Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

August 2001
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He Taught His Leaders To Pray

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

In this Letter we continue to study how Jesus built His leaders.

3. Jesus taught His leaders to pray.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say…” (Luke 11:1-2)

Jesus not only prayed Himself but He taught His disciples to pray also. Jesus not only knew God Himself but He led His disciples to know the Father also.

John the Baptist also built his leaders the same way: he taught them to pray. This is one of the first responsibilities of a leader who is building another: he must lead him to know God.

Few people will find God in a deep way by themselves. This is true even of emerging leaders. Few leaders will learn to pray by themselves. They need to be taught.

They need to be taught not only how to pray, but how to live in continual inward union with God. As Jesus lived in continual fellowship with His Father, He revealed and modeled that life to the leaders He was building:

If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father… (John 14:7-9)

Both from Jesus’ life and from His teaching, His new leaders learned to know the Father. They learned to pray. They learned to live in continual fellowship with God. They learned to trust God, to rely on Him in all situations. They learned to talk to God, to share with Him their deepest questions and struggles. They learned to look to God for everything – for the provision of all their needs, for the answers to all their questions. They learned to live in His presence. They learned to know God. Jesus taught them this.

In saying this we again draw a vast contrast with our modern methods of building leaders. Little, if any, attention is usually given to this great endeavor. Little time is devoted to teaching our new leaders to pray. Certainly we are busy to teach them about prayer but do we teach them to pray? There is no lack of courses and books about prayer today, but we must give our new leaders more: we must teach them actually to pray, we must teach them actually to know God and not only to know some facts about Him.

Those who Jesus built as leaders went on to do it the same way with the leaders they built:

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

John, the apostle, says the entire purpose of him sharing his message was to bring people into the experience of fellowship with God.

The primary characteristic of an effective Christian leader is that he knows God and that he lives and ministers out of his inward union with God. And our primary responsibility in building new leaders is to see that they know God – we must teach them to pray.

In our next Letter, we will examine the fact that Jesus formed His leaders personally. He called them first to be “with Him.”

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