Most churches have a single-dimensional model for prayer. They have a prayer meeting that is one-style, one-time, one-leader for all. They are limited in terms of the prayer formats that are used. Even the prayer focus becomes routine, often too narrow. Intercessors sometimes “take over” the prayer services with a level of passion too hot for the typical participant not accustomed to such fervent prayer! Sometimes the prayer meetings degenerate into a litany of prayer requests.
What is needed is a multi-dimensional model. A growing church needs many opportunities for prayer – different times and places. It needs a prayer ministry that is diverse in its focus.
There are four areas which need to be intentionally developed if the church is going to have a balanced prayer process. These are not exercises in prayer or even prayer ministries. These four areas represent the way in which we should measure and balance the prayer ministry.
The Four-Fold Focus
- A praying people – personal transformation. At home, daily prayer. Family prayer times. Couples connecting in prayer. Fathers and mothers, praying with children. The discipline of gratitude at meal times. Holiday prayer. Fathers blessing their children. Moms and Dads praying over fevered brows. Homes that are consecrated. Homes where the act and sound of prayer is not strange.
- A praying church – total dependence upon His hand! Doing the business of God – prayer. And doing nothing without prayer. Making the church a praying church – living out of His presence, depending in His strength, serving beyond ourselves.
- Identified and Mobilized Intercessions – the prayer engine of the church is intercession and intercessors. These people are called and gifted to pray. All of us are to be intercessors. But there is a core of people with hot-hearts for prayer. Find them. Affirm them. Disciple them. Mobilize them. Train them. Debrief them. Direct them.
- Prayer Evangelism – Claiming the harvest by prayer. Asking for God’s presence to anoint as we love the lost open to the gospel. Prayerfully looking for the opportunities to share the good news of God’s love. Conduct prayer walks and prayer missions. Ask every Christian to begin to pray for unsaved friends and family. Prayer and the harvest must be connected.
We want to consider these four aspects of the congregation’s prayer ministry in pairs. First, personal and family, at-home, daily prayer that nurtures the ongoing transformation of our lives into the image of God is tied to at-church prayer mobilization. The two are connected. They feed one another. And of course, the one group that is sure to be praying at-home on a regular basis and will show up for a prayer meeting – are intercessors. No church prayer process will advance very far until these people are identified, mobilized, trained, teamed, directed and regularly debriefed. The driving force behind evangelism is intercession.
At-home personal prayer is the certain marker of the survival of faith. Church prayer meetings teach us to pray. There, we catch “prayer-fire.” But only if we take it home and keep those fires burning has the church prayer meeting been permanently sucessful. The more people catch prayer-fire and take it home, the more powerful the ministry of the church and its people will be. And the more the at-church ministry will reflect the depth and level of at-home prayer.
Intercession will find its end in evangelism. The lack of success in evangelism, barren altars, are always traceable to a lack of intercession. The first movement in the salvation of a soul is the invasion of the Spirit, and usually that happens with some intercessor in the middle.
Adapted from the book, Transforming Your Church into a House of Prayer!