One Great Fathers of the Church, John Chrysostom advised that "A fish taken out of water cannot live. In a very short time, it dies. Neither can the soul of man exists without prayer: it will gradually grow indifferent, it will die. Let us be convinced that not to pray and to lose the life of the soul - that is, the Grace of God - is one and the same thing." For me prayer is like an umbilical cord which channels God's nourishment and oxygen to my soul, to my work, indeed to my whole life.
The great Spanish mystic, Saint Teresa of Avila comments that "souls which have no habit of prayer are like a lame and paralytic body, which, though it has hands and feet, cannot use them. Therefore: to abandon prayer seems to me the same thing as to lose the straight road; for as prayer is the gate through which all the Graces of God come to us, when this is closed, I don not know how we can have any."
If prayer is this essential to the Christian life then it is very important in the lives of all who serve the Body of Christ as leaders.
The reason we often accomplish so little is that we do not walk with God.
Every Christian group which forms part of the Church, the Body of Christ is a living organism. We are the members and He is the Head (Colossians 1:18). It is from him that life flows (John 14: 6). The Bible makes it clear that we have a responsibility to cooperate with God (I Corinthians 3:6). We also know that unless the Lord build our house (our group, community) we labour in vain (Psalm 127:1).
Accepting Jesus, receiving his Spirit, forming part of a Christian body is not a human project but a supernatural, a spiritual project (Colossians 1:14). It is the Father who draws (John 6:44). It is the Holy Spirit who convicts (John 16:8-11). It's only Jesus who completes conversion (Titus 3:5). It is the Holy Spirit who also strengthens and empowers (Ephesians 3:16). It is He who gives spiritual gifts which promote unity (I Corinthians 12:25), and build up the Church (I Corinthians 14:12).
And the power to accomplish all this comes from spirituality, which, in turn, grows out of personal intimacy with Christ. Spirituality must first have a private dimension before it can have a public influence. Most leaders can cite any number of reasons why their group or community isn't growing. While the problems of apathy, institutional rigidity, and traditionalism are real, Jeremiah pointed to a different reason for lack of progress in God's work.
Jer 10:21 says that "the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered."
According to this verse, many Christian leaders are stupid when it comes to God's will, and their stupidity comes from a failure to pray. The busyness of our lifestyle tends to shut God out. There is no time for God in our hectic schedules. Another barrier is laziness. Spiritual growth is hard work.
Every leader who does not make prayer a mighty factor in his own life and ministry is weak as a factor in God's work and is powerless to project God's cause in the world. A prayerless leader has an insulated heart that is incapable of conducting divine power. Failure to pray short circuits God's power in his life and ministry.
As orthodox Christians we believe in prayer, but we often live as if prayer were merely a nonessential accessory to our faith. The sooner leaders realize that prayer is the very lifeblood of their service to the Lord, the smarter they will become as Christ's under shepherds.