A Healthy Leader’s Prayer Life Starts with Humility

woman in prayer

Everywhere they went, Maria and Jessica prayed. I had partnered with these 2 young Brazilian women for church planting in Bolivia. When getting in the car, these women stopped to pray. When making visits, they prayed. If someone was sick, Maria and Jessica’s first inclination was to pray. Their prayers were long, they made us late, and sometimes they made me tired with the crazy mix of Spanish and Portuguese! Thus began my initiation in the worldwide school of prayer.

I had been taught how to pray from childhood, and that had seemed enough. However, as I walked with people from all cultures, I found out that I had just begun my journey. Healthy prayer has to start with humility. Yes, we have a lot to learn from God and Scripture, but we have a lot to learn from each other too.

The Brazilians taught me to start with prayer and go to God first before seeking solutions from people. The Bolivians taught me about all-night prayer, although I more closely resembled Eutychus than Paul (see Acts 20:7–12). And I was prayed over many times when prayer hadn’t even occurred to me. I was schooled in prayer.

South Asia held more lessons in prayer. Spirituality is not hidden in South Asian countries. Prayers and worship happen at all hours and in all places. I observed my South Asian friends and their prayer practices. Many believing friends covered their heads when praying. I began to tuck a scarf in my bag when I went to visit. What began as a bother for me became a way to join my Christian sisters in their display of humility before God. I saw them hold out open palms and as I joined them, I felt the change in my attitude to one of openness to God.

The call to prayer that rang out from the mosques began to be my personal call to prayer. Rather than being annoyed by the noise, I listened and prayed my neighbors would learn to pray to the one true God. There is nothing but gain in being reminded to pray 5 times a day!

The bells in the Hindu temples reminded me to pray for those who feel the need to get their gods’ attention before saying their prayers. When I saw incense burning in front of an idol at a business, I would pray to Jesus for the business and the owners, knowing that the idol did not hear their prayers.

The shrines in front of Buddhist homes reminded me to pray for those inside the homes. I would pray for the young Buddhist monks as they did their morning rounds through the neighborhoods.

Take a look around today. What calls you to prayer? What can you learn from your neighbors today to move you closer to a life of praying without ceasing
(1 Thess. 5:17)?

Danette High is an International Mission Board missionary emerita, the editor of Missions Mosaic, and the main presenter of the CWLC course Follower Skills.


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