By Daniel Fusco
Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. -Ephesians 6:18
When was the last time you thought of someone who had faith in Jesus, and love for others, and then you prayed a prayer of thanks for that person? I know, me too. For most of us, crisis precedes prayer. A crisis is often the only reason prayer begins. If everything is smooth sailing, we think we don’t need to pray.
Look, however, at what Paul tells the Ephesian Christians:
Therefore, I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. -Ephesians 1:15-16
He’s not praying for them because they’re screw- ups. It’s actually the opposite of that. Basically the people following Jesus in Ephesus were loving God and loving people—they were essentially fulfilling the greatest commandment! They had it goin’ on! And that is what makes Paul write to them and say, “Look, you guys are believing in Jesus, you’re loving each other, and therefore I don’t cease in giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.”
So Paul prays to praise. That’s deep! And every time he does, he builds up his prayer muscles. In good and bad, big and small, through all the messiness of life, Paul is determined to keep praying.
That attitude of gratitude, which Paul develops in prayer, is absolutely essential for us as leaders. Everyone likes to be appreciated. People thrive on the affirmation that we see who they are in Christ and how they are simply responding to him. But oftentimes we can be too busy to stop and let people know how much they are appreciated. As leaders, it is our responsibility to be proactive in appreciating those around us.
The apostle Paul shows us that we need to be committed in prayer for the work that we do and to maintain this mindset of appreciating those we lead. Now, I know, of course we pray! But do we really? Are we praying praise to God for His grace? Are we praying praise by being thankful for the situations we are in and how God is moving through our circumstances?
That attitude of gratitude is actually cultivated in prayer. Really, everything is. Who we are in secret ends up making its way into the public square. Who we are internally eventually becomes how we are externally known. So let us be leaders of prayer.
How is your prayer life?
How can you do a better job of letting the people around you know that you appreciate them?
How can you be more intentional about praying praise?
Daniel Fusco is the Lead Pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, WA and author of Honestly: Getting Real About Jesus and Our Messy Lives