The Mistake Pastors Make About Prayer

I’ve been around churches, ministries, and Christian conferences for most of my life, and I’ve had many awesome leaders in that time. One quality was pretty consistent among my leaders—dedication to prayer. They wanted to pray and they wanted us to pray. For that, I’m grateful.

However, there’s one fundamental mistake many of them made about prayer—they challenged us to pray without training us how to pray. And during certain seasons, they called us to pray even more, but didn’t help us to pray more.

The teaching about why we should pray wasn’t met with teaching about how to pray. We tackled the “why” of prayer without tackling the “how” of prayer.

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This is like telling your sixteen year-old daughter, “Just drive more” instead of first teaching her how to drive.

She won’t become a lifetime driver without instruction. Your teen doesn’t primarily need to hear all the good and sensible reasons why driving is a good idea—she needs to learn how to drive, and let that experience teach her why.

One day Jesus was praying while his disciples were nearby. When Jesus finished, one of them said, “LORD, teach us to pray.”

So Jesus began to teach them, “When you pray, say…” (Luke 11)

Did Jesus start with why they should pray? No, Jesus began with how to pray. The disciples had been around Jesus long enough to know that prayer was important, and at a disciple’s request, Jesus taught them how to pray.

Yes, we need a theology of prayer that emphasizes why we pray. But often leaders fall short in raising up praying people because they set a vision for prayer without setting a school for prayer. They challenge without equipping, they tell instead of train.

So when it comes to prayer, most leaders concentrate on the why and neglect the how, then they wonder why more people don’t attend their prayer meetings. But it’s time the how of prayer takes its place beside the why of prayer.

If you’re a pastor, I encourage you to put prayer training in place. I guarantee it’ll enhance the life of your church or ministry. If you’re part of a church or ministry, start requesting prayer training or seek your own out. If we approached the how of prayer, I think we’d all be grateful.

PS: If you’re looking for a practical way to train people in how to pray, check out Made To Pray: How To Find Your Best Prayer Types. Use promotional code howtopray to receive a discount.

PPS: I’m available to help your church or ministry move to the next level of prayer. Contact me to get the conversation going.

Chris believes we're all looking for purpose and joy at work. He's the Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc., where he helps employees to succeed. He's also a Certified Professional Life Coach and a Certified Gallup Strengths Coach. He loves to coach people, write, and speak around the topics of engagement, coaching, strengths, and growth. He blogs often at ChrisHeinz.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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