Growth through Prayer

Nikol Baldacchino

J. Oswald Sanders, an English Preacher, defined leadership as,
"the ability of one person to influence others. One man can lead others only to the extent that he can influence them." Whether coaching a football team, working as a manager in a factory, or leading a prayer group or a Christian community, one is influencing others.

Thus Sanders continues,
"The spiritual leader, however, influences others not by the power of his personality alone but by that personality irradiated and interpenetrated and empowered by the Holy Spirit."

There is a very basic principle in leadership: you can influence and lead others only as far as you have gone. The most likely person to be successful is not the one who leads by pointing the way. The leader who succeeds is the one who will say to his followers, "I have walked this way, come and join me!"

You will be a leader in as far as you inspire others to follow you. And I believe there is nothing that a leader should be ahead of his followers more than in the realm of prayer. Let me state it quite clearly, you can never be a leader if you are not a person of prayer. Ultimately, there is no greater power to move people for God than the example of a holy, godly life.

The growth rate of any Christian  group or community is directly proportional to the amount of time the leaders are spending in prayer. Prevailing prayer is a vital, albeit the most vital,  job of a leader. I believe that all the other qualities needed for leadership - vision, courage, preaching, good judgement, etc., - depend totally on it.  I consider that the leader's work needs to be born out of prayer in every area of life and at every point of activity.

So maybe your group or community, or the whole Catholic Charismatic Renewal in your country  is passing from a difficult time, or maybe it is not growing or you have other problems, ask yourself this simple question, "am I praying enough for my group, for this situation?"

Some time ago, I was invited together with the other Council members of ICCRS to be present at a mass with Pope John Paul II in his private chapel at the Vatican. What impressed me about this man of God is the way that he takes prayer seriously. When we arrived in the chapel, he was already there kneeling down in prayer. He stayed there for nearly half an hour. Then mass started. One could notice that the Pope was continuously in communion with God.

I remember saying to myself, "If this man who is so busy, with the responsibility of the whole church on his shoulders, takes prayer so seriously, how much I should also be a man of prayer!"

Why is prayer so important for the leaders?

Prayer is our declaration of dependence and trust in the Almighty. In prayer we acknowledge God as the ultimate source and substance of our being. When a leader allows prayer to be eroded from his life, he is saying: "God, I do not need you, I can get along quite well on my own."

One can find present in the Church groups of leaders, or parish councils or service teams of prayer groups that put prayer just as a formality at the beginning or at the end of their meetings. By this attitude they are just saying, "We can make better decisions by our discussion than by hearing the mind of God."

The reason we often accomplish so little is that we do not walk with God. 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 prayer less 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.     

Prayer sheds light on our decisions, on what should we do, on where we are going. Our own human wisdom is deficient if not backed up by God's Holy Spirit. "
The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (John14:26).

How often as leaders we find ourselves discussing conferences, organising activities, planning projects, doing evangelistic meetings! Time passes and we discover that they were fruitless!

The Chaplain of the United States Senate, Richard Halverston, advised that we really don't have any alternatives to prayer. He says, "
You can organise until you are exhausted. You can plan, programme and subsidise all your plans. But if you fail to pray it is a waste of time. Prayer is not optional. It is mandatory. Not to pray is to disobey God."

God told us through the prophet Zachariah, "Not by an army, nor by might, but my spirit, says the Lord of hosts." (Zach 4:6). It is only through prayer that we can receive God's Holy Spirit, that we can see the Church continued to be renewed by his mighty power.


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