Christians often speak of the power of prayer. Many have experienced it firsthand. They have known the comfort of prayer in difficult times and experienced the guidance of prayer in moments of confusion. They have witnessed lives impacted and hearts changed through prayer.
Almost universally church leaders agree that prayer is a key component in the Christian life and the life of the church.
If all agree that prayer is important and powerful, why doesn’t prayer hold a more prominent place in most council meetings? Councils, of course, open meetings with prayer and typically end with prayer requests. That, however, lacks the central place our Almighty Heavenly Father deserves in meetings where we ponder direction, pastoral care, and other spiritual decisions for Christ’s church.
A wise pastor once said that a gathering without prayer is like having a business meeting without the CEO of the company. We can make our decisions but without the voice of the CEO councils will often head in a direction He would not have them go. No matter how much effort is invested and no matter how much time is dedicated to discussion of difficult topics it all means nothing without the CEO’s stamp of approval.
Consider this…most pastors don’t like critical congregational decisions made without their input. If that is how pastors feel how is it acceptable that councils make decisions without God’s input?
Here is an important practice to consider. What if councils spent a few moments in prayer over every important decision? When considering a new vision they should pause to pray. When considering the best pastoral care for a struggling member they should pause to pray. Simply stated, councils should invite God into every conversation. Councils should invite the Spirit to provide the direction they need. Leadership teams should invite Him to inspire, encourage, and motivate them to be the best leaders they can be.
There is a concern among some that taking time to pray will make council meetings significantly longer. If God’s voice in a conversation is a priority and councils believe in the power of prayer, that should not matter. The reality is, however, that many councils which have prioritized prayer have also discovered their meetings are shortened when members are unified through a shared nudge from the Holy Spirit. Discussions are shorter. Debate is less intense. When God, the CEO of the church, is invited into the conversation meetings are smoother and their impact is greater.
Here is a simple encouragement…be courageous and trust the power of prayer. Risk a slightly longer meeting and watch to see how God astounds through his power to transform the church.