Establishing A Prayer Team
The Vision of this “Prayer Initiative” is to inspire and encourage the bringing of prayer to the heart of all mission and ministry. The ideal is that prayer saturates every aspect of ministry and every decision that needs to be made is bathed in prayer.
To achieve that, it is our desire to see Prayer Teams established at the local level - in the church and in the Ministry organization.
Often the mention of teams suggests that a church or ministry needs to be a certain size before they can participate. This is not true! Teams can be as small as two or as large as a dozen.
We all know that in a smaller group, the work is either simply divided by the number of people available and one person does several functions; or the work becomes focused only on certain aspects of the ministry. We also know that dividing the workload with others allows an individual to continue without burnout and being overwhelmed by the task assigned.
A church or ministry that wants to become a “House of Prayer” or a body that places prayer at the heart of the ministry usually occurs in one of two ways: either the Pastor or leadership desires this to occur and takes steps to appoint someone to lead this, or an individual is moved by God to begin the process. We will be addressing both of these starts to a “House of Prayer” ministry.
Remember, there is never just one way to do things! What works in one setting may not in another. These are principles and guidelines but they must be adapted to each situation, a situation you have the best knowledge of and can therefore adapt any suggested ways and methods to fit the needs.
We will address:
Pastor’s and leaders are often busy folks and though God moves their hearts to be in prayer and have their church or ministry be in prayer constantly and regularly, they lack the time and often the gifting to organize such prayer activity.
The obvious solution is to appoint someone to lead and implement the desire the Pastor and leadership has. And so the process begins.
But there are certain cautions and certain requirements that need to be considered before appointing someone to lead and implement the vision of establishing a “House of Prayer”.
1. Do you know what you want? That sounds like a silly question but are you wanting to establish a prayer ministry or a “House of Prayer”? What is the difference?
A prayer ministry usually only involves a small portion of the body, a portion who love to pray and are burdened to pray. The rest of the body often spends very little time and effort in prayer.
A “House of Prayer” is a body where prayer saturates every aspect of life, both corporately and individually. Family life includes family prayer time; church and ministry activities and events include prayer time; and worship services spend more time in prayer than in announcements.
A prayer ministry is a good start towards the vision of a “House of Prayer”. But the vision needs to be clear – which are you wanting to establish?
2. Recognize that to have an effective leader for your Prayer Team requires someone who is more than “a wonderful pray-er and intercessor.” To lead and establish a team requires administration and leadership gifting. A prayer team leader or coordinator requires both in addition to an active prayer life.
Don’t be hasty by choosing without careful thought to the leadership requirements of the position. Every prayer warrior may not be a good team leader.
There are many times when an individual has a real burden to have the church or ministry they are involved in move into a greater prayer activity, one of a deeper nature. You see needs, you know the power of prayer, you spend hours in prayer and you want to see others experience the wonders of prayer.
There are some key things you need to remember and consider if this is you!
1. What are you believing as the end result of whatever it is you are considering beginning? Is it a specific prayer ministry or is it the mobilizing of prayer warriors or is it a desire to see prayer become integrated in all of the ministry in the church or organization? How broad or how narrow is your focus?
You cannot begin alone! You may have the vision, feel led towards “doing something” but remember, the church and ministry is being led by someone and they need to be fully involved, right from the beginning! They need to be on board, with you, in this endeavor. You are not in competition with the leaders but are to work with them – and frankly, you will need their support in so many ways.
2. Seek out your Pastor or leadership and present and discuss your vision. Be open to suggestions and ready to spend time seeking the will of the Father as you proceed. Your vision may be for what can be in five or ten years, but you may need to begin by paring down, scaling to meet the existing situation in your church or ministry.
Called of God: this seems so common sense but it is often ignored or overlooked in the desire to proceed. Both the Pastor/leadership and the potential team leader need to spend time earnestly seeking God’s choice of person. Often someone is chosen because of their present known activity in prayer and those who are more ‘closet prayer warriors’ are overlooked. Or you may be asked to be leader but feel inadequate. But God knows so seek him.
A healthy prayer life: is there a passion for prayer evident? One can only lead as far as they have travelled themselves.
Spiritual maturity: the leader must know the Word of God and be able to pray the promises of God, even if they are rephrased into common speech.
Leadership giftings: just as many leaders in a church or ministry do not have an intercessor’s gift, many intercessors do not have leadership gifts. This position requires both. Tunnel vision needs to be avoided because a “House of Prayer” is not single issue focused. The leader needs to be able to motivate and mobilize people.
Ability to teach: training of others is an important part of the prayer leader’s function. People who are not familiar with praying or don’t feel comfortable praying in public are among those who need to be trained if the vision is to be more than a prayer ministry, if it is to be a “House of Prayer”. To be a “House of Prayer” means the vast majority of people need to be involved in praying, in their home/family, and/or in the church or ministry.
Team player: the team leader needs to be able to establish a team but also needs to demonstrate they are able to work with a team, some of whom may have ideas different from the leader.
Time: to lead a team, especially to establish the team, requires a lot of time and effort. This is one of the reasons busy leadership people are often not able to successfully establish and sustain a Prayer Team, regardless of how keen they are for such a team to be in place.
1. The Prayer Team Leader is not responsible for nor is the one who prays for all the church or ministry needs! That is why there is a team and that is why the goal is to establish a “House of Prayer”.
2. The Prayer Team Leader is not responsible for getting people to prayer meetings! By training and giving opportunities for people to pray and encouraging them to attend, the team leader has done what is required. It is Holy Spirit who draws people to a place of prayer. The leader does what is possible but is not responsible for the failure of people to be involved.
3. The Prayer Team Leader is not solely responsible for the success or failure in establishing a “House of Prayer”! The entire leadership of the church or ministry holds a responsibility to make the efforts a success. They need to be on-side and supportive, not only privately but publicly.
The Prayer Team Leader is just that – the leader of the team. So who makes up the team?
The size of the team depends a lot on the size of your organization. The smaller the organization, the fewer people you have to draw on as part of the Prayer Team. The team may consist of two or a dozen.
To have a team is important if the vision is to grow to become a “House of Prayer” rather than remain a prayer ministry. Normally people consider the Wednesday night prayer meeting attendees or an intercessors group as their prayer team but the reality is that prayer teams are much more than this and have a much greater role to play than ‘just to pray.’
They are to oversee the prayer ministry and bring a focus upon communication with God into all and every aspect of church or ministry life. They are to lead, to motivate, to teach and train others to pray.
Depending on the size of the team, the members may be assigned specific areas of responsibility: corporate prayer, pastor’s/leadership prayer shield, prayer chain, care prayer, etc. This does not mean that the team member is responsible to do all the praying for that specific area, but to lead the membership who are praying for that specific area. And if no one is at present, to perhaps establish and lead a group to engage in prayer for this area.
Team members must be chosen with the same care and deliberation as the team leader – with prayer and seeking the will and choice of God. These are important positions if the goal of becoming a “House of Prayer” is to be achieved.
Every person is different and has different interests. So does every ministry and every church. Though the calling to ministry may be the same - that of saving souls – the method and approach may be entirely different.
The Prayer Team and the Pastor/leadership must be fully aware of where and what they are! What is the vision, what is the calling, what ministry is God wanting to use the church/ministry for at the moment?
Those in leadership or those on the Prayer Team may have one understanding which differs from the members of the body, or the leadership and pastor may have a different concept of ministry than the prayer team. If allowed to proceed without taking all factors into account, the entire effort to establish a “House of Prayer” may fail.
For example, if the church is not accepting of deliverance ministry because they do not believe in deliverance, than for the prayer team to be focused on deliverance will be considered divisive rather than the building up of a ““House of Prayer””.
The Prayer Team must assess where the church/ministry is at both physically (what people group are you ministering to?) and spiritually. What is the body’s calling?
They also need to assess what the existing prayer level of the body is. What part does prayer and praying play in their lives – at home and in a corporate setting? How integrated is prayer in the ministry and life of the body?
What is the interest level for prayer of the members of the church or ministry? Is there one or just a small group who are praying regularly? Is there a desire on the part of the others to engage in prayer, if only they knew how, felt comfortable, knew what to pray for, etc.?
Then a plan needs to be established to incorporate the findings of the assessment. How much training is needed? Can part of the plan be implemented? Should the focus be narrowed to meet the present situation while we pray for revelation to come to the body for what we envision as being possible? How much of my personal choices for intercession, prayer focus, ministry activities, need to be put aside so the body becomes what the body needs to?
A “House of Prayer” needs the involvement of the majority.
This is just a partial list of available resources relating to prayer ministry. We have placed them into two categories: House of Prayer; and Prayer Ministry. Please note that many aspects of Prayer Ministry are critical to becoming a “House of Prayer” even though the resources listed may be very specific ministry focused. Take what you can use and learn from and apply it as God leads you to build a “House of Prayer.”
House of Prayer:
The Prayer Saturated Church by Cheryl Sacks, published by Navpress. This is an excellent resource which focuses on establishing a local “House of Prayer”, including inspiring stories of actual events.
www.projectprayer.org – A prayer training network focused on connecting prayer teams toward the goal of becoming a “House of Prayer”.
alivepublications.org – a store with many resources, some to purchase, some free.
prayerleader.com - Though designed specifically for the person in a local church (pastor or layperson) who has been given the task of leading prayer, the site and network is much broader than that. If you are in any type of ministry in your church, and have a heart for encouraging others to grow in prayer, this is for you.
prayerguide.org.uk/prayerministry.htm - Contains a sample policy for protocol of a prayer ministry in the church. Also has links to several other resources.
churchsupportservices.org/article/266/apply-it/jump-start-your-prayer-ministry - a brief reminder of some key principles involved in prayer ministry.
barnabasnetwork.com/prayer_teams - some things to consider in establishing specific focused prayer teams.
ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-today-archives/66-unorganized/5922-power-packed-prayer-ministry – an article asking and answering the question of “What is the quality of ministry people receive in your church when they go forward for prayer? How to make sure you have the best prayer team ministry possible.”
caaministries.net/manuals/Organizing and Structuring a Prayer Ministry.pdf – an article on “Establishing an organized and structured prayer ministry within the church.”