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6 Ways Pastors Become Men of Prayer

Is every pastor a man of prayer? At first, the question sounds odd, like asking if all water is wet or if all fire is hot. The truth, however, may be surprising. Statistically speaking, almost no pastor is satisfied with his prayer life.

During a recent pastors’ conference where I led the prayer response, pastors openly repented of having “no prayer life.” One pastor called me after the conference to confess that he “never prays.” It was surely an exaggeration, but I wonder how many other pastors feel a sense of failure in prayer? Fortunately, beyond anecdotal information alone, we have supporting data. In 2022, Lifeway reported that 72% of pastors believe consistency in their personal prayer lives is their number one spiritual need.

Scripture offers us plenty of incentive to be praying leaders. Jesus, for instance, governed His ministry through prayer. There are about 20 instances in the Gospels during significant points in His ministry when Jesus prayed. If He organized His ministry around prayer, shouldn’t we? 

Having learned from the Master, Peter, and the other Apostles identified prayer as one of their top two priorities in ministry (Acts 6:4). Paul told the Colossians that he never ceased to pray for them (Col.1:9) and that he “wrestled” in prayer on their behalf (Col.4:12). He told the Romans (1:8-10), Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:4), Ephesians (1:16), Philippians (1:3-4), and Thessalonians (1 Th. 1:3-4) something similar. He counseled his younger protege Timothy to shepherd his church around prayer (1 Tim. 2:1-8). 

In the New Testament, church leaders prayed (Acts 1:14; 13:1-4). Why wouldn’t we follow their example? We certainly haven’t improved upon their results!

Prayer is central to New Testament ministry, so what immediate steps can any pastor take to become a man of prayer? 

  1. Put God on Your Calendar. First, prioritize prayer like any other important appointment. And remember, if you’re too busy for prayer, you’re too busy. Setting a specific time for prayer each day is critical. Pastors live by calendars, appointments, and deadlines. Meeting with God at the same time every day builds consistency. 
  2. Set a Time. Time spent in prayer matters. Even if you start with only 5 minutes a day, it may be an improvement over your current practice. Spiritual growth can’t be microwaved; it has to be marinated. Real prayer requires quality time.
  3. Name the Place. Next, determine your place for prayer. You have a room for almost everything else of importance in your life. Why would a pastor not have a prayer place? Jesus said, “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Mt 6:6). Plainly, a place with limited distractions is essential to praying “in secret.” Wherever your place is, it should be distraction free and always available. 
  4. Habit Forming. Keep your commitment. Let’s say, for example, you commit to praying 15 minutes every morning. That’s a good start, but it’s not enough. Instead, for example, commit to praying 15 minutes every morning for 30 days. Remember, “you are what you repeatedly do.” Prayer, like every other priority in your ministry, must become a habit in order to become successful. You’re not just praying. You’re building a habit of prayer. 
  5. Fuel the Fire. Every pastor knows that being a “self-starter” is essential for ministry. Maintaining your motivation is an essential key that defines the difference between finishing well or not. No one maintains his motivation levels without frequently fueling the fire. For instance, every pastor needs to read current and classic books on prayer. Read biographies of great prayer warriors. Listen to other leaders teach on prayer. Success means taking advantage of easily accessible wisdom available to fuel your fire. 
  6. Team Up. Prayer dominates the book of Acts, yet it is almost impossible to find anyone praying alone. There are only a couple of examples. Instead, it appears that everything in the book of Acts happened at a prayer meeting, after a prayer meeting, or on the way to a prayer meeting. For too long in the modern age, we have made prayer only a DIY project. Of course, secret prayer is necessary, but so are dynamic prayer meetings. Frequently what we call a “prayer meeting” is, in fact, dull and lifeless and bears no resemblance to the prayer meetings in the New Testament where the earth shook when they prayed, prison cells were opened, and the Spirit spoke. Pastors must reclaim the prayer meeting as a vital force for ministry in the 21st century.

Our congregations are hungry for the awareness of God’s presence. The 2023 Asbury revival is a perfect example. Thousands of people traveled to tiny Wilmore, Kentucky, to experience the presence of God in a prayer meeting.

The pastor’s prayer life is not an additional item on his busy “to-do” list. Instead, the praying life is a complete reorientation of how we do ministry. We’ve tried it other ways. Prayer is the better way.

    About the Author

  • Kie Bowman

    Kie Bowman is senior pastor emeritus of Hyde Park Baptist Church and The Quarries Church in Austin, Texas and the SBC National Director of Prayer.

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