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Establishing an Effective Prayer Ministry - Part 1

May 19, 2008
There is perhaps no more important a ministry in the Church than that of prayer. The Church cannot rely on programs, marketing strategies, or slick presentations in order to grow and complete the mission given to it. The Church needs the power and presence and direction of the Living God. The Scriptures are replete with instances demonstrating the importance of prayer. Jesus made clear the importance of prayer in the Church when he said in Matthew 21:13:

"It is written," he said to them," `My
house will be called a house of prayer,
'but you are making it a `den of robbers.'"

In order to faithfully exercise the mission given the Church to be a house prayer there must be an effective fully functioning prayer ministry established in each congregation.

This ministry needs to honored and recognized by the pastor and leaders of the church. Vital to the success of a healthy prayer ministry is the appointing of a prayer coordinator to oversee and direct the ministry. A prayer room, an area set aside for the purpose of prayer is another important part of an effective prayer ministry.

It is important to find out who the intercessors in each group are and make sure that they are equipped and encouraged for ministry. It is then possible to begin to include virtually everyone in the church in some form of prayer ministry. Weekly or monthly prayer cards can be sent out. Teams of people to pray during the services can be established. People that pray specifically for the Pastors and leaders of the church can be raised up. Prayer-chains can be developed for phone calls as well as by e-mail. Ministry teams can be trained to effectively pray for those in need at each service.

The list of prayer opportunities is as limitless as the directions that God gives us. God's leading and direction is of course the place where all things should start. Establishing a prayer ministry must start by diligently seeking out the Lord in prayer for His will, His timing, and His direction.

Once the realization of the importance of establishing a prayer ministry hits home it may be our first response to jump in and try and organize this ministry into existence. This approach is usually fatal just as starting any ministry in this fashion would be. The first thing that must take place is prayer. "We might be tempted, if we are interested in establishing a prayer ministry in our church, to start out by setting up a study group or a prayer chain or a team of callers to visit hospitalized and homebound members. But there is perhaps no ministry that requires a more carefully laid foundation than prayer ministry. Prayer ministry grows out of the heart of our relationship with God. So we need to begin there."

The understanding of everything being birthed in prayer became real to me in an experience I had in 1995. After years of feeling a stirring to go to a restricted country for some short term missionary work the doors had finally opened and I find myself in a hotel lobby of that country. I had traveled there with a friend who oversaw all of the mission work my denomination was doing worldwide. I assumed that he would have a plan and schedule for us to follow for our days in country. When I asked him what the plan was for the day he said, "I thought we would just sit here and pray until the Lord gave us some direction." Those were the last words I was expecting. I was used to planning and scheduling and organizing but I had forgotten the most important thing.

Prayer must be at the start of everything. As we prayed that day the Lord answered and began an incredible string of divine appointments that continues to this day. Establishing a prayer ministry has to start with prayer as well. The pastor and a few key leaders need to begin the process by diligently seeking out the Lord for His answers. There is no need to rush, as ultimately seeking the Lord on behalf of the prayer ministry is the beginning of the prayer ministry. It is the first phase of many to come. Praying and waiting and listening for the Lord will make His will for each prayer ministry known. He may reveal a great deal of His plan or He may only reveal the next phase but after hearing from the Lord a plan will begin to take shape.
About the Author
Stephen Lawes is a Pastor who also offers Church Growth Consulting to Pastors and Ministry Leaders in order to promote Church Growth.
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