"My daughter's in a rough place; can you pray for her?" says one Facebook message this week.
The man with sad eyes at church stops me Sunday with a hand on my elbow. "Our marriage is in trouble. Will you pray for me?"
The requests come in person, in email, on the phone. As leaders, the needs around us can be overwhelming. But there are five people in your life—who probably aren't asking you to pray—who are worth devoting time to:
1. Pray for two non-believers
I recently connected with an acquaintance at a party. Life in the church came up, and over the course of our conversation, she revealed her own struggles to figure out how to find God in our culturally Christian community. That conversation gave me energy to keep pursuing relevant, real invitations for her to come to our church, and to pray fervently that God will press into her a hunger to know him. When you pray today, quiet your mind and ask God to bring to mind two friendships to pray for. We know God's heart is "for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him" (Acts 17:27). Pray boldly for those two friends to come into real relationship with Christ.
2. Pray for two future leaders
No matter how young you are, God's mandate is clear: Proclaim his power to the next generation. As leaders, we often forget to not just respond to the hurting, but also build up those who are gifted for leadership. If you want to be excited about your work as a leader, start seeking out some young women to encourage. They may be working in your church—but look beyond. A woman in business, that diligent Sunday school teacher, or a stay-at-home mom with clear influence—ask God to lead your heart to pray for two future leaders. As you do, you just may find yourself moving into relationship with them. Here's a challenge: Don't focus on how to actively pursue them—at least at first. Spend a full month praying for your two identified leaders, then see what God does from there.
3. Pray for one leader above you
Just as the future leaders probably aren't seeking you out, there are leaders above you who seem to be doing just fine. If you are usually prompted to pray because of crisis or need, you can easily forget those who are serving with diligence above you. Quiet your mind for a moment. What leader just came to mind? Is it your small-group leader, your pastor, a government official? Your leader may be leading well, but he or she also is human and in a very real spiritual battle after answering the call to lead. Pray for the leader's strength of character, vision, perseverance, and wisdom in decision-making. And as you do, you'll find your own heart humbled and charged to lead in your own sphere of influence with integrity and faithfulness.