INTRODUCTION

Prayer is something that sounds ominous to many people.  Some people think that it requires a great amount of theological training, but in reality it does not.  Prayer is essential to one’s relationship with God.  Without prayer the relationship is struggling.  It is no different than a couple who is married and only one does the communicating.  Sooner or later the relationship will wither, and in this case it us who are to blame.  Prayer is defined as “Dialogue between God and people.  Prayer will lead to greater communion with God and a greater understanding of His will[1].”

A greater communion with God and a greater understanding of His will is something that every believer should be striving for.  It has been the goal of every Christian since Biblical times and the early church, but for some reason we struggle in modern times.  1 Thessalonians 5:17, states “Keep on praying[2].”  Other translations say “Pray without ceasing.”  Prayer is the lifeline to an effective Christian life, and Dr. Earley strives to point out ways in which we can improve on this area of our Christian walk.  As Christian leaders we have developed some bad habits over the years, and Dr. Earley’s work “Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders shows us how to break those habits.

                                    SUMMARY

What is the key to leadership?  If this question was asked to America’s top leaders we will get many answers, but one that may not be on the list is prayer.  One of the “Most powerful ways to influence others spiritually is through prayer.  Therefore, to lead effectively by influencing others for God, Christian leaders must pray[3].”

There were some surveys taken about Christian Leaders and prayer.  One survey revealed the average pastor prays seven minutes per day.  Another said that 80% of pastors pray fifteen minutes per day[4].  Very few churches are growing, in fact many are declining in size, many pastors are discouraged and some have taken their lives.  Dr. Ealey poses an interesting question to all of this.  Could it be because of a lack of prayer?  In my own life I have used the excuse that I do not have enough time to pray, but Dr. Earley points out that we do not have time because we do not pray.  Prayer saves time.  God is able to do much more in one second then we could do in a week.  To say we don’t have time to pray is to not understand it.

Prayer is our greatest spiritual weapon and nothing ministry wise can be done without prayer.  This is why we must make time to pray.  Dr. Earley stresses the importance of making an appointment with God and keeping it.  He states in chapter two, “I have learned that if I don’t pray first thing in the morning, I often don’t get to it.  I have learned that if I start my day off in prayer, the rest of the day always goes better[5].”

We all have busy lives, and they are too busy not to make time for prayer.  Prayer is a source of spiritual strength.  It is a place where we can go to spend time with our creator, and join into communion with Him.

In Chapter three Dr. Earley outlines the importance of praying for others.  Dr. Earley states, “God gives us a burden, a holy concern, for those we are called to lead[6].”  If we are not praying for those entrusted to us do we really care?  By praying for them we are not only interceding, but we are building a servant’s heart.  In chapter four Dr. Earley also states the importance of having others pray us.  We need prayer.  When we are leading others it is no time to put on a front and pretend that everything is ok.  Those you are leading will love you more and being honest with them.  The enemy is always attacking those who lead the flock of God.  Prayer is the ultimate weapon to repel him.

In chapter five Dr. Earley states, “Each month over two thousand pastors quit the ministry never to return[7].”  Burnout is a real issue and it effects those in ministry just as those in business.  It is important to practice spiritual stewardship in this regard.  As a leader it is very tempting to take the problems of those around you and make them your own.  This temptation must be avoided and the problems of everyone must be taken to God in prayer.  Whenever we feel the pressure of the world coming around us it is a good time to pray.  Prayer helps us focus our mind and focus on what is really important.  As 1 Peter 5:7 says, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you[8].”

Chapter six is a chapter devoted to the importance of fasting in the prayer life of a spiritual leader.  There are different types of fasting.  One can skip food for a day, one meal, or not doing certain activities.  Dr. Earley then lists twenty significant passages of scripture on the subject of fasting, and the benefits from it.  It is quite the impressive list, and is argument alone to implement the practice.  For those of us who have never fasted Dr. Earley provides a preparation list later in the chapter which is very beneficial.

In Chapter seven Dr. Earley tells us, “High-Impact leaders pray differently than common folks.  They pray with greater boldness.  They come to God with confident courage[9].”  There are several promises in the Bible.  Out of the 7,478 promises many are a promise to answer prayer.  We must be confident when we pray.  When we pray for the lost we must be confident that God will bring that to pass.  If we are not confident we are telling God that we do not have the faith that it will happen.  We must be confident as we approach our Lord in prayer.

Just as we have different personalities there are different types of prayers.  God made us with a personality, and he wants us to use.  In Chapter eight it is recommended that we use different prayer styles when we pray.  This also has the effect of keeping our minds fresh and focused on prayer over the long term.  One model is the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus laid out for us.  It is a good blend of praise, petition, and confession[10].  The next model is the A.C.T.S model which stands for Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.  These models are good to ensure that was are balanced in our prayer life.

In Chapter nine Dr, Earley discusses the importance of adopting best practices.  There are many heroes of the faith who had fantastic prayer lives.  We should set out to model what they did so we may benefit from their expertise.  The Apostle Paul, Charles Spurgeon, and George Mueller had prayer lives that can be emulated.  We also have the example of Christ who would regularly go of by himself on a quiet retreat to pray.  Dr. Earley then goes into great detail on how we can go away on a quiet retreat ourselves. Regarding retreats Dr. Earley states, “The benefits of such a personal prayer retreat are manifold.  Stress is reduced and life is placed back into perspective.  Spiritual tanks are refueled[11].”

The last chapter of the book, chapter ten, is a summary of sorts.  A checklist is provided from each chapter for us to see the key highlights.  These highlights will assist in implementing the keys Dr. Earley hit on during the course of the book.  There is little doubt that God spoke different things to different people throughout this book.  Some questions asked are “What are the big things God wanted me to learn?  What are the main areas God wants me to focus on now?  What am I going to do about it?  What specific steps of application will I follow through on?[12]  The book is about establishing a better prayer life, and if we are not implementing some of the steps given then we did not pay attention.

CRITIQUE

Overall I found Dr. Earley’s work to be very beneficial.  I was not sure what to expect when I first picked it up.  I was afraid it was going to be like some of those books that use very dry language.  Many books I have read on prayer in the past read as list of why we must pray.  They were more like checklists that must be followed, but this was not the case.

Dr. Earley wrote a book that was well written, relational, practical, and spiritual.  The nature of this book could be found in the first few lines of the introduction.  Dr, Earley asks, “Is it your passion to make a deeply positive spiritual difference in the lives of as many people as possible.  If so, I want to help you get there.  Or, should I say, God will help you get there[13].”

Though he has accomplished much in his ministerial career Dr. Earley remains humble, and that alone is an example for all.  However many times during the course of the book he is honest.  He is honest about his struggles, but is also quick to say that it comes with the territory when you choose to be in ministry.  The advice given on prayer is practical as it is based on scripture.  Examples are given of the patriarchs, the Apostles, and Christ himself.  Extra-biblical Christian heroes such as the early church fathers, Luther, Spurgeon, and Mueller are quoted.  Historical accounts are given for just what prayer helped these heroes accomplish.  In my opinion this book is a must for anyone who is serious about wanting to cultivate a better prayer life.

PERSONAL APPLICATION

There is much that can be written on how much I can implement from the assigned reading.  While reading I came to the conclusion that my prayer life is subpar.  I have made time to study scripture daily, but had not scheduled any time to pray.  According to my best estimate I maybe pray fifteen minutes per day.  I am easy prey for the evil one if this trend keeps up.  I have scheduled prayer time three times per day:  thirty minutes in the morning, fifteen minutes ate lunch, and fifteen minutes before bed.

This book also conveyed to me the importance of fasting.  Giving up something to focus more on prayer is something that is powerful and scriptural.  It is also something that I have not done, and to be honest was not ever going to do.  The book convicted me in such a way that I have two fasting days per month scheduled.  I have them scheduled on the days where I have the least amount of activity going on that way I can focus on prayer.

I am not yet privileged to be in full time ministry.  I have been a banker for the past nine years and see many types of people per day.  I see the rich, the poor, single moms, the homeless, and many people that are hurting.  Never had it dawned on me to pray for my customers.  Dr. Earley speaks of the importance of praying for those we lead.  I may not be in ministry full time, but why can’t I pray for these people I come in contact with every day?  Why can’t this be my ministry?  It is my goal to write down the first names of those I met and pray for them, by name, during my afternoon and evening prayer times.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion one thing has become crystal clear.  Prayer is the lifeline of our Christian walk.  It is our mode of communication with our savior, and if we are not communicating we are not growing.  In my opinion, Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders, is a must have for anyone who is serious about prayer.  It gives real world advice, and implementation methods that are very useful.  Without prayer we will fail to have the impact on our communities that Christ called us to have.  We would be wise to head the advice given by Dr. Earley.

 

 

 

WORKS CITED

1 Peter 5:7 (New American Standard Bible).

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (New Living Translation).

Earley, Dave. Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders. Chattanooga, TN: Amg Publishers, 2008.

Holman Concise Bible Dictionary, 1st ed., s.v. “disciple.”

[1] Holman Concise Bible Dictionary, 1st ed., s.v. “prayer.”

[2] 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (New Living Translation).

[3] Dave Earley, Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders (Chattanooga, TN: Amg Publishers, 2008), x.

[4] , Ibid, 1.

[5] , Ibid, 19.

[6] Dave Earley, Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders (Chattanooga, TN: Amg Publishers, 2008), 33.

[7] , Ibid, 71.

[8] 1 Peter 5:7 (New American Standard Bible).

[9] Dave Earley, Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders (Chattanooga, TN: Amg Publishers, 2008), 111.

[10] Ibid, 129.

[11] Dave Earley, Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders (Chattanooga, TN: Amg Publishers, 2008), 158.

[12] Ibid, 173.

[13] Dave Earley, Prayer:  The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders (Chattanooga, TN: Amg Publishers, 2008), ix.

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3 thoughts on “Book Critique: “Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High Impact Leaders.” By Dave Earley

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