Prayer for productivity

Last week I wrote about how a Christian’s approach to productivity should be radically different from the world’s. Indeed, our productivity should be distinctly Christian. And when I think about things that are available to the Christian that would enable us to more efficiently fulfill our purpose, prayer is the first which jumps to mind. One distinctly Christian productivity method is prayer.

Prayer is a vital component to a thriving Christian life. It is a means of our sanctification, fellowship with God, expression of love for our fellow believers, an opportunity for worship, and a conduit for God’s blessings.

But if that’s not enough to get you to pray more, allow me to propose one more benefit of prayer. Christian prayer offers a profound advantage in the fight to accomplish all that a pastor must do in a week. 

Here are three truths about prayer that should encourage you to pray more as a pastor.Prayer is Supremely Necessary

In sermon prep, do you ever get 15-20 minutes into studying a passage and realize you forgot to pray?

Sir, are you insane?

But it happens. Doesn’t it?

And how many days do we forget to draw near to the Lord in the morning, or ask for His wisdom before a discipleship appointment, or request discernment as we read the daily news? How foolish of us.

For pastors—and for any Christian—prayer is not just a nice-to-have, it is a necessity.

Ministry is a spiritual task that is not possible apart from God’s aid. So, we must pray for that help. Prayer is supremely necessary for productivity because God uses it to give us power, motivation, wisdom, and focus, for the many tasks we undertake.

But prayer is also supremely necessary for the sake of God’s glory. Because if we see seemingly great things done through our ministries—a knockout sermon, a thriving church, or an edifying men’s breakfast—if we accomplish those things apart from deliberate reliance on Christ’s power, those accomplishments are hollow. Why? Because when we do things in our own strength they serve only to glorify us (our ability, our knowledge, our charisma) and not God. But when we are plainly and even publically reliant upon God in prayer, He alone gets the glory.

Prayer is Supernaturally Beneficial

The last several years have seen the rise in popularity on what has been called “mindfulness.” It’s basically a secular alternative to prayer where you just sit and think about your feet and stuff. Maybe it calms you down and makes you more present in the moment or something, but it has no external force behind it. It has no supernatural power (at least not a good supernatural power). But prayer does.

prayer for productivity

Do you ever stop and think about it?

We have the ability to call on the aid of the Almighty sustainer of the universe. I’d say that beats even the most mindful meditation sesh you could dream up, yogi. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16).

We may share the benefits of Pomodoros and mindmaps with unbelievers, but in prayer, we have something they do not have. We have distinctly Christian productivity which is supernaturally beneficial.

Prayer is a Superior Use of Time

Though we would never say it out loud, we often feel that we are too busy to pray. But the truth is that we are too busy not to pray.

You think, I’ve got this many appointments, I need to take the car in, and on top of all that I need to finish this sermon before Sunday. But Michael Fabarez points out in his book Preaching That Changes Lives, “The urgency of sermon deadlines should not lure us away from our time of prayer, but rather to it.”

Consider again what prayer is, you are calling upon the Maker. So, the next time you catch yourself going down this path mentally, “I need to skip prayer this morning because I need to get in early so I can start preparing for that meeting and I have a dentist appointment that’s going to throw the whole day off. . .” Slow down, Rev!

You’ve got a packed schedule, but the answer is not to skip time with the Lord. Reschedule the dentist appointment or just face the consequences of not being prepared for that meeting.

And guess what.

God may enable you to accomplish all of those tasks in a shorter period of time that it normally takes you to do them as a result of you being faithful to put time with Him ahead of other matters. Oh yeah, because He literally invented time (imagine a cool hourglass .gif here with like stars and galaxies behind it).

Just be faithful to fence off time for prayer and trust that you will be able to get done just what God has for you to do today.

Conclusion

Pastor, God has given you such a boon for your productivity in the gift of prayer. Do not neglect this distinctly Christian form of productivity for the sake of mere earthly tricks and tips, because prayer is supremely necessary, supernaturally beneficial, and a superior use of time.

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer”

—Martin Luther

www.redeemingproductivity.com

Prayer—you either yearn for the connection, or you struggle with your relationship with God. It is just as important to set the tone and place of our prayer life, as it is our hearts. The prophets and early apostles and those before us in the faith, were of a generation that understood holiness, and also revered God for who He was, is, and always will be. They lived in turmoil, desperation, persecution, and martyrdom, and through it they displayed character and integrity with their prayer life.

The Scriptures show us men like Daniel, who when forced by decree to not pray, revealed to humanity that his faith in God was greater than any human law (Dan 6:10). The Apostles did the same, praying in the same Temple, day after day, with those who put Christ to death (Acts 3:1). And now, it seems, that it is not the time of our fathers, but it is the time of our generation. We are now on the world stage, exposed to the depths of darkness and despair, displaying what it means to be salt and light—to be slaughtered, and yet, remain steadfast as conquering sheep (Rom 8:37)—victorious in Christ.

Without prayer, our generation will surely be faced with the onslaught of evil and human depravity all alone—our brothers and sisters need to know that we stand in unity—we will pray for their suffering.

So, let’s delve into three ways to assist you in a productive and powerful prayer life.

Quiet Spaces

Sometimes we neglect the productivity of being in silence. Assuredly, as followers of Christ, we are heard in any time or place, but it is interesting that Jesus said to find your “prayer closet” (Matt 6:6); a safe haven away from the world and away from displaying our prideful hearts for others to see. While the context of Matthew 6:6 is pride, we can certainly apply it to the example of Christ, “He went up on the mountain by himself to pray” (Matt 14: 23). Find your quiet space, a place where you and God can connect with no distractions. And then remember why you are there—to lay before the King of Creation the needs of a needy people and a heart that wants to serve Him.

Kneeling in Prayer.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father.” ~ (Eph 3:14 ESV)

I was once asked by my daughter, who was 10 years old at the time, “Daddy, why do we have to kneel when we pray?” I remember the conversation vividly, and still adhere to what I answered back then—it’s out of holy reverence. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, he expressed how he was called out of the dark depths of bondage and into the light of Christ’s kingdom to preach the gospel—“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power” (Eph 3:7 ESV), but Paul also suffered for the gospel. “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory” (Eph 3:13 ESV).

There is power on your knees, but as Abraham Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” Paul was kneeling before God to pray for his brothers and sisters. When we come into the holy presence of God, which we have been given access to share in His holiness (Heb 12:10), we do so with a heart rendered in reverence and with the purity of Christ. For this reason, Paul explains that his routine was to kneel in prayer. It is common knowledge that James the Apostle, the half-brother of Jesus, was known as “camel knees” for his constant kneeling on the hard marble, in prayer. While, perhaps, God does not hear us better one way or the other, it does show a heart that understands holiness and a healthy fear of being created. Before you begin your prayer, make sure your posture is right—a humble servant heart bows before a King.

Language

God does not hear us because of our words or our lengthy prayers; however, God does hear our language. We can display our language through either silence or speech. If in speech, just make your words, honest and simple—out of your own heart. Although, sometimes just being in the presence of God is good enough. Once we’re in a state of hearing God—that’s when the beauty of His majesty reigns in our hearts. We expose the nakedness of our soul and allow Him to work within the depths of our nether regions. Sometimes it is better to be without words, as Paul stated, “For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (2 Cor 5:2 ESV). The groanings of our heart display to a loving Creator that we yearn for His presence and His divine will. Groaning is a language. It is a language of the heart—illustrating desperate times and vulnerability. We ought to listen to our soul that longs to connect with God’s Holy Spirit. So, whether in silence or speech, keep your language focused on Christ and your heart will follow.

In all things, remember the saints in your prayers, place them first before the Almighty and note that one day—it may be you. Amen.

Guthrie, Donald. (1975) The Apostles, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 134.

j31.org

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