by MAJ Anthony Gray, United States Army
Christian officer, leader—how important is prayer to you? As Christians serving in the military, do we recognize what and for whom we should be praying for in our leadership roles? Godly officers and leaders pray.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate servant-leader, is our example in learning how we as Christian leaders are to pray. As a leader, Jesus prayed for Himself, His disciples, and the future Body of Christ. We Christian leaders in the military are to pray for our subordinates, our organizations, and ourselves.
In John 17, Jesus shows us the three parts of what Christian officers and leaders in His footsteps should be praying:
Jesus prayed for Himself (John 17:1-5)
By acknowledging that God gave Him all authority, Jesus’ prayer was that He would bring glory to His Father by completing the work of salvation God assigned Him. If we truly recognize that the authority to lead others is God given, we should pray for His help and wisdom. Our actions and decisions will bring glory to God when we obey Him and complete the assignments He has called us to.
Jesus prayed for His disciples (John 17:6-19)
Jesus acknowledges in this portion that God gave those He leads to Him, and in turn, Jesus developed, educated, and trained them according to God’s instructions. By realizing the people we lead have been assigned to us by God, we should seek Him in prayer for His guidance as we help our subordinates follow orders to accomplish our mission, and for the best ways to develop, educate, and train them as they prepare to answer their nation’s call.
Jesus also prayed for three types of protection over His disciples: to keep them from separation and discord, from physical harm until their appointed time, and for spiritual protection against Satan. We leaders should be praying for our subordinates’ physical and spiritual well-being, and for the necessary unity to accomplish their mission objectives.
Jesus prayed for future believers in the Body of Christ (John 17:20-26)
Think of it: Jesus prayed for us before His crucifixion. He prayed that we would be spiritually united as the Body of Christ, that as His followers we bring glory and honor to God. In praying for our organization, we should pray for unity in achieving its vision, goals and objectives—and for its success and growth long after we’re gone.
Thinking back to my childhood, my parents modeled a consistent prayer life for me by routinely setting aside a portion of their day to acknowledge and converse with God. Thanks to their example of daily personal prayer and attendance at weekly church prayer meetings, my habit is to pray before going to work, asking God’s help for wisdom in my decisions, effective and efficient leadership, the favor of my superiors, and safety for them, my soldiers, civilians and family.
Prayer was especially important for me during my two deployments, witnessing God’s divine intervention in the lives of others, as well as my own: our regiment’s lowest WIA/KIA rate during our tour, or receiving God’s favor in the eyes of my superiors as the only company commander in my squadron not forced to change command. It was not because of my performance, but rather God’s grace.
I was part of a Christian prayer group including OCF members Charles Gray and Council member Jon Shine. We witnessed God’s answers to prayer: successful military operations, the protection of our base and traveling grace as we moved on the battlefield, which revealed and mitigated attacks on U.S. troops, and God’s work happening throughout our base and Iraq. God answers prayer!
As Christian officers and leaders, an active and consistent prayer life is essential to our relationship with God and others. We need to grasp and apply that fact for our effectiveness in leadership style and philosophy, following Jesus’ model of leadership by praying for our subordinates, our organizations, and ourselves.
Remember—godly officers and leaders pray!
Anthony, an OCF Council member, is a Medical Service Corps officer with sixteen years of service. He has a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from Virginia State University and a Masters of Science in Logistics Management from Florida Institute of Technology.