The Godly Leader Is A Man of Prayer

By Jim Poitras

Key Verse:  “…So I prayed to the God of heaven.”  (Nehemiah 2:4)

Leadership Qualities:     Man of Prayer, Man of Spiritual Growth

What I Have Learned

The stage was set for God to do a great work.  There was a need (the walls needed to be rebuilt).  There was a godly leader (Nehemiah), who was a man of prayer.  For four months Nehemiah poured out his heart before God with prayer and fasting.  C. H. Spurgeon said, “Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray.”  It is prayer that causes a leader to have a spiritual impact in his ministry.  John Wesley said,  “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God…such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven on earth.  God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” 

Nehemiah is one of the best examples of a praying leader in the Word of God.  He accomplished impossible tasks because of his total dependence on God.  The Book of Nehemiah starts and finishes with a prayer.  Nehemiah’s first reaction to Jerusalem’s circumstances was to pray. There are eleven times where Nehemiah entered into Intercession throughout the book. Nehemiah’s prayers were an integral part of his daily life and walk with God.  His work grew out of his prayer life. 

Through prayer…

Nehemiah received his vision.

He received the favor and approval of the King.

He received the necessary supplies and the courage to deal with his enemies.

He received wisdom in dealing with the incorrect business practices of his people.

He received peace, faith, confidence, and security in the midst of attacks of slander, ridicule, and lies.     

Nehemiah fought the spiritual battles before he ever encountered the physical battles.  Nehemiah understood, in advance, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.”  Our real fight is in the prayer closet.  Christ’s soldiers, the leaders, fight best on their knees.

“Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men.  Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.”  (Phillip Brooks)

Chapter 1 reveals the spiritual depth of Nehemiah as a man of prayer.  His vision was birthed in prayer and he waited on God for the go-ahead before starting.   His vision continued to be nurtured in prayer until it was completed.  Through prayer his burden became greater and his vision became clearer.  Many times leaders do not consult God before making decisions.  When things go bad many times they testify, “I really didn’t pray about that.”

A Look At Nehemiah’s Prayers:

Nehemiah 1:4-11 – Prayer of intercession for the People

Nehemiah 2:4 – Prayer for guidance

Nehemiah 4:4-5 – Prayer for God to avenge wrong

Nehemiah 4:9 – Prayer in spite of the enemies threats

Nehemiah 5:19 – Prayer for God to remember

Nehemiah 6:9 – Prayer for strength against enemies

Nehemiah 6:14 – Prayer for faith and God’s intervention

Nehemiah 9:5-38 – Group prayer and repentance

Nehemiah 13:22- Prayer for mercy

Nehemiah 13:29 – Prayer for the ministry

Nehemiah 13:31 – Closing Prayer

The Wise Man said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.”  (Proverbs 3:5-7)

Our own understanding is very limited and subject to error.  We make decisions without seeing the big picture as God sees it.

A Formula For Accomplishment:

Prayer + Sacrifice + Hard Work + Perserverence = Accomplishment of our God-given Responsibilities

The prayers of Nehemiah also teach that if a leader desires anything from people he should present it first to God.  “…And prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man…”  (Nehemiah 1:11) 

“The King’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”  (Proverbs 21:1)  The prayers of God’s people influence God to persuade rulers and people to make decisions according to the plan of God.  (See I Timothy 2:1-3)

Nehemiah prayed and kept his priorities in the right direction.  Because of this the wall was finished.  This all started with a prayer.  Look at some of the “so” statements in Nehemiah:

SO …

“So I prayed to the God of heaven. (2:4)

“So I came to Jerusalem…” (2:11)

“So they strengthened their hands for this good work.”  (2:18)

“So built we the wall…”(4:6)

“So (that) I cannot come down…” (6:3)

“So the wall was finished…” (6:15)

Leadership Priorities

Leaders in the Early Church in the Book of Acts established their ministerial priorities right in the very beginning of church history.  Should these priorities be any different today?

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4)

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.”  (1Timothy 2:1)

Leadership Praying

Prayer Warrior, Vesta Mangun, says that a leader can:

1.  Measure his love for his people by his prayer life.

2.  Measure his concern for his people by his prayer life.

3.  Measure his vision for his people by his prayer life.

4.  Measure his leadership of his people by his prayer life.

A necessary part of a leader’s spiritual leadership is praying for the people he is leading.  It is a sin for a leader to fail to pray for those to whom he is spiritually responsible.  A leader must be an example to his people.  He cannot lead them to where he has not been himself.

Jesus Prayed

Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”  (John 13:15)  The Gospels record seventeen times when Jesus prayed.  It is not a mistake that many times Jesus allowed his followers to see him praying.  He also prayed for them many times.   This stirred a hunger in them that caused them to ask, “Teach us to pray!”  One man has said, “What a minister is in his prayer closet is what he is, no more, no less.” 

Bible Leaders Who Exampled Prayer


“Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way.”  (1 Samuel 12:23)


“Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin -; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.”  (Exodus 32:32)


“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”  (Luke 22:31-32)

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”  (Hebrews 7:25)


“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.”  (Romans 1:9)

“Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy…” (Philippians 1:4)

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might…” (Colossians 1:9-11)

“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.”   (1 Thessalonians 1:2)

“Wherefore also we pray always for you…” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)

“…Without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.” (2 Timothy 1:3)


Leaders, must pray!  They must pray for guidance, vision, and strength to do the work.  As needed, a leader must repent of   prayerlessness and trying to do things without seeking God’s face.  He must pray for God’s intervention, for mercy, and for anointing and power in his ministry.  A leader must pray for the people and the churches he leads.

Pray for great things; expect great things; work for great things; but above all … PRAY – (R. A. Torrey)

What Have You Learned?



  1. How long did Nehemiah pray for Jerusalem before he did anything else?
  2. How many times did Nehemiah pray a prayer of intercession throughout the Book of Nehemiah?
  3. Write a list of five things that Nehemiah received through his prayers.
  4. Philip Brooks tells us to pray for what?
  5. Write the Formula for Accomplishment.
  6. Nehemiah’s prayers teach us what about things we expect to receive from  other people?
  7. In Acts 6, what did the Apostles say they would make as their greatest priority?
  8. In I Timothy 2, Paul said that what should be made for all men?
  9. Sis. Vesta Mangun said that four things could be measured by our prayer lives.  What are these four things?
  10. Why is prayer for the people a necessity in the life of a leader?
  11. List some of the Bible Leaders who prayed for their people.
  12. Samuel said that for him to not pray for King Saul would be a what?
  13. R. A. Torrey said which of these activities were above all the others: Expectation, Work, Prayer.
  14. How many times is it recorded in the gospels that Jesus prayed?
  15. What have you, the student, learned from this lesson?