In all honesty, my greatest struggle as a young leader had always been prayer. I knew that I was supposed to pray, but I didn’t quite understand why or how it worked. Never was my faulty prayer life more apparent than one night during college after a late football practice.
During my last training camp at Idaho, I had really come into my own as an elite level player. During the spring game a few months earlier, I had rushed for and received over 100 yards each. The draft talk started rolling in and there was a buzz around campus. One practice in August I caught a deep ball over the middle and broke for the end zone. I was ripped down hard and landed on my shoulder. I couldn’t move my arm at all. I hobbled off the field and got checked out by the trainer. After practice I saw a doc who suspected that I had torn a ligament, which meant major missed time, possibly a good chunk of the season. I was horribly discouraged. I couldn’t even lift my arm and was in a great amount of pain. That night, I sat outside of the camp dorm with my then girlfriend, and now wife Sarah. Sarah Played volleyball at Idaho and got out of practice the same time I did. We met and I expressed my discouragement. Sarah grew up in the church, as her father is a Pastor, so she asked me if I had prayed about my shoulder.
Nearly to tears, I scoffed and said, “I can’t pray, God is probably busy doing something else. He doesn’t have time for this.” Sarah got upset and said that God always has time to answer a prayer. That night she prayed for my shoulder. I climbed into bed not being able to move my arm. I took a few anti-inflammatories the doctor had prescribed for me and dozed off. I awoke the next morning to a surprise. I felt absolutely no pain! I was able to lift my arm over my head again and was back at practice the next day! The trainers couldn’t believe it. I learned something about prayer that night. God is a good father who loves his kids. And just like a child asking dad to go to the park or for a scoop of ice cream, our Father in heaven loves us and desires to give us those things we ask for. At the same time, God knows what is best for us, and if our prayers conflict with His will or what is ultimately best for us, then He will act accordingly.
Now, my prayer results are not always typical. God does not always act in the miraculous, but He can and does answer prayers. A developing young leader should work on their prayer life frequently. This means they are praying everyday for a multitude of reasons. Scripture often talks about prayer and Jesus himself prayed more often than anyone; and if Jesus prays, how much more do we need to be in touch via prayer? Here are some other key ideas regarding prayer: