Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders by Dave Earley

Prayer matters. Prayer matters even more to the effective leader. In his book, Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders, Dave Earley argues, “If leaders want to lead well, they must pray well” (x). Earley surveyed “many of the best-known names in the Bible and church history” and discovered that “all had a marked spiritual impact” (179). Examining the available evidence of their lives he also discovered that all of them had a powerful, vibrant, significant lifestyle of prayer. “It is my conclusion and conviction,” writes Earley, “that prayer is the timeless, and often overlooked, secret to high-impact spiritual leadership” (x). While his subjects also held attributes such as fearless faith, vision, and fervent passion, their prayer lives were (and still are in the case of the living) the common denominator (x). His selected list of high-impact leaders includes 16 leaders from the Bible and 61 from various times throughout Church history (180-182).

Without question, Earley penned Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders to influence leaders to pray, pray more, and pray well. He is passionate about prayer, arguing, “Prayer must be prioritized and practiced to achieve maximum impact” (x). In the fashion of a seasoned pastor and professor, Earley subtly opens each chapter with examples and arguments for his position followed by some practical advice and instruction. The first chapter opens with an argument for the value of prayer and the last couple chapters conclude the work by offering some best practices and a worksheet tool. Through the larger middle portion of the book spans instruction and exhortation on nine subjects like making time for prayer, praying for specific people and problems while also teaching others to pray, fasting, and being bold in prayer. He even spends a few pages dealing specifically with the various parts of a prayer.

Earley’s passion for prayer is infectious. His teaching is informative and practical. As one reads, it seems possible that Earley’s work will single-handedly reverse many of the statistics showing how little pastors pray (1-2) because one cannot put this book down after reading even a single chapter without feeling compelled to pray, pray more, and pray well.

Through Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders, Earley has provided encouragement and training that is valuable to more than the pastor-leader, he has provided a book for all who call upon the name of God. For example, as the topic of prayer saving time is addressed, Earley writes, “Prayer allows God to do more in days, hours, minutes, or even seconds than we could accomplish without him in months, or even years, of work” (5). Having enough time to accomplish all that needs to be completed is not a problem isolated to pastors. The guidance about making time to pray is practical for everybody who desires to pray and be effective for the Kingdom. The chapter covering how to turn problems into prayers is also widely applicable to all. “High-impact spiritual leaders pray differently than more common folks;” writes Earely in regard to leaders, “They pray with greater boldness. They come to God with confident courage” (111). This statement is not only for those in the position of a leader or pastor; it applies to all believers. The separation between the high-impact leaders and the “more common folks” is not position but prayer, and this is the most valuable aspect of Earley’s book. The over-arching point is that it is prayer that makes the leader. Rarely is this idea taught or practiced but Earely not only makes the point, he makes it well.

A second key value found in this book is how it applies to all situations. For the serious leader who already practices an active prayer life, there are still big challenges found within the pages of the book. Martin Luther prayed for two hours a day, every day; but he would pray for three hours if the day were going to be an especially busy one (5). It is highly unlikely that today’s typical leader prays this much so this could be read as an encouraging challenge to increase pray time even more. The same is true of the person who prays very little. In the chapter on fasting and prayer, some examples provided center on forty-day fasts. These, like Luther’s prayers could be seen as a challenge to fast in significant ways. Yet, other examples are provided along with instruction for one-day fasts, providing a challenge for those who do not fast at all. By providing examples, challenges, and instruction that speaks into the lives of everybody, the book is valuable for everybody.

Despite all the praise for this book, there is one criticism. Earely writes in such a way that a reader with poor theological grounding may come to the conclusion that prayer is a formula to get what one demands regardless of the relationship with God. God almost becomes a magic genie and prayer is the Christian way to rub the lamp. For example, through a few examples of revival, a reader lacking in a specific understanding of who God is may not see that it is by God but through faithful prayer that revival came to campuses or that John Hyde was blessed to witness so many salvations (41). Instead, this reader may draw the conclusion that God had to respond with revival because a person asked for it. There are no examples of missionaries who prayed but were told no. With the exception of Jerry Falwell’s first fast that does not end with the expected results and concludes with Earely’s statement, “God is not an ATM into which we put prayer and/or fasting and automatically get back what we want,” Earley fails to deal with the relationship that allows the prayers to be heard and he rarely ever deals with situations when God says no (103). This oversight however, is slight in light of the fantastic and valuable content provided by Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders.

This book is on my "must read" list for anybody I know who wants to do ministry well.  Pray matters.  I highly recommend this book!


Earley, Dave. Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders. Chattanooga, Tenn: Living
Ink Books, 2008.

* Purchases from this website help support this ministry.  This review was originally part of work done toward the completion of an M.Div.  It has been redacted for the purposes of this review.