ABC Header

SCHOOL OF PRAYER

by David Wells

For a life of prayer to remain fresh for a lifetime requires taking intentional steps to ensure personal development in prayer. Early on in ministry, I understood that I would need a steady flow of new input into my practice of prayer and the spiritual disciplines. For many years, every second or third book I have read is specifically on those topics.
The disciples’ appeal, “Lord teach us to pray,” is an expression of spiritual desire that has resonated in Christians’ hearts for centuries. With Christ in the School of Prayer exemplifies this.

Personally, “Lord, teach me to pray” has been more than a one-time request; but a life-long pursuit. Being with Jesus in His school of prayer has provided an ever deepening understanding of what the place and practice of prayer are to be in my life.

LEADERS AS EXAMPLES IN THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER
When I evaluate the development of my prayer life, I am grateful for the leaders who modelled the life of prayer and the resources that have broadened my life experience.

Many of us grew up singing “Read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” It was one thing to sing it, but it was something totally different for it to become my experience. Thankfully, the Lord graciously provided models who demonstrated and motivated a life of prayer for me. It is hard for me to think of the pastors of my youth and early ministry without thinking of them in the place of prayer.

• Pastor Al at the front of the church, Bible spread out on the platform, his voice resounding through the sanctuary as he prayed regarding what he’d just read.
• Pastor Peter leading our shared prayer times, whether early in the morning, midweek or Saturday evenings.
• Pastor Bob arriving at the church ahead of everyone, ensuring that the first activities of the day were worship, study and intercession.

As one who longs to follow their example and the example of our Lord, I came to recognize that I have the privilege and responsibility to act as a catalyst for those I lead to grow in their life of intimacy with their Father. This is not necessarily an easy assignment to fulfil. Other responsibilities such as studying to speak, meeting attendance and prep, appointments, and a plethora of other tasks all seem more pressing than leading and teaching His people to pray. Yet that is clearly the biblical call lived out not only by Jesus, but also clearly seen in Paul’s life and writings. Paul’s prayers and instruction on prayer are a rich example for us. Clearly, the practice to be learned is how to integrate prayer into all that we do as leaders so that prayer is as natural as any other activity we participate in with others.

STAYING FRESH IN THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER

For a life of prayer to remain fresh for a lifetime requires taking intentional steps to ensure personal development in prayer. Early on in ministry, I understood that I would need a steady flow of new input into my practice of prayer and the spiritual disciplines. For many years, every second or third book I have read is specifically on those topics.
The writings of Bounds, Foster, Murray, Willard, Nouwen, Gee, Eastman and multiple others have fuelled my passion and instructed my practice of worship, intercession, solitude, study, meditation, listening and other disciplines. Of course, I have so much further yet to go, so the reading and application continue. As a result, I pray that nuggets of spiritual vitality will spill over into the lives of those I engage every day.

CREATIVITY IN THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER

Creativity in prayer is not something a leader employs in order to be faddish or current. It is a sacred trust we have been given to introduce others to the breadth of spiritual disciplines the Lord uses as invitations to abide in Him. A sobering thought to me is: if I am personally static in responding to His varied invitations, then I offer to those I serve a truncated view of our Lord as well. Our personal and corporate life in Christ is enhanced by being a spiritual leader who intentionally and creatively seeks Him.

I believe we understand this principle in our significant human relationships. For 36 years I have loved sitting down at a meal with Susan (usually one she has prepared!) and enjoying stimulating, far-reaching conversations with her, our kids and whomever is at our table. Comprehension of the qualities I love about her has been deepened in conversations at the table. But mealtime conversations alone would make for a very one dimensional (and chubby) relationship. I have grown in my loving relationship with Susan in many other contexts that range from picking up walnuts off the lawn, to sitting quietly in a cathedral, or walking along the path in the bog. We have heard each other speak and pray and laugh and weep … you get the picture.

Significant relationship with our heavenly Father is not one-dimensional. It is not fostered solely by kneeling at a chair and pleading with Him for a few minutes. We have the privilege of modelling and leading people into the breadth and depth of relationship with our Creator. Creatively He develops within us an ability to keep in step with the Spirit as we lead in group prayer, prophetically intercede at an altar, pause during a committee meeting for intercession, or welcome a time of corporate listening to God. When, with no pretence or staging, words of praise for God or prayer for the sick are a natural part of our day, people gain comprehension of what it means to ”pray without ceasing.”

As spiritual leaders it is not an option; we are models and instructors in the School of Prayer. Houses of prayer He called for; houses of prayer we will be. It is only as we are faithful to this call that God’s people will be drawn to a depth of relationship and spiritual comprehension that goes far deeper than “Now I lay me down to sleep …”
Stacks Image 658
DAVID WELLS—is the General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
Stacks Image 17