the following is taken from...
Building a Congregational Prayer Ministry
(A Discipling Tool For Your Congregation)
You can see the whole text -- and other good articles on prayer at http://elca.org/spiritual.html
What is a Prayer Ministry?
"Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." (Luke 11:1c.) Prayer Ministry is an intentional reponse to the powerful gift of prayer that God has given to the Church. Where there is no vision or plan regarding prayer, a church often responds to prayer requests through a prayer chain (that may or may not be effective at the present time) and views the pastor as the one hired to pray. By establishing Prayer Ministry as one of the ministry areas of your congregation (likened to your stewardship, evangelism, and worship ministries etc.), it gives a team of prayerful people the opportunity to intentionally seek God's will and advance the power of prayer in your congregation. The shape that any Prayer Ministry takes is going to be specific to that prayer team, the local community needs, and the openness of that congregation.
8 Keys to Developing Prayer Ministry:
1. Pray, wait on God and listen.
2. Elicit the vision and commitment of the Pastor for expanding the role of prayer within the life of the congregation.
3. Secure the understanding and full support of the staff and council. (Expect the vision for prayer ministry to get reshaped and clarified as more key leaders gain ownership of it.)
4. Focus on motivating and involving the whole congregation. (The goal must always be to involve all people, though it is seldom realized. Prayer ministry is a discipleship tool.)
5. Gather a group of potential prayer leaders for Bible study and prayer. (Begin by modeling and instructing them in prayer with the understanding that they will in time instruct others.)
6. Begin everything that the congregation does in prayer. (Convene all council meetings, committee meetings, staff meetings, annual meetings, Sunday School, youth group, and all other gatherings in prayer.)
7. Anticipate resistence to a congregational prayer ministry (Satan will engage in efforts to derail or destroy this ministry by causing divisions, distractions, spiritual attack, misunderstandings, and other actions of power.)
8. Evaluate (regularly) how prayer is advancing. (Ask these kind of questions: How are we doing? Are we involving all groups in the congregation in some way? If not, when and how do we plan to invite them?)
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone." "...and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well." (1 Timothy 2:1 & 2 Timothy 2:2.)
Why Pray: (if God already knows what we need anyway?) Jesus says, "Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)
1. It is a God-given calling -- Jesus says in Mt. 6:5, "And whenever you pray." He did not say 'if you pray.'
2. God needs us to pray. Watchman Nee wrote: "..prayer is simply speaking out the will of God through the mouth of a believer. Before God, the believer asks in prayer for the Lord's will to be done. Prayer...merely what he has already foreordained. Prayerlessness, though, does effect a change, because God will let many of His resolutions go suspended due to the lack from His people of prayerful cooperation with Him,"). [Check out the use of authority/dominion" in Gen.1:26-30; Lk. 4:6; Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; & Mt. 28:18. Hence we pray "in the name of Jesus..." Also note the use of intercessors - Ezek. 22:30]
3. Prayer is a relational communication with the Head of the Church - Jesus Christ.
(Eph. 1:22-3; 4:15-16; Col. 1:18; 2:10,19) Communication is two-way!
4. It is through prayer that God gives us the wisdom and revelation that we need for ministry.
(See Eph. 1:17-19. Having the 'eyes of our heart enlightened')
5. God desires to give us direction and vision for ministry.
(Jer. 29:11, seeking the plan that God has for you and your church)
Provide for Different Styles of Prayer
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice...Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God," Philippians 4:4,6.
Affirm prayers that are written. Encourage verbal participation in prayer. Lift up the value of praying silently. Provide opportunity for people to experience agreement in prayer (Mt. 18:19-20). Praying in unison through a liturgical style of prayer like the Lord's Prayer, or reading a Psalm responsively, etc. Design an instructional model for prayer (ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanks, Supplication). Utilize a meditational prayer, for example - the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen). Employ "popcorn" prayers by inviting anyone to jump in with a prayer word or brief phrase of thanks or intercession.
Praying the Scriptures (lectio devina). For example, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)
Creating Schools of Prayer:
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-21.
Establish prayer partnerships within your church (two or three intercessors meeting regularly). (dyads, triads)
Develop pastoral and leadership intercessors, both individual and family. All people in leadership need protection, encouragement, and support because they...
a) always come under attack - Luke 4:1-13; 1 Pt 5:8; John 15:18-21
b) cannot "win" battles alone - Exodus 17:8-13; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
c) will motivate others to pray
d) have weaknesses too.
Train a prayer ministry team!
For more information, contact Brent Dahlseng, Prayer Ministry:ELCA/DCM
firstname.lastname@example.org (800) 638-3522 x2682