HOPE’s president and CEO Peter Greer shares what inspired him to co-author his latest book, Lead with Prayer.
Originally posted on Peter Greer’s blog.
I first recognized that I had a prayer problem, ironically, on one of HOPE International’s quarterly days of prayer. When a facilitator invited our team to pray silently, I ventured outside for a prayer walk—but spent my “prayer time” ruminating over operational and staffing challenges HOPE was facing. My internal RPMs were revving, and I couldn’t seem to quiet my mind or heart.
By the end of the day, I had set a new fitness record as I paced the grounds but spent precious few moments in prayer. I strategized, planned, and toiled—focusing on what I needed to do with a sprinkling of prayer pixie dust. I concluded the day with neither peace nor clear direction, but I did have growing clarity and conviction that there was a disconnect in my prayer life: I would have described prayer as a first priority, but the way I invested my time suggested it was a last resort.
I’m not alone. Conversations with friends and studies of Christian leaders confirm the struggle. One study showed that only 16% of pastors are very satisfied with their prayer life. Another revealed that 72% identify “consistency in personal prayer” as one of the greatest needs they need to address. Expanding beyond pastors, a large foundation in the United States commissioned a top-tier research firm to investigate prayer practices within Christian organizations. Their primary goal was to understand how these organizations had overcome the barriers to prioritizing prayer and how others might do the same.
Researchers identified hundreds of Christian organizations—including ministries, nonprofits, and for-profits—that publicly espoused a culture of prayer. They looked to this group as exemplars from whom others could learn. But from the start, nearly 90% of invited organizations self-selected out of the study. Most of the remaining participants reported that prayer occurred just once a week within their organization—a commitment that seemed to fall short of a trajectory-shaping reliance on prayer.
When I saw the results of the study, I couldn’t help but wonder, if this is the disappointing reality among the leading organizations in prayer, how much bleaker is the landscape for everyone else? What might we be missing when we miss prayer? And if Christian leaders aren’t praying, what is the impact on the organizations and teams they lead?
To learn to lead with prayer, I’ve spent the last few years working alongside Ryan Skoog of VENTURE and Cameron Doolittle of Practicing the Way to find what the research study largely did not: praying leaders who would let us sit at their feet and learn how to pray like leaders, modeling and then multiplying prayer in the organizations we lead.
We spent more than 100 hours in interviews with leaders across six continents who collectively serve in more than 100 countries. We talked with well-known ministry leaders like Francis Chan, Joni Eareckson Tada, John Mark Comer, Tim Mackie, Mark Batterson, and John Ortberg, exploring their daily prayer habits. We interviewed a billionaire business leader, C-suite leaders of publicly traded companies, and faith-driven entrepreneurs. We also learned from incredible global leaders whose ministries are drawing millions to Christ. These leaders not only affirmed the primacy of prayer in their lives but also shared specifics of what motivated them to pray; how they overcame disappointments, distractions, and obstacles to prayer; and how they even made time for prayer.
We compiled their answers into our book Lead with Prayer, along with new research, personal stories, biblical accounts, and practical tools designed to equip readers to create thriving cultures of prayer wherever they lead.
I wanted to write this book because I needed to read this book. What I learned has changed the way I live and lead, and I pray it will do the same for you.
Pictured above: Peter Greer with co-authors Cameron Doolittle and Ryan Skoog