7 Vital Steps to Advance Your Prayer Ministry
by Ron Sawyer
Vital prayer ministries are foundational to the entire ministry, and particularly the evangelism focus, of every congregation. There are seven vital steps to advancing your congregation’s prayer ministry:
Step 1: Reinforce a vision of prayer
Use frequent and creative communication to reinforce the vision for prayer established by your congregation’s leadership. Use your newsletter effectively to lift the vision. Keep it visibly in front of the congregation by displaying a banner at the entry to the worship center. What symbol can you develop that will be associated with the prayer vision? Can a song be written to capture the vision? Include reminders about prayer in the sermons and worship services of your faith community.
Step 2: Lay a solid Biblical foundation
Launch your prayer ministry through a series of sermons that support a vision for individual and communal prayer. This deliberate approach will help address any questions or concerns about a focused emphasis on prayer. Keep in mind that wise leaders will build prayer ministry on a solid biblical foundation. When the storms of conflict come, this “house of prayer” will not be washed away (Matthew 7:24-27).
Step 3: Train prayer team members
Take the time and energy to train those who volunteer or who are selected for your congregational prayer team. Make expectations clear from the beginning for prayer team members. Communicate clearly the hopes and dreams for this ministry.
Step 4: Establish clear lines of accountability
It is vitally important to have clear lines of accountability in your prayer ministry. Because of the spiritual reality of prayer and the need for confidentiality, it is important to work through issues of accountability ahead of time. Having one person in charge who communicates regularly with your church staff prevents chaos.
Step 5: Develop prayer mentors
Mentoring can be an excellent way to develop skilled people for your prayer team. It also reinforces what the mentor has learned. Mentoring expands and multiplies prayer ministry training to include greater numbers of congregational members. Imagine a whole congregation that has received some special prayer training. It could revolutionize your congregation.
Step 6: Protect your prayer ministry
Follow a few simple guidelines to protect your prayer team and its members. Ephesians 6:13 says, “having done everything to stand firm.” We are all subject to temptation. It is wise in prayer ministry to establish clear boundaries for the emotional safety of all those involved. If a man or woman requests private prayer, be sure that the prayer team member is of the same gender. A prayer team consisting of both a man and a woman is another good solution to private prayer. Prayer partners should be of the same gender unless it is in a public meeting. If there is a desire for the laying on of hands in prayer, ask permission first. Then and only then, the prayer partner may place a hand on the head or join hands with the person for whom they are praying.
Step 7: Celebrate publicly those who serve in this ministry
Just as you install others for a variety of other congregational volunteer ministries; it is important that your congregation has an opportunity to publicly affirm those who serve in your prayer ministries. This also reminds your congregation of its commitment to accept, support and pray for those who have stepped forward for this important ministry.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”