Illinois Baptist 12 26 2016 E Edition Page 2

specially for leaders, new years require fresh vision. And for Christian leaders, fresh vision requires prayer. But qual- ity prayer takes time and, for me at least, finding that time is one of the biggest challenges I face. Time is so precious. I often feel I dont have enough of it simply to do well with my family, my job, my church. So I end up giving almost all my time to those things, and tell- ing myself that God will understand. He understands, Im sure. But he cant be pleased. Its been well said that you spell love: T-I-M-E. And since prayer is an ex- pression of my love for God, and I need quality time with God to gain fresh vision for the future and power for daily living, then I must spell prayer the same way. Prayer deserves my time. Im convinced Im not alone in this struggle. Many of todays well-intentioned pastors and Christian leaders are so pressed for time. And prayer can become one of the earliest casualties of a busy schedule. Yet the shortage of serious time for prayer becomes quickly evident in a leaders life, and in the fruit of his or her minis- try. I know they are in mine. Thats why I struggled recently when I was asked to bring a devotional word to a national gathering of SBC prayer leaders in Chicago. With some difficulty, I decided to be vulnerable. I admitted to them that I am ashamed of how little I rely on prayer compared to my own efforts. I too rarely en- gage God in a way that invites him to override my desires or plans. Mostly, I quickly ask him to bless what Im rushing off to do. I told them I see this happening with Christian leaders everywhere, and that we as leaders need their help reprioritizing prayer in our lives. Then we looked at Gideons experience in Judges 6-7. Like this timid, reluctant, and frustrated leader, we often toil away in our own strength at things that dont really help much, rather than inviting God into our chal- lenges, and letting him empower our leadership. But one life-changing day Gideon and God, as the Angel of the Lord, had a conversation that has deeply challenged me about my own prayer life. Heres a summary of what I said about it in my devotion for those prayer leaders: Gideon was weak when his extend- ed conversation with God began, but God loves to use weak people. Though God initiated the conversation, Gideon did most of the talking, at first. Then, after questions and fleeces, there was a moment of surrender, when Gideon gave his fears, desires, and plans over to God. After that, God did most of the talking, and acting. Gideon never had to say, God said obey me to the people he led. He simply acted with a new boldness that came out of his personal conversation with God. And the people gladly followed him in his obedience to God, with a powerful result that brought God glory and his people victory. Thats the kind of prayer encounter I need. Gideon was a small man and a reluctant, fearful leader. But all that changed when he engaged God in extended, serious prayer. In this coming new year, I have concluded that I must do whatever it takes to meet God like that. And I must encourage and facilitate that in the lives of those I lead and influence. I look around me, in Southern Baptist life and elsewhere, and I see that there are others sensing the same need. By Gods grace, a new year gives us more time. Lets be leaders who give a great deal of that time to God in prayer. Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org. Leading in the need of prayer NATE ADAMS Snapshots from the world of Illinois Baptists the cooperative program Giving by IBSA churches as of 12/16/16 $5,667,848 Budget Goal: $6,057,693 Received to date in 2015: $5,822,067 2016 Goal: $6.3 Million For questions about subscriptions, articles, or upcoming events, contact the Illinois Baptist at (217) 391-3119 or IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org . The Illinois Baptist is seeking news from IBSA churches. E-mail us at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org to tell us about special events and new ministry staff. POSTMASTER: The Illinois Baptist is owned and published every three weeks by the Illinois Baptist State Association, 3085 Stevenson Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62703-4440. Subscriptions are free to Illinois Baptists. Subscribe online at IBSA.org . CONVENTIONAL WISDOM What if we imagined the U.S. as a small town, population 100, instead of a continent-spanning nation with hundreds of millions of people? Doing soallows us to see basic data about the U.S. and its people in a fresh, simple, and illumi- nating way." Pew Research Smaller sample size Pew researchers used data from their 2014 Religious Landscape Survey to show the religious makeup of the U.S.- if it were a country of 100 people. The Illinois Baptist staff Editor - Eric Reed Graphic Designer - Kris Kell Contributing Editor - Lisa Sergent Editorial Contributor - Meredith Flynn - Pew Research The shortage of prayer quickly becomes evident in a leader's life. E 2 IBSA.org Illinois Baptist Evangelical Protestant (25) Catholic (21) Mainline Protestant (15) Historically Black Protestant (6) Mormons (2) Other Christian (2) Jewish (2) Muslim (1) Hindu (1) Buddhist (1) Other faiths (2) Unaffiliated (23)

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