Many in ministry, place preaching, teaching, or ministry activity at the heart of their endeavors. We are an action-oriented culture. So we see prayer as the means by which we gain spiritual strength to do ministry. We pray to invite God’s blessing on our actions and to secure his favor. We have it backwards. Ministry activity is not the main thing. Relationship is the main thing. It is actually our relationship with God, evidenced by constant prayerful dependence upon Him, which makes effective ministry possible. Without a relationship with Him, how can we help people? In truth, our helping is His helping through us. If Jesus could “do nothing” without dependence on the Father, how can we accomplish a divine mandate with human strength? If he only spoke what he heard the Father say, why do we continue to substitute a good word for God’s word to his people? Prayer is not a nice and sweet thing; it is an essential and necessary thing. Prayer is – our ministry. Our calling is to spend time with God (Mark 3:13-14). Everything else flows out of that.

Jesus did not pray to find spiritual strength to support his ministry activities. He did not pray in order to preach better or teach more effectively. Prayer was not the prop for his ministry. Prayer was his ministry. His preaching and teaching, his miracles and ministry to people, flowed out of prayer. His insights and the direction to share them came from seasons with the Father. John 5:30 records his words, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear (prayer), I judge.” In John 15:15, he said “… things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Jesus not only came to the earth to pray – he is praying now. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” If we are going to be like Jesus, we must become intercessors! Prayer must become the essence of our Christian life.

This blog is an excerpt from a re-release of a popular title, Intercession: The Uncomfortable, Strategic Middle.

P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.