I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. (1 Timothy 2:1)
When we're first given the responsibility of leading people our focus easily turns to the face to face responsibilities we've taken on - running programmes, leading Bible studies, being a listener/advisor etc.
But here Paul urges Timothy to do one thing above all else - to pray for those he's leading.
It's easy to forget this important responsibility. People notice when you don't show up for programmes but you can go months without praying for those you lead and no one will know. In fact prayer may not even be listed in your role description - it's just somehow assumed you'll do it.
Paul however puts prayer in its proper place. Many times you'll face situations in ministry where you're not at all sure what to do, or situations where, no matter how much time you've devoted to caring for someone, nothing has changed.
Into these situations, Paul says, pray! Make it your first priority - your number one strategy.
Not only does he say pray, and do it "first of all"; he also says to pray for "all".
There are some people who are easier to pray for than others. They are open about their needs and we like them so prayer comes without great difficulty. But there are two types of people you may have difficulty praying for as a leader.
The first of these is the person who never seems to have any need. There never seems to be any great drama in their life and, as far as we know, everything is OK.
Like all of us these people have prayer needs and your responsibility is to discover these and pray for them. Even if you don't know what to pray, pray anyway. Start with general prayers of blessing: a closer walk with God, wisdom to make good decisions and victory over temptation. Be open to specific prayers the Holy Spirit may lay on your heart - pray whatever comes to mind.
The other type of person you may have difficulty praying for is the person you're finding it hard to like. We tend to think that the purpose of prayer is to change God's mind but actually prayer can change our mind! Try praying for someone you find it hard to like and in time you'll find God giving you a greater love and regard for that person. Prayer will change you and in the process may change your relationship with them - which might just change them.
So pray for ALL - and do it FIRST.
Who do you think of when you reflect on the two categories of people we often overlook, intentionally or otherwise, when it comes to prayer? What has stopped you praying for these people as you should? Spend time in prayer for each of them now asking God to direct your prayers.