The most common mistake is sacrificing the plan for the people; or the people for the plan. A plan will not be effective unless your leaders own it. As someone has observed, no plans survive enemy engagement. Your plan will meet resistance and require resolve. You may be forced to retreat and reteach the values rather than moving forward with a plan that is inadequate or only a mirror of the past. You may also find that some wonderful people, perhaps veteran prayer warriors, cannot make the trip using your new plans. Their wineskins are too stiff for change.
You will make a mistake if you anticipate no resistance. It will be rare if the Evil One does not resist both prayer and prayer plans. You will also make a mistake if you do not encourage the exhibition of humility in the process. Everyone is a learner. No one knows exactly how God is leading. The Holy Spirit must be in charge.
All must remain teachable, especially leaders. Humility and the refusal to grasp at a desired outcome, to be manipulative, will create the unity that allows the Holy Spirit to make the group one in their planning. Stop and pray often in the planning process. Don’t push forward for the sake of time – wait on the Holy Spirit.
Plans belong to the pragmatic side of organizations, but in the kingdom, the ethos, the environment out of which of those plans evolve and in which they are executed is as important as what the plans are designed to accomplish. Remember, culture trumps structure.
Discover the appropriate “level” of intensity for the prayer ministry in your situation:
- Can you see an aggressive, balanced, integrated prayer process in your congregation, even if it is small?
- Is there a possibility of having a dedicated prayer room?
- What about a prayer center?
- Can you sustain prayer in that center, multiple days a week?
- A 24/7 prayer process usually requires a church of a thousand or more?
It requires 168 man-hour volunteers just for on-site prayer hosts. Most churches should not make constant “24 hour” prayer their top priority. You want to launch a prayer process that is sustainable given the amount of manpower which the church can allocate to it presently. If you invest all of your energy in this component of your effort, you will build a process that is too narrow.
- What level do you see your church achieving?
- What function will intercessors play?
- What will the interface of prayer and mission (prayer evangelism) look like? How will prayer be organized to support the ministries of the church?
- And how will prayer be integrated into those ministries?
Your goal is to mobilize an entire church to pray. At first, everyone will say, “Yes, let’s make our church a house of prayer!” Then the reality of what prayer will cost will become clear. And your initial enthusiasm will fade. Don’t be discouraged. Persevere without being punitive toward those who pull back – you’ll have some surprises in this area. Refuse to allow a “they don’t want to pray!” pessimism to develop among your leaders. It is a subtle form of pride that will paralyze your movement. It leads to a division that immobilizes you. There can be no them-and-us mentality allowed to take root.
Your prayer journey is much like a long interstate trip. There are many entrances and exits along the way. Some will leave you and later rejoin the movement. Others will not come into the stream of prayer initially. They may choose another entrance point. For example, not all will respond to a three-day prayer summit. The idea may be too intimidating for them. Some intercessors will not want to be a part of an Intercessory Prayer Team. Not everyone will attend the church-wide prayer gatherings.
No single prayer slice, program, or event will capture everyone. Some will join the parade through the entrance of prayer evangelism. Others will join when you announce prayer training for lost family members. Still others, when you form prayer ministry teams. Some will see a need for family prayer – for learning to bless their children, and that will be the key to their response. A few will join you in support of national concerns and moral issues. Some may have a specific passion to pray daily for Jerusalem.
If you expect everyone to come through one door, one event, or one training model – your prayer process will fail. It must be broad and long-term. Keep offering different entry points into the journey. This means that you have to create side-doors into prayer.
As the prayer leaders work with department leaders to help them integrate prayer into every aspect of the life of the church, the members will inevitably be exposed to new prayer styles and models, literature, and language. Don’t expect them to come to you – to either prayer training or doing events. Take prayer to them. Push it into every seam of church life. This will happen as the leaders of Sunday School classes, small groups, men and women’s ministries, children and youth leaders, couples and singles – all are trained themselves as prayer leaders. Insist: To be a leader of any ministry in this church, you must be a prayer leader. No ministry can be led without prayer.