When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD… Numbers 11:2 (NIV)
Why is prayer often the great omission when it comes to discussion of spiritual leadership? In my humble estimation the topic of leadership is the most frequent focus of conferences, seminars, podcasts, magazine articles and books in the church world today! It is understandable because church leaders are looking for keys to making their ministries more effective and fruitful. As I scan the plethora of spiritual leadership resources however, I find very little if any devoted to or directed at the role of prayer.
It is a curiosity and makes me wonder “Why?” It could go without saying but all the great leaders in the Bible were first and foremost men and women of prayer. Their leadership calling, equipping and effectiveness were directly dependent upon their relationship and communication with God. Moses is an excellent case in point. His leadership task was one of the most challenging ever given a man. His assignment was to deliver millions of people out of oppressive captivity, transform them into a God-centered culture and position them as a mighty army to conquer a foreign land.
Moses secret to success was not based upon his knowledge and application of leadership principles. It was based upon his knowledge of God found in the secret place. Prayer was the integral, defining characteristic of Moses leadership from the burning bush to Mount Nebo. His confrontations with Pharaoh were punctuated with prayer and every ensuing crisis throughout the Exodus was resolved through prayer. Moses frequently fell on his face before God to cast his burdens, seek God’s directive wisdom and/or intercede on behalf of Israel’s wayward and rebellious ways. (Numbers 14:5, 16:4) Among other things the defeat of Amalek was directly attributable to his prayers as was the Israel’s salvation from God’s annihilation as a result of their worship of the golden calf. (Exodus 17, 32-34)
All of Moses’ leadership decisions came out of the place of prayer. Let me say it again. All of Moses’ leadership decisions came in prayer! Prayer was also the basis upon which David, Nehemiah, Daniel, the apostles and most notably Jesus all made their key leadership decisions.
In summary then it could be said that the basis or foundation of spiritual leadership is prayer, nothing less, nothing more.