3 Observations on Praying Like Paul

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A leader must remain aware of his desperate need for God to help him and to guide him in his leadership role. One of the ways that we can stay aware of this desperate need is through a devotion to regular times of prayer. Prayer is the expression of our life’s dependence on God.

As someone who has been given the responsibility to lead other men and to help them in their obedience to Jesus and their overall spiritual development, I am often reminded of my own inadequacies for such a challenging task. It is humbling to admit this, but I often find myself trying to lead others with a mindset that believes if I study enough, learn enough and work hard enough, I can change people’s lives. The funny thing about that mindset is that personal experience continues to teach me that it’s not that simple and that I don’t have that kind of power. I can keep trying hard, but only God can transform hearts.

And so, a wise leader must acknowledge his own limitations and remain aware of his desperate need for God to help him and to guide him in his leadership role. And this means that one of the most valuable practices a leader can undertake is the practice of praying for those that you are responsible for leading.

So how exactly should we pray for those that we are leading?

Well, a good place to start is by reading and studying the four personal prayers of the apostle Paul that he describes in his own words in Ephesians 1, Ephesians 3, Philippians 1 and Colossians 1. In his oversight and responsibility towards these people, Paul writes to them and describes how he has been praying for them. These prayers tell us how we ought to pray, what we should ask for and why we should ask for it.

How We Should Pray

Paul mentions the frequency and posture of his prayers for the people that he is leading. He says that he bows his knees before the Father and that he does not cease to pray for these people. In the same way, we too should exhibit a posture that honors and respects God’s authority as King, and we should pray regularly for the people that we are trying to lead. This may or may not mean that we pray for them everyday, but it seems reasonable to say that we should be praying for them weekly or at least every-other-week.

What We Should Ask For

When you read all four of these prayers, it becomes strikingly clear what Paul wants the most for those that he is leading. He regularly asks God for an increase in their knowledge and wisdom. He refers to knowledge six different times in the four prayers and repeatedly uses words like discernment, wisdom, comprehension, understanding and enlightenment. Paul believes that the renewing of a person’s mind will fuel the renovation of their heart.

In the same way, we too should ask God to help those that we are leading to grow in their knowledge and understanding of God. We desperately need the Holy Spirit to flip the lights on in the hearts and minds of others so that they will have a better view of God and all that he does for us. We can be incredible teachers, but again only God can transform the human mind and lead people to live with the wisdom and discernment that he gives. We are trying to help people learn and embrace a new worldview and a new way of life, and that requires a powerful work of God that goes beyond what we can accomplish on our own.

Why We Should Ask For It

Paul’s focus in these prayers is on an increase in knowledge, but his goal is not that people will simply know more information about God. Paul wants people to gain a better knowledge of God because he knows that this will also give people the insight that they need to love one another better and to live in harmony with one another.

The goal here is that this increase in knowledge and love will cultivate a desire in us to pursue what is pure and right and good in every situation and therefore help us make better decisions in life where we do just that. The goal is that an increase in knowledge will help us live a new way of life where we make wise decisions that would truly bless others and honor God.

And so, in the same way, we too should ask God that the Holy Spirit would be such a strong influence in the lives of those that we are leading that it completely changes the way that they see the world around them and the way that they choose to live each and every day of their lives. We should ask God to help others better comprehend his love that is incomprehensible. Because as people begin to comprehend and experience and embrace the love that describes our God and as they become more aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives then they will increasingly find themselves becoming more and more like Jesus himself — which is the goal.


Prayer is the expression of our life’s dependence on God, and prayer is an essential element for those in a position of leadership. Paul was devoted to praying regularly for those that he was leading, and he gives us a very practical example of how we ought to be praying we well. And so, if we want to be wise leaders and faithful servants of God, it wouldn’t hurt if we studied these four prayers and started praying like Paul.

Let’s pray regularly for those that we are leading with a posture that honors God for who he is. Let’s ask God to enlighten their hearts and minds with knowledge of who he is and what he is doing in this world. And let’s ask God to strengthen them with his Spirit so that this increase in knowledge would transform their way of life and lead them to become more like Jesus himself.

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