

Jenn Williamson is a wife and mother of two adult sons. Before moving to France in 2010, she was the women's pastor at Life Center Foursquare Church in Spokane, WA. As a missionary with Greater Europe Mission, she is involved in church planting and mentoring emerging leaders. Jenn benefitted from French mentors during her transition to the field, and recognizes that cross-cultural ministry success depends on being well integrated into the host culture. Academic research into missionary sustainability and cultural adaptation confirmed her own experience and gave her the vision to create Elan, an organization aimed at helping missionaries transition to the field in France through the participation of French partners.

8 responses to “Prayer”

  1. Great post, Jenn!

    I hadn’t even noticed that. It’s interesting that Camacho highlighted the importance of prayer for direction and leadership. Why do you think that prayer is forgotten? Why do we tend to ask God to bless our decisions, instead of steeping our decisions in Christ?

    Many churches are advocating sermon swapping, where pastors have the ability to reach into a vast database of relevant messages and serve it to their audience on Sunday morning. This leads to trendy messages that can easily go viral, but it removes prayer and the Holy Spirit from the equation. How has prayer influenced your ministry context?

    • I think prayer is forgotten because it’s hard. It feels like we aren’t doing anything. The results are rarely immediate. It’s a discipline. And it’s an act of humility–admitting need and asking for help.

      We live in a monastic rhythm of prayer here, gathering morning and evening to seek God and pray. This regular rhythm of community prayer has helped me establish a discipline that is becoming a cherished part of my life. But I never would have done it without community.

  2. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Jenn!

    You nailed it with this Blog! Well done and thank you for your emphasis (and honesty) about prayer. Plus, you tied it so well to our other readings.

    Most of all, thank you for who you are. We sure appreciate you. Thanks for leading us well in finishing your dissertation first. I very much hope you will walk with us next May, as the Lord allows.

  3. Great last post Jenn…we are finally done with all the course work and ready to move on to finish our dissertations. Halleluja!!! Yes, I would love to join you in learning to be a person of prayer…I truly would love for prayer to be my first reflex as well. And the Inner Room app sounds amazing, thanks for that as well. It has been a pleasure getting to know you on this journey and I pray our paths cross again someday and know that I will pray for your ministry to the French people and that your leadership gets utilized to its fullest extent. Looking forward to hanging out in London!

  4. mm Mike says:

    Jenn,

    Congratulations my sister in Christ and LGP8 friend and cohort member. You have finished well. 2 years down at GFU and if I heard you right you are submitting your dissertation this semester? Wow, best of luck, and I just gave you a 10 second prayer for success. LOL.

    I hear you, the whole prayer thing you talked about is spot on. Thanks also for the prayer App. I’m going to look at it and download.

    I appreciate you so much for your mission heart, global leadership perspective, and “call it like it is” attitude for all things theo-secular. Keep up the great Jenn-theologies.
    See you in London.

    Stand firm,
    Mike

  5. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jennifer,

    This is a powerful final blog and a reminder that prayer is not superfluous to the work we are called to do. It is a struggle sometimes to see prayer as critical to our efforts when it seems there is so much more pressing that needs to be done. Yet, those I know who immerse themselves in prayer as a priority seem to live in their ‘sweet spot’ in ways that I do not. Maybe there is something to it after all.

    Thanks for your candor and honesty about this struggle for you.

  6. Tom Camacho says:

    Oh my goodness! Jenn, you saw something that I didn’t even consciously realize: prayer is not an activity to help ministry go better, it is the ministry itself. Everything else flows from that life of intimacy with Jesus. Love your authentic expression of your prayer journey and the battle we all face to pray more. Years ago I was in KC at the House of Prayer and God challenged me not just to pray, but to become a person of prayer. It is a completely different thing and it has made all the difference. It is definitely a road less traveled. Traveling that road with you.

  7. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Jenn,
    You are so wise and have such incredible writing skills! Your perspective is excellent and your focus and drive to be a leader in God’s kingdom is incredible. Thank you for being a core member of this cohort. I am blessed by your friendship, peer mentoring, and am a much better person for knowing you! God is pleased with your obedience, humility, and desire to change the world. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *