Influence Building Through Prayer

READING REPORT

of

Dave Earley,

Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of

High-Impact Leaders

DSMN 520 D03  LUO (Fall 2013)

Spiritual Formation

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

Rick Mangrum (ID#21757355)

November 3, 2013


INTRODUCTION

            This is a reading report is on Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders by Dave Earley.  Earley is a prolific writer, teacher and founder of a successful church.[1]  This is one of several books he has written on prayer.  The thesis in this work is that “the common denominator of great spiritual leaders throughout the ages involves a focus on prayer” and that “prayer is the determining factor for maximum spiritual impact.”[2]

            Earley studied the lives and work of many Christian leaders both biblical and modern.  Among them were Abraham, Daniel, John, Moses and Jesus from biblical times as well as Henry Blackaby, John Calvin, Jerry Falwell, C.S. Lewis and A.W. Tozer from modern times.[3]  This book is a summary of his observations of the impact of prayer on their lives and work along with a systematic method for developing and maximizing the impact of prayer in the life of his reader.  A summary of the book will now be presented.

SUMMARY

            “Leadership is influence.”[4]  Earley’s position throughout the work is that a good leader uses all the tools at his or her disposal to successfully influence those around them.  Prayer is presented as “one of the most powerful ways to influence others.”[5]  His study of strong leaders has discovered that prayer is a common factor in all strong leaders and that there is a model or method of developing prayer that is the most effective.

            Earley presents his model for maximizing prayer in ten parts.  The first nine illustrate his “prayer disciplines of high-impact spiritual leaders,” nine common practices in the lives of those he studied.[6]  The tenth chapter is a checklist or worksheet method of applying the nine disciplines presented.  The nine steps flow and support each other on a path to prayer success.

            The first step is to recognize and appreciate the power of prayer.  It is not just something all good believers do; it is the most powerful tool in the toolbox of successful spiritual leadership.  Just as disciplined prayer is a common factor is successful leaders, Earley also holds the position that the lack of prayer among most spiritual leaders is a reason for their discouragement and lack of success in many cases.  Without the full use of all possible resources, spiritual leaders are destined to fail or worse, be mediocre.  Since “Christian leadership is spiritual work”, it must be based on “spiritual tools.”[7]  Prayer is both a tool and a necessary task.  And, according to Earley “prayer is the most important task” of Christian leaders.[8]

            Step two is to set aside time to prayer on a consistent and disciplined basis.  Using Jesus as the guide for all things illustrates the need for this step, after recognizing the power of prayer.  Jesus prayed every day, early in the morning.  He did so “very early in the morning, while it was still dark.”[9]  (Mark 1:35)  It was the first task of each day.  He prayed more than once a day, often at the end of the day.[10]  (Mark 6:46)   He started and ended most days in prayer.  His method was consistent and disciplined.

            Third is to pray for those that you seek to serve.   When practicing consistent and disciplined pray, recognizing the power of this spiritual tool, target first in your prayers those you seek to help.  This has strong Old and New Testament support.  From Moses prayers for his people to the illustration of Jesus praying for his disciples, Scripture is full of examples of great leaders praying for those they seek to serve.[11]  (Numbers 21:7, John 17:9)  The best leaders not only pray for those they serve but they “elevate their followers over themselves” in their prayers.[12]

            The fourth and fifth steps go hand in hand.  First is to ask and train those around you to pray for you consistently and to work to turn your challenges in life into prayers, not just problems.  If one develops a network of strong believers who pray for them consistently, when problems arise, the believer can not only raise those issues in prayer personally but use their support network as well.  Paul, considered by many to be “one of the most influential leaders in history” modeled this behavior for us many times.[13]  He recognized his need for prayer and used the widest possible network to raise those prayers.  Charles Spurgeon, possibly one of the greatest leaders of modern times attributed his personal success to the fact that “my people pray for me.”[14]  Communicating your problems to those in your prayer network is a natural extension of creating that network.  Of course, you also personally pray about your problems.

            The sixth step is fasting along with prayer.   Earley details a comprehensive list of fasting examples both biblical and modern.  From Moses to Augustine to Billy Graham, fasting has been used as a means to help build the spiritual life of a leader.[15]  Twenty biblical examples are referenced where fasting was used to hold back God’s judgment, bring an answer to prayer, gain God’s protection or obtain the “powerful aid” of God in a trying situation.[16]  Fasting is often associated with prayer in asking God for help, understanding or rescue.

            Being bold about your prayers is the seventh step in maximizing your prayer life and developing as a spiritual leader.  To pray specifically and boldly claim the promises of God are the keys to this process.    The Bible tells of many promises of God, 7,487 promises to be exact.[17]  “Ask and it will be given unto you.”   (Mathew 7:7)  After developing your prayer life, boldly asking God for your needs and wants is a logical next step.  Jesus was specific and precise in many of his prayers.[18] We should be the same, boldly claiming his promises.

            The eighth step is building on the basics of prayer.  We have a model to follow in the Lord’s Prayer given to us in Matthew 6.  Jesus gave us this short and simple prayer as a basic model for all others.  Early also encourages the use of the ACTS acrostic to help remember to pray with adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.  Earley encourages the use of thanksgiving first in prayers.[19]  Start your prayers with the basic model is the message.

            The last step is to consider adopting best practices discovered in Earley’s research on this subject.  Some are biblically based and some based on the writings and lives of great leaders examined.  Praying without ceasing, taking personal prayer retreats and praying the scriptures are a few of the best practices suggested.[20]

            Earley’s nine steps are a collection of biblical and modern examples of success, referencing great spiritual leaders from Moses to Billy Graham.  Each of the nine steps has biblical references and modern literary support.  Pulling the nine steps together in a checklist format is the final chapter of this work is a simple, method of applying his nine steps to personal development.  A short critique of Earley’s work will now be presented.

CRITIQUE

            Earley’s writing style is simple and straightforward.  He presents the subject logically along with a plan that builds from the beginning to the end.  While the nine steps are not presented in a way that requires they be followed one after the other in the order in which they are presented, that order is appealing for the reader seeking to start easy and gradually work on more difficult aspects of the subject.

            Earley’s method of mixing biblical and modern examples is also very effective.  It is difficult for even the most casual Christian to deny the effectiveness of Moses, David, John, Charles Spurgeon or Billy Graham as influential leaders.  This does lead to a fault of the work.  It lacks explanation of the method used in Earley’s study.  It also lacks a comprehensive index of leaders studied and the suggested application of specific prayer practices of each leader discovered in his study.  These criticisms do not illustrate a shortcoming in the work as much as they show  curiosity and desire to understand more generated by the book.

            Overall, a book to be recommended to anyone serious about not only the development of influential spiritual leadership but also personal spiritual development.  Earley’s work is a simple, yet well supported and comprehensive guide to the development of the subject.  This is a great gift for any Christian.

APPLICATION

            The application of this work is simple:  start with step one.  It easily drew me into not only the subject and illustrations presented but also quickly into self-appraisal.  In my first spiritual growth plan for the class I listed prayer and Bible study as the primary subjects.  I have always felt drawn to more fully develop both of those disciplines.  My work at Liberty is in part an extension of my desire to more fully study and understand the Bible.  After complete Earley’s book, I am persuaded to spend more time in prayer.  I have always understood the power of prayer generally and known I needed to make more time for it, but Earley is very convincing that by not fully engaging in prayer, I am in a way telling God I don’t believe in the power of prayer. That is painful to realize but factual.  I vow to do better, to move past the first two basic steps and into praying for those I work to serve at church, home and work.  This is much more to do now that I have learned that a clear path to success exists and is so attainable.

            The timing of this study is perfect for my personal situation.  I am three to five years from corporate retirement.  Prayerful consideration of my next steps is in order.  In many ways the decisions of how to spend my next years are more important than those I made early in my life.  I want it all to end well!  Powerful, effective prayer is a tool I need in my toolbox.  I’ve always needed it for sure.  Not I appreciate it much more.

CONCLUSION

 

            The most successful and influential spiritual leaders in our society, from biblical to modern times have used prayer as one of the primary tools in the development of their spiritual maturity.  That is a model to follow.  Earley’s work is educating and convincing.  Reading this work should come early in the spiritual development of any Christian.

            The steps presented for developing a power prayer life are well supported and easy to understand.  All that is lacking is the commitment of the ready to personal development.  Especially interesting to this reader are the references to modern leaders such as Spurgeon and Graham.  Further study of the lives of these two men and the place of prayer in their personal development is this student’s next step

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 Earley, Dave, Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High Impact Leaders, Chattanooga, TN:                  Living Ink Books, 2008.



[1] Dave Earley, Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders, (Chattanooga, TN:  Living Ink Books, 2008), bc.

[2]Ibid.

[3] Earley, Ibid 180-182.

[4] Earley, Ibid x.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Earley, Ibid xiii.

[7] Earley, Ibid 2.

[8] Earley, Ibid 2.

[9] Earley, Ibid 19.

[10] Earley, Ibid 23.

[11] Earley, Ibid 33-34.

[12] Earley, Ibid 36.

[13] Earley, Ibid 54.

[14] Earley, Ibid 63.

[15] Earley, Ibid 91-93.

[16] Earley, Ibid 95-97.

[17] Earley, Ibid 116.

[18] Earley,  Ibid 118.

[19] Earley, Ibid 130.

[20] Earley, Ibid 153-163.

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