Aug 14, 2017


Pray First

David Worcester provides a great reminder that great leadership is borne of a heart inclined to seek first God’s wisdom and guidance in prayer.

As I’ve been reading the Bible recently a theme has been striking me. It became especially obvious when I was reading about the life of King David.

David prayed first.

If David had a big decision to make, he asked God what he should do. Then God would give him specific direction about when to go to battle and when not to. David asked God where he should go, and God directed him. When David was faithful to ask God for direction, God gave him the wisdom he needed.

In contrast, David’s predecessor Saul met his death because he didn’t consult the Lord.

“Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)

David succeeded where Saul failed. If we are trying to do work for God, we should always start by asking Him what He wants done.

Henry Blackaby summarized prayer-driven ministry as, “Finding where God is working, and joining him there.” The primary way we discern where God is working is prayer.

I haven’t always done this. I will often get a good idea and forget to check and see if it’s a ‘God’ idea. I have led our team into events and projects that didn’t move the mission forward and wasted time and resources. What about you?

Do you “inquire of the Lord” before making ministry plans?

Many of us see prayer as a last resort when things are going bad.

In football, a “Hail Mary” is when there is no time left and a team is “throwing up a prayer” in hope to get a lucky catch in the end-zone. This is how most of us view prayer. When we can’t handle a situation on our own, then we turn to God in prayer.

Prayer should be our first response; not our last resort.

Any time we have a decision or a problem come up, prayer should be the first thing we do.

And I’m not just talking about opening and closing a meeting with prayer. I’m guilty of this, too. I have tried to cut the phrase “let’s pray real quick” out of my vocabulary, because prayer deserves unhurried time in our lives.

How can we as leaders cultivate a lifestyle of praying first in our lives and ministries?

Like King David, we need to develop an intimate relationship with God personally. Prayer in times of decision was a natural response for David because he enjoyed deep fellowship with God on a regular basis.

In contrast, we don’t see David praying before taking the costly census that brought a deadly curse on Israel. And I’m pretty sure David didn’t pray about if it was right for him to commit adultery with Bathsheba either. These decisions cost many people dearly.

The greater the influence we have, the more important it is for us to get our decisions right.

Jesus prayed first, too. Before choosing the 12 apostles he spent all night in prayer, and He made it a regular habit of getting away to be alone with the Father.

In addition to cultivating an intimate personal prayer life, prioritize prayer in your planning meetings. I know at the start of fall and spring there is a lot to plan and a ton of details to discuss, but I have found that those things go more smoothly when the process is bathed in prayer.

Another way to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer in your team is to pray regularly for your people. This is something I haven’t done well at. My twin brother Paul has challenged me in this area. He told me that on his daily prayer list he has the names of every one of his staff and approximately 40 student leaders. I believe that as you pray for your people, God will also give wisdom on how you can help spur them on toward love and good deeds; it will also give you wisdom for what the group needs as a whole.

The prophet Samuel gives us a great example of a leader who prioritized prayer. “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

Real spiritual leaders lead with prayer.

Have you been faithful to pray for the people God has given you?

Have you been seeking God about big and small decisions in your ministry?

I believe that when a leader gets serious about their calling to pray, God will begin to do things that cannot be explained apart from God answering those prayers.

Take a few minutes and PRAY RIGHT NOW that God would make you a man or woman of prayer. Pray first, and see what God will do!


about the author

David Worcester

David Worcester is the Lead Pastor Compass Church in the San Diego State area. In addition to leading his church he blogs and speaks about college ministry, gospel appointments, and evangelism. David is married to Jessica Worcester whom he fell in love with while doing college ministry together and they have a two sons, Samuel and Joshua. David graduated from from the University of Oklahoma (OU) with a degree in Film & Video Studies and received a Masters in Theological Studies from Gateway Seminary. He enjoys talking ministry with his twin brother Paul Worcester, father John Worcester and two other brothers doing collegiate planting in a closed country.