Leadership by Christian women should look radically different than any other type of leadership, because Christian women understand the power of praying. Prayer may be the hardest work Christians do to lead effectively in a world that has moved away from God.
Minette Drumwright, in her book The Life that Prays, makes a case that prayer should be a strategy with two major purposes: “(1) to know God in Christ intimately, to love Him increasingly, and to become more like Him; and (2) to participate with Him in what He is doing in the world.”
Christian history and the Bible teach us that God answers those who pray consistently. He looks for those who pray and intercede for others. Ezekiel 22:30 (NIV) says, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”
God should find us standing in the gap for our families, for those we work with, for our nation, and for our world. Prayer is the real work of Christian women leaders.
Christian women should have a habit of prayer. Before our feet touch the floor each morning, we can turn our thoughts toward God and begin the work of prayer. When we are serious about reading God’s Word and meditating on it, He will continue to focus our prayers throughout the day.
Prayer as Work from Christian History
Christian history demonstrates how God answered those who prayed fervently.
The Moravians prayed night and day. This movement, begun in 1727, started when church members each took an hourly intercession time that covered the 24-hour day. The revival and the missionaries sent from the community must have resulted from this dedicated prayer vigil that lasted for 100 years.
George Müller, who grew up in Germany in the 1800s, moved to London to be a missionary. Burdened by the orphans he saw, he opened an orphanage. From the beginning, he decided that God would meet His needs if he simply asked Him for what he needed, rather than asking people for help. He believed in the power of prayer. Sometimes God would answer while the children were waiting for food. These prayers of faith also allowed the orphans to see how God answered prayer.
Brother Lawrence, a monk who lived in the 1600s, made it a practice to always live in the presence of God. When his mind wandered, he simply forgave himself and chose to redirect his attention to God’s presence. Though he was a simple kitchen worker, people sought his advice about how to stay focused on God’s presence. The book The Practice of the Presence of God was based on his conversations and letters to others about how he desired to constantly practice God’s presence.
Jesus waits for us to commune with Him, just as He waited at the well for the woman to come and receive living water.
Prayer as Work from the Bible
The Bible shows that God answers those who depend on Him and that He gives wisdom to those who pray.
The Jewish people prayed, and their resilience through persecution may have had something to do with this prayer habit. Joseph brought the Israelites, the other 11 sons of Israel (Jacob), to Egypt during the famine so that they would not die. Yet, once they populated Egypt, they eventually needed another rescuer from slavery. They did what they knew to do: they continued the persistent work of prayer until God responded and rescued them through Moses. Exodus 3:9–10 (NIV) says, “And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
In the New Testament, a widow named Anna prayed night and day in the temple. When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, she saw the baby and prophesied about Him in front of the others who were there. It is evident that this knowledge came from knowing God intimately as she labored in prayer night and day.
Luke 2:36–38 tells her story,
“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Prayer allows us to communicate with God and to humble ourselves so that we can know Him and see Him work.
Prayer as Work from the Scriptures
The Bible provides many Scriptures to encourage us to continue to pray.
Here are a few examples:
- “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).
- “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV).
- “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV).
Effective Christian leadership starts when prayer becomes our work.
Minette Drumwright, The Life that Prays: Reflections on Prayer as Strategy (Birmingham, AL: Woman’s Missionary Union, 2001), 61.
-Claudia Johnson, CWLC Leadership Consultant