In order to encourage a flourishing prayer ministry, you need a physical space to nurture, practice and train in the area of prayer. The choir needs a practice room. The youth need a center for their activities. Christian education and discipleship ministries need education space. No one disagrees.
The prayer ministry also needs a space from which they can work. A prayer office needs to be established out of which the leadership team functions. If possible, a church should consider establishing a prayer center. A prayer room is a good beginning, but a city-impact center is the optimum. Size does dictate the intensity of the prayer room/center and the number of prayer volunteers. A congregation of 350 or less is probably best served with a prayer room. Congregations above 350 might be able to sustain a prayer center. Congregations above a thousand should consider a prayer impact center. All along the continuum, pastors and prayer themes can mix the various components that match their mission.
In the Pentagon war room, there are maps, computers, charts and information systems full of descriptive data. Every conceivable military situation is rehearsed and studied there.
One component of a prayer center is a situation room, where strategies and tactics are rehearsed. Here prayer-evangelism scenarios are scripted. Here we calculate the cost of the mission, the personnel needed, the timing – all the elements. Remember, prayer and mission are irrevocably linked. So the prayer center is not only a place of prayer, but the center to launch evangelism strategies.
Sound research should inform and inspire the prayer process at the center. The church should know the beachheads that must be taken for immediate and generational impact. What and where are strongholds? Where, and by what means, are the most people being taken into captivity? How and why do they remain enslaved? Prayer should be constantly offered for these people and places, along with pleas for wisdom and clarity for outreach strategies. Without clear research, we don’t know how to effectively pray. Without intentional and Spirit-informed strategies, we offer a hodgepodge of evangelism efforts that lack either a long-term or cohesive design. Without a situation room, prayer and evangelism mobilization remain disconnected with discouraging results.
The prayer center becomes the hub of support to unwrap the four dimensional model for prayer:
- Praying people: personal/family/at-home – transformational daily prayer
- A praying church – The ministries of the church must become praying and prayed-for ministries. Implement the Moravian principle: “No one works unless someone prays! An intercessor for every worker, and every worker an intercessor.” There should be multiple prayer options available at this church – a buffet of prayer ministries.
- Identified, trained and mobilized intercessors.
- A prayer and evangelism interface – prayer that connects the church with the harvest field, the lost.
To feed these four dimensions, the church needs a prayer center (room/office), focused on all four tracks. It should be designed to support and encourage:
- Development of a personal prayer life in church members
- Provision of models and resources for daily, at-home, personal and family prayer
- Mentoring of people in prayer
- Mobilizing of prayer that supports the ministries of the church
- Harnessing of the energy of prayer by directing prayer, and giving prayer assignments to intercessors and prayer center volunteers
- Identifying and gathering intercessors. The prayer center is the place where they connect, are informed and mobilized.
- Nurturing of the whole prayer ministry – children, youth, families, singles, men and women, believers and unbelievers
- Connection and coordination of prayer and evangelism – keeping a window open on the world and the needs of the lost
- Information on unreached people groups and their adoption.
- The missionaries of the congregation and the nations in which they work.
- Information about the mission field near, around the church, its degrees of need and lostness.
- City leaders, those in authority, community influencers, for whom we are charged to pray.
- Community service agencies for whom the church might pray – schools, fire, police and safety personnel.
The role of the prayer center is also to balance the vision of God’s face, hands, eyes and heart; to both mobilize intercessors (veteran prayers) and mentor brand-new believers; to support personal prayer development and corporate prayer gatherings; to undergird the ministries of the congregation in prayer, and at the same time develop harvest eyes for missional praying. This is the hub, the center, for the prayer efforts of the church.
This four-dimensional process moves forward on two legs – learning and doing. Ben Jennings, the great prayer leader for Campus Crusade, says, “Prayer is both taught and caught. Without its Biblical principles being taught, prayer is unstable. Without our catching the principles by applying them to our lives, it is sterile.”
This blog is an excerpt from the Revised Edition of Transforming Your Church Into a House of Prayer. This book echoes something we are all hearing: God is changing more than our circumstances. God is calling us to change. The Reformation is still on. God is still changing His church.
Receive this book for FREE with your paid membership in The Praying Church Movement, a network of local prayer leaders who are on a journey to bring prayer to the heart of all they do.
P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.