I was sitting with all the male leaders for our High School Ministry, planning to get more guys involved in the ministry. We thought of ideas like crazy games, guy-only events, and maybe even a camping trip (which would not be fun to me). As we sat there, one of the leaders spoke up. He told us to remember that we can and should bring all these ideas to life for these guys, but at the end of the day, the heart change in the guys will be because of the work of God.
He was right! I can never change someone’s heart. I can never give someone the Holy Spirit. I can never regenerate someone’s soul. But this does not bring me sadness, but joy. I have joy because I have full access to the one that can do all those things, and I can request anything from Him. So instead of sitting back and doing nothing, there is one thing I can do for the people that I lead that will make the most significant difference: PRAY.
THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER
Luke 22:31-32 ESV
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
This passage brings light to the power of prayer. I feel that Jesus could have done so many things to change the heart of Peter. I mean, his is fully God. And it seems that he did do the one thing he know would make sure that peters faith did not fail: PRAY. Jesus tells Peter that he acted on his behalf to make sure that his faith would not fail, and he did so by praying to His Father who is in control of all things.
So how should we apply this truth?
First, we NEED to pray more. There are many of us that talk and read about prayer more than we pray. Many of us read and talk about God more than we talk to Him.
So first, stop right now and pray.
Pray Psalm 51:10-12 and ask God to renew the spirit of joy in you so that the same excitement you had when you first became a Christian is renewed. Seriously, let us take a moment to be with Him.
Second, Rely on God more than yourself. If we work extremely hard for our ministries but don’t pray, we are no different from the world. Start small but set a time every day to put all your work down and pray for the people you lead. Pray that God would work in their hearts. Pray that God would give you a supernatural ability to lead. Pray that God still does work in their hearts no matter how great you perform in your work. If this is something you don’t do yet, start with 10 min a day for a week. Then the next week, do 15 min a day and slowly grow this each week.
Lastly, Trust God more than yourself. This sounds like a repetition from the last point, but there is a difference. If we pray often and we leave it all up to God, then there is no reason to be discouraged with the result. If we prayed often and God does amazing things in our ministries, we can praise that He did that work. If we pray often and two people come to know him after a year of ministry, then we can still praise Him because He is the one who acted in that way. We can praise Him for what He chooses to give us, even when it doesn’t look the way we want it to.
With all this being said, my encouragement to all of us is to rely on the source. To pray often and to trust our big God to do the heavy lifting in the hearts of our people.
Xavier Salazar is the High School Pastor at Scottsdale Bible Church in Scottsdale, AZ.