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Prayer is the Backbone of Great Leadership

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In Lead with Prayer, Ryan and co-authors Peter Greer, President, and CEO of HOPE International, and Cameron Doolittle, Executive Director of Practicing the Way, take a closer look at prayer in the life of Christian leaders. Together they spent three years (over 100 hours across six continents) investigating the habits of global entrepreneurs and business executives of Fortune 500 companies, as well as some of the most influential pastors and ministry leaders in the world. “As we started interviewing the diverse leaders behind movements, the number one principle, practice, and emphasis driving radical transformation is extraordinary prayer.  


Ryan provides the following tools to equip you in your journey to become a praying leader and build a thriving culture of prayer where you lead:

1.  Learn to Waste Time with God – prayer should be a priority. It is foundational for leadership. Time spent with God is never wasted. 
2.  Practice the Presence of God – abiding with Jesus. Ryan takes the time to pray for those around him whether it is his Uber driver or a stranger in a crowd. Or, he may just listen to what the Holy Spirit may share with him to pray. By doing so, he feels more connected to Jesus.  
3.  Kneel Before the Lord – this was one of the prayer practices Ryan adopted first thing in the morning. One day, he noticed his six-year-old son followed his example. Ryan now kneels to pray every morning and evening as part of his prayer life.
4.  Pray Through Tough Times – In 2020, the early months of COVID, Ryan’s businesses were hit hard. Within months, his family lost their entire life’s savings. He had to lay people off and his daughter started having nightmares. They were graphic visions of evil spirits coming to her saying they were going to torture young girls in Nepal which is a place they had been praying for. His daughter was so traumatized by the nightmares she would wake up and run to the bathroom to vomit. As things continued to get worse Ryan still prayed. He saw a picture of Jesus and he was crying. Jesus reminded Ryan that he has never cried alone. His love engulfed Ryan. The next day his wife prayed with their daughter, and they took communion. That night she did not have any nightmares. They began to take communion every night. A few days later his company secured financing to carry them through the lockdowns of COVID. Ryan says, “The closeness of Jesus is worth the painful season if we immerse ourselves in Jesus in those perilous moments.”
5.  Learn to Listen – While living in Sweden, Ryan felt compelled to pray one night for opportunities to share his faith. He felt the Lord say, “If you want to share your faith, get-up-and-go outside your door right now.” He did and was hit in the head with a snowball by some Swedish children playing in the snow. They came inside later for some hot chocolate. One of the boys saw Ryan’s guitar and asked if he would teach him how to play. Over the next few weeks, Ryan gave the boy guitar lessons and he eventually gave his heart to Jesus. Later in life, Ryan had a similar get-up-and-go voice of God experience. He was in his office when he felt he was to get up and go to a local food packing ministry and ask them for food to send to war refugees in Myanmar. He obeyed what God told him to do. When he got to the food packing ministry, he found out that they had been praying two years for someone to help them get food to the war refugees. This year they celebrated their 65 millionth meal sent to war refugees.
6.  Create a Culture of Prayer – “Scripture is filled with examples of leaders inviting others to pray not only for them but with them to engage in a culture of prayer,” says Ryan. This form of prayer changes the attitude and tone of an organization, church, and the community.


“Experienced leaders will tell you that you can’t lead on your own. The pressure, the impossible decisions, the high risks, the temptations, the people, the overwhelming schedule—it’s too much. Some leaders seek outside help. They pray,” reveals Ryan. Some of those leaders who have learned to rely on prayer are listed below:

•   Francis Chan – Former mega church pastor, Francis chose to walk away from his ministry and intentionally spend more time in his friendship with God. Prayer is the center of Francis’s life and leadership. He likes to go for a walk and spend time thanking God and worshipping Him. He would often say to his staff, “Please tell me if you’re not spending an hour with the Lord every day so I can fire you and hire someone who will.”
•   Mark Batterson – Founder and lead pastor of National Community Church in the US capital, Mark wanted to be a person of prayer and create a culture of prayer in his community, but the fast paced environment of D.C. was working against him. So, he thought of some creative ways to put into action Chronicles 7:14.  He called his team and congregation to pray at 7:14 a.m. and 7:14 p.m. everyday. Mark also created a prayer room where his staff could intercede together three times per week. These initiatives helped to change the culture of his church and community. 
•   David Green – CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby, strives to stay in God’s presence each day and stay in constant communication with Him. One of the most significant achievements in David’s prayer life was when he flew home from a convention where several missionaries needed biblical literature. God prompted him to give $30,000 for the missionaries needs, but David didn’t have the money. In faith, he mailed four checks, each postdated over a four-month period. When the money was received by the church staff on the other end, they confirmed that just that day four African missionaries had a special meeting for literature funds. His gift was an answer to their prayer.
•   Joni Eareckson Tada – founder of Joni and Friends, an outreach to thousands of families affected by disability around the world, was left a quadriplegia after a diving accident at the age of 17. She found the gift of God’s presence in her suffering. After three years of struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts she prayed: “God, if I can’t die, show me how to live, please!” God taught Joni how to live mindful of her need for Him. 
•   Rosebell (video available) – VENTURE, Ryan’s nonprofit has helped women like Rosebell. She has served victims of genocide for forty years in a war zone with landmines. When she was young, she had no money to tithe so she gave what she had to God, her time. She says, “I committed to tithe my time and pray and read Scripture and worship for two to two and half hours every day and I’ve done that for the last forty years.” Today she oversees the care of 5,000 children and over 300 widows. Many of them have lost family due to the civil war. She walks through mine-infested jungles to reach refugee camps but is confident God is with her.
•   Hannah (video available) – VENTURE has helped Hannah, the first person in the Badi tribe, to graduate from college. She wants to become Prime Minister one day to advocate for her tribe. Because of Hannah’s prayers and leadership within her tribe, 180 members of her family are now Christians. 


Ryan is the founder and president of VENTURE, a nonprofit that works in the toughest places of the world serving war refugees, trafficked people, oppressed children, and unreached people groups. VENTURE has planted thousands of churches worldwide, transforming local communities, and creating generational change. Ryan also co-founded several travel technology companies, including Faith Ventures and Yonder Travel Insurance.

To learn more about Ryan Skoog's nonprofit, VENTURE, please visit: www/, and to purchase your copy of Lead with Prayer, please click the link: Lead with Prayer or visit the website:

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