#135 – Integrity Idea 009: Intercessory Prayer

ESSENCE:  From time to time, we are devoting posts to describing specific actions a faithful leader can consider in leading faithfully through business a better way.  We are calling these Integrity Ideas.  

INTEGRITY IDEA: Intercessory Prayer

COVERT-OVERT CONTINUUM (six Continuums for action):  Prayer

COVERT-OVERT RATING (several levels from Highly Covert to Highly Overt):  Very Covert

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community, Kingdom

Most Integrity Ideas are practical actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.  “Intercessory Prayer” is about a leader engaging people outside an organization who are gifted and trained in prayer to pray for the organization, for its owners, leaders, employees, customers, vendors and community, and for wisdom and guidance in decisions. Intercessory Prayer recognizes that faithfully pursuing business a better way in a fallen world dominated by business as usual will subject an organization and its leaders and employees to spiritual challenges and battles.  “Intercessory Prayer” mobilizes “professionals” in the same way an organization mobilizes attorneys, accountants, bankers and consultants.  In its most Covert form, it can be a confidential engagement arranged and known only by the leader or owner of the organization.  

From time to time, we are devoting posts to describing specific actions a leader can consider during the Re-Align step of Integriosity®–actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.  We are calling these “Integrity Ideas“.

We usually say that some Integrity Ideas will feel like a good fit, and others will not, and that the choice should be based on which approach is best for stewarding the organization toward its WHY.  “Intercessory Prayer” will seem obvious to some and odd to others.

Intercessory Prayer” is the third in our series of Integrity Ideas focused on prayer.  It combines the “Personal Prayer” benefit of being Very Covert with the “Group Prayer” benefit of leveraging the power and authority of faithful people praying in agreement.  In its most Covert form, it can be a confidential engagement arranged and known only by the leader or owner of the organization.

INTEGRITY IDEA: Intercessory Prayer

“Intercessory Prayer” is about a leader engaging people outside an organization who are gifted and trained in prayer to pray for the organization, for its owners, leaders, employees, customers, vendors and community, and for wisdom and guidance in decisions.

In post #133, (Integrity Idea 007–Personal Prayer), we discussed the importance of “Personal Prayer” by leaders in faithfully leading an organization.  In post #134 (Integrity Idea 008–Group Prayer) we explained how “Group Prayer” leverages the power and authority of faithful people praying in agreement as promised in Matthew 18:19:

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

“Intercessory Prayer” recognizes that God gives different gifts to different people, requiring connection, relationship and cooperation to work most effectively.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

Gifts such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, and prophecy given for the common good can help a faithful leader navigate the spiritual challenges and battles that will surely come in leading faithfully through business a better way in a fallen world dominated by business as usual.

In post #133 (Integrity Idea 007—Personal Prayer), we also described three types of challenges that will be faced by a leader committed to leading faithfully through business a better way.  In each case, a leader will be facing those challenges with both hands tied behind their back (and possibly blindfolded with their feet bound) without seeking God’s guidance, protection and provision through prayer.  Although these challenges may come in the form of human resistance and resistance from worldly systems, the Bible tells us that these challenges are spiritual:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 6:12)

We identified these challenges as resistance, dilemmas and risks.

We believe there is a spiritual aspect to every challenge and battle, and it is shortsighted for a faithful leader who understands what the Bible says about our battles to engage the assistance of accountants, lawyers, bankers and consultants but not the spiritual assistance of prayer intercessors, even if the leader is also pursuing “Personal Prayer” and facilitating “Group Prayer”.

In his book Why Business Matters to God, Jeff Van Duzer rightly suggests that the same God who calls leaders to lead faithfully through business a better way will be present to equip those who are called:

We are not expected to fulfill the creation and redemption mandates in business relying solely on our own wisdom, judgment and perseverance. The same God who calls us to these high standards provides us with access to the discernment and power that will enable us to fulfill them.

But the path to that wisdom, judgment and perseverance may require having the humility to seek out those gifted differently for the common good.

CONTINUUM: Prayer

The Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums.  There is nothing magic about these categories, but we believe they are helpful in thinking about practical execution of a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture.  The Continuums are Prayer, Proclamation, Policies, Practices, Products, People.

Each Continuum represents an area in which leaders can begin to think about, plan and institute Re-Alignment changes to the heart of the organization.

“Intercessory Prayer” is obviously on the Prayer Continuum.  The Prayer Continuum should also be the very first one addressed by faithful leaders pursuing leading faithfully through business a better way, because prayer will facilitate the heart-change in leaders needed to RENEW their understanding of God’s purpose for work and business, it will guide how those leaders RE-IMAGINE the Purpose, Values and Culture of the organization, and it will guide how they address and implement RE-ALIGNMENT along the other five Continuums. 

“Intercessory Prayer” will help faithful leaders face the spiritual battles that are certain to begin when they commit themselves to disrupt social structures and norms by leading faithfully in alignment with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.

COVERT-OVERT RATING: Very Covert

The Integriosity model breaks the Covert-Overt Continuums into six gradations–from Highly Covert to Highly Overt–that we believe are helpful in beginning to pray and think about what is most appropriate for an organization at a particular moment in time.

Most Integrity Ideas will have one place on the scale.  Some, like “Intercessory Prayer”, can vary depending on how they are implemented.  “Intercessory Prayer” can range from Very Covert to Highly Overt. For example:

• “Intercessory Prayer” can be Very Covert (an overtly faith-based action known only to a owner/CEO) if it involves a leader engaging intercessors quietly and on a confidential basis and keeping any prayer reports private.

• “Intercessory Prayer” can be Covert (an overtly faith-based action known only to a small group) if a small group of leaders or employees are involved in arranging or instructing the intercessors or are told about the intercessors and any prayer reports.

• “Intercessory Prayer” can be Overt (An overtly faith-based action known generally within the organization) if the existence of the intercessory arrangement is widely known in the organization.  Leaders might want to share the arrangement to help employees understand the spiritual nature of resistance they may encounter in doing their jobs, to encourage them in facing resistance, to show them how seriously their leaders take the spiritual nature of resistance, or as part of soliciting prayer requests for the intercessors.

• “Intercessory Prayer” can be Very Overt (An overtly faith-based action involving suppliers, vendors or customers) if leaders have the intercessors pray for suppliers, vendor or customers and share that fact with those stakeholders to show them how much their partnership is valued.

• “Intercessory Prayer” can be Highly Overt (An overtly faith-based action involving community, website, sales/marketing materials) if the existence of the intercessory arrangements is publicized by the organization, such as on its website.  We at Integrous are Highly Overt about “Intercessory Prayer”.

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community, Kingdom

When we categorize faith-based actions, we also consider the stakeholders principally impacted by the action: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community and Kingdom.  As with “Personal Prayer” and “Group Prayer”, “Intercessory Prayer” serves all those prayed for and all those touched by the organization–Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, and Community.

For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered. (Jeremiah 10:21)

IMPLEMENTATION

Implementing Intercessory Prayer” can be very easy.  In prior posts, we mentioned a Canadian business called Divine Exchange that was started specifically to provide professional intercessory prayer services for leaders and businesses.  As explained on their website:

We come alongside of you in the area of strategic, informed and targeted intercession.  We believe that prayer increases the fruit and lessens the casualties.  We function as a part of your support team – like the air force going ahead of the ground troops, we prepare the way for all that God wants to do, then walk beside you cheering you on, every step of the way.

Integrous has engaged Divine Exchange for several years.  They pray in teams and produce a very professional written report each month detailing what they prayed for as well as anything they sensed or were shown as they prayed.  Prayer team members are vetted and trained and they recognize the importance of confidentiality.

You may be thinking “paying someone to pray doesn’t feel right”.  We believe expecting a person to dedicate their time and talent on your behalf for free just because it is “faith-related” is not valuing that person, their time, their service or the gifts they have been given.  Paying intercessors is no different than paying lawyers, accountants or consultants.

An alternative to engaging professional intercessors is to seek volunteers such as a prayer team from a local church.  If using volunteers, particular care should be taken with respect to sensitive or confidential matters submitted for prayer.

If leaders decide to arrange “Intercessory Prayer”, here are a few questions to consider:

• Prayer Requests.  Will prayer requests be submitted regarding sensitive or confidential matters?  Will prayer requests be submitted regarding suppliers, vendors and customers?  Will employees be encouraged to suggest prayer requests?

• Prayer Reports. If prayer reports are provided by the intercessors, with whom will they be shared.

• Covert/Overt. How “overt” will the existence of the “Intercessory Prayer” arrangement be?  Which leaders and employees will be informed? Will suppliers, vendors and customers be informed?  Will the arrangement be mentioned on the organization’s public website?

Arranging for “Intercessory Prayer” is not about finding people who will tell you what God wants you to do as you try to lead faithfully through business a better way.  As Divine Exchange notes at the end of each of its prayer reports:

As always, we submit this to you for your edification and encouragement. It is not meant to be directional in any way but a support and encouragement in all that you are doing.

“Intercessory Prayer” is meant to help faithful leaders fight the spiritual battles they will face.  It should not be the outsourcing of prayer, which is one of the five key ingredients for the RE-ALIGN step of Integriosity®–executing a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture .  It must be in addition to “Personal Prayer” and, where appropriate, “Group Prayer”.

Faithful leaders seeking to lead faithfully in alignment with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities should remember the advice in Jeremiah 10:21:

For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.

PERSONAL NOTE (from PM):   In post #064, I noted that I recognized the importance of prayer and seeking God’s wisdom early in the life of Integrous.  (As a result, Divine Exchange has been an important partner for Integrous since the beginning.)  The history of Integrous is rooted in prayer.

• Prayer led a friend in 2008 to share that he believed I was supposed to start a Christian law firm “where greed is not the creed, serving clients for whom greed is not the creed.”

• Prayer led me to conclude that God was calling me to leave my life as a partner in a Wall Street law firm in 2009 for an undisclosed destination.

• Prayer for guidance as to my next “destination” became a regular practice.

• Prayer has been the path through numerous resistance, dilemmas and risks as God has refined and reshaped the vision of Integrous and the elements of Integriosity.

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Photo Credit: Original photo by Juan Marin on Unsplash (photo cropped)