The fourth dimension to a local church prayer ministry is prayer evangelism. The energy of prayer needs to be turned outward, toward the community and the world. This is prayer evangelism.
Avenues to heighten prayer evangelism:
- Adopt the Moravian principle, “No one works, unless someone prays.” Make prayer the essential to every effort. Anything not backed and bathed in prayer is human effort. And human effort alone won’t result in divine impact. Have every worker recruit a prayer support team. But limit the number on those teams to three to five individuals. Don’t allow prayer team recruitment to degenerate into a competition or popularity contest. Everyone should be praying for the pastor, but other teams should be more specific in focus and limited in size.
- Have church members create a list of family and friends, neighbors and work associates who are not practicing a vital relationship with Christ. Ask them to focus on five names. Challenge them to spend just five minutes day, five days a week praying for those five people. After three months, suggest that they reassess the smaller list in view of the larger list. Give them permission to make alterations. Then do the process over.
- Celebrate the stories of open hearts, “unpredicted” and divinely orchestrated meetings and unexpected connections, of salvations. Remember, there are no co-incidents! Track the hand of God in response to prayer.
- Create a “wailing wall” with the names or pictures of lost loved ones. Keep the fate of souls in front of the congregation.
- Develop a neighborhood prayer strategy. Emphasize the “prayer-care-share” process.
- Adopt some territory around your church – a block, ten blocks, a square mile, a definitive subdivision, some specific geographic area. Let that be your mission field. Be good neighbors.
- Develop a spiritual mapping team. Have them collect data on everything within the determined boundaries. Study crime patterns. Get to know the business owners. Discover potential collaborators, other churches and pastors. Inform key intercessors. Pray for everything that moves in that zone – other churches, businesses, schools, clubs, bars, apartment complexes – everything. Become the change agent in your neighborhood. Put it all on a map. Keep records.
- Adopt community leaders for prayer. The city-councilperson or commissioner, school board member, etc.
- Pray for schools and fire houses near your church. Find out if there are special police units assigned to your area. Introduce yourself. Offer to pray for them.
- Prayer-walk the neighborhood. Not once, but often. Systematically cruise your definitive mission area praying. Watch for changes.
- Pray over homes for sale! Connect with new neighbors. Be the Welcome Wagon. Don’t pressure, just be a good neighbor.
- Monitor changes in the community – new subdivisions, buildings, new businesses.
- Do church-wide “care campaigns.” Pass out water on a hot day, coffee on a cold day. Set up a prayer tent and give the gift of prayer. Do care projects in the city, but specifically in your mission zone. Give out food baskets to the needy. Look for creative ways to care – beyond the walls of the church.
- Evangelism means good news. Make the church a good news institution. Be good news to the poor and the helpless, the hurting and the hopeless, the unloved and the lonely. Be good news in the neighborhood.
- Send prayer ambassador teams out to nearby businesses with the message, “We’re your neighbors at First Church. We wanted to introduce ourselves. We’re praying for you.” Jesus called us to be agents of peace in the community.
- Focus on some high-crime area in your city. Send prayer mission teams into the area to simply pray there. If safe during the day, prayer-walk the area. Look for measurable changes. Don’t be surprised if the darkness growls back at you. If it does, don’t run; rather, intensify your efforts. Push through; pray through.
- Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; and pray for some peace-threatening issue in your city, at least monthly.
- Assign prayer teams to specific areas, businesses, issues. Sponsor on-site prayer gatherings of three to five Christians who meet at a given location once a week for 10 to 15 minutes of prayer. Mark the location of these consistent prayer focus teams on your mission map and gather regular reports from them.
- Every church needs an identified mission field – one near and one afar. Pick mission fields for which you will regularly pray. Some mission fields are demographic, not geographic. Ask yourself, who can we care for – widows, orphans, single families, the elderly, drug addicts, youth, gangs? Move beyond prayer. Prayer also cares … and care opens the door for sharing Christ.
- If your church is in a stable neighborhood, partner with a church in a depressed and socially challenged area. Help them determine a reasonable target area as a mission field. Stretch your own people beyond their comfort zone. Give the smaller, more challenged church the gift of prayer. Lend intercessory support. Send prayer mission teams. Assist them first with prayer evangelism. Then with care impact strategies. And then equip them to more effectively share the gospel.
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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.