While preparing to teach a class at my church, I came across an article that intrigued me just by its title: “Ten Myths About Prayer Pastors Believe.” While the article was not related to the topic of the class, I’ve spent three decades working with pastors and churches and so I continued reading. Written by someone with 25 years of senior pastor experience, I was curious as to what myths about prayer pastors might believe. The following excerpts from the article address seven of the myths. The full article can be found here. Do you share any of these myths? What’s the state of prayer in your church?
Myth #1: The people in my church know how to pray.
This myth says that a pastor does not need to teach his people how to pray because the Holy Spirit does that. Some may even say prayer comes intuitively and does not need to be learned or taught. The foundational thought is that a pastor’s time and resources would ultimately be better spent elsewhere, like in the teaching the Word. Most of the people in our churches really don’t know how to pray. They have turned prayer into an emotional vent, or a gossip session, or simply just telling God our laundry list of wants. There are people sitting in our pews that are dying to know how to pray but with no one to show them how to pray. We learn to pray by praying with others together.
Myth #2: We do not need (corporate) prayer to have an effective ministry.
There is a direct connection between extraordinary prayer and church health. Yet, prayerlessness in America is rampant. We don’t pray much anymore, and we don’t think we need to do so to advance the Gospel. We have never had more money, technology, talent, formal training, leadership textbooks, or educational resources at any time in the history of the church than we do today. Yet our impact here in America continues to diminish. We pour extraordinary resources into programs and new methodologies, but we seem to fall further behind because of our neglect of prayer.
Myth #3: The prayer ministry will grow without my leadership.
The prayer level of a church will never rise any higher than the personal example of the senior pastor. Every leader sets the tone for his followers. A pastor cannot delegate the leadership of the prayer ministry any more than he can delegate the leadership of the preaching ministry. The administration of the prayer ministry can be delegated, but the leadership is really in the pastor’s heart and hands.
Myth #4: I must be a prayer giant before I can lead my people.
Pastors need not have spent years in the realm of prayer before they can lead their people there. Pastors must just start somewhere and be willing to go up from there. You pray consistently and powerfully.
Myth #5: Because it is prayer, my motives will always be pure.
My motive has to be rooted in something that will never change. It can’t be the size of the congregation, the answers to prayer, or revival. The only enduring motive for prayer is that God is worthy to be sought. That never changes. We need to seek after God when we pray. This can be done in a big group or a small group. And we may not get answers to our prayer. But still, God is worthy to be sought.
Myth #6: Additional prayer leaders will naturally arise.
If the pastor does not reproduce in others the ability to have a vision for prayer, to understand corporate prayer, and to know how to lead a prayer meeting, the prayer ministry will never grow beyond the pastor’s ability to show up. The pastor is still the leader by example, but that does not mean he has to manage every prayer meeting and be at everything that goes on. Others need to be trained and equipped to lead for the future.
Myth #7: People will flock to prayer if I just lead the way.
Even if pastors start right and get passionate about prayer, the congregation may not come the first time. In other words, prayer might be a hard sell. Biblically-balanced prayer does change the culture of the church over time. It brings a supernatural aspect into the ministry that no one can describe. The late pastor and author A.W. Tozer once said not to expect a big crowd when God is the only attraction. Christianity is an all-out battle against the devil and the forces of evil. It is not a prayerless faith. We need to pray for the power of God daily.
The full article by Daniel Henderson can be viewed at these sites http://www.64fellowship.com/article/ten-myths-pastors-believe-about-prayer-part-1/ http://www.64fellowship.com/article/ten-myths-pastors-believe-about-prayer-part-2/