Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, “Lord of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.” 1 Samuel 1:10-11
Hannah simply amazes me. Here was a woman who could not have any children—which was quite a stigma in her day—and it understandably devastated her. To make matters worse, one of her husband’s other wives delighted in mocking her because of her barrenness. (Quick aside: God never permitted polygamy and every time we see it practiced in the Old Testament, it causes trouble.)
Hannah was in such pain because of her inability to have children that she went to the temple and poured out her heart to God with such an intensity that Eli the priest thought she was drunk. But it is the subject of Hannah’s prayer more than her fervency that amazes me.
If God were to give Hannah a son, she would give him back to God. And that is what happened. God gave Hannah Samuel, and she took him to the temple to serve there once he was weaned. Hannah gave God one of her heart’s greatest desires.
Hannah was a godly woman because she was a woman of prayer and Hannah was a woman of prayer because she was a godly woman. Pray fuels intimacy with God and intimacy with God fuels prayer in a beautiful symbiotic relationship.
Our leadership thrives in direct proportion to the health of our relationship with Christ. And as we learn from Hannah, prayer is a vital component of that relationship. Here are five leadership lessons on how we can thrive through prayer:
- Pray regularly. The fuel of any relationship is communication, and a relationship with Jesus is no different. Praying regularly is vital. Having a set time to pray each day is a great start, but think of ways that you can pray more throughout your day such as when you are driving, when you are brushing your teeth, and when you are waiting in lines. Prayer can turn these rather mundane times into refreshing times with God.
- Read Scripture first. When possible, preface your time of prayer by reading Scripture. Scripture will help you focus your time of prayer properly. Instead of praying through a man-centered lens of what you want from God, spending time in the Bible first will reorient your heart and mind to want to pursue God’s glory in your prayer.
- Don’t confine yourself to a formula. There are several outlines designed to ensure you pray in a well-rounded way. While these can be helpful to keep in mind, do not limit yourself by them. Structure can sometimes lead to a wooden, formulaic prayer life and can hinder its authenticity. There will be times when you will simply want to pray thanking God for who He is. There may be other times when you will need to pray just confessing sin to God.
- Be transparent with God. Following up to the previous lesson, strive for your prayer to be transparent. Be real with God. It’s not like you can fool Him anyway! If you are upset like Hannah, share that. If you are confused, angry, happy, worried, frustrated, or whatever else, let God know.
- Pray for others. Enjoying a vibrant prayer life and deepening your relationship with Christ will greatly grow you as a leader alone. But it is when you also pray meaningfully for your kids, kids leaders, parents, and other church leaders that your leadership will grow to the next level. Develop the habit of asking others how you can pray for them and doing it.
Brian Dembowczyk is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to LifeWay. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.