Effective Prayer Ministry:
Priority, Power, Principles, Practice of Praying
If you are going to have an effective prayer ministry, whether it be personal, with a prayer partner(s), or corporately in the church, you need the following:
When you understand and practice the above elements in prayer, then you are ready to:
It is then that you will begin to see an increase in participation and the development of a passion within others to meet with God through prayer resulting in praise to our Lord.
Effectiveness in Prayer Requires that it is a Priority
Specific time must be set aside for prayer no matter what else is going on. During the stresses and trials of life, we need to pray more, not less. The title of Hybel's book, Too Busy Not to Pray, says it well.
In both our private lives and in the church, we can let the concerns of this world crowd out our communion with God. So often in prayer meetings we can spend so much time on preliminaries or sharing prayer requests that we have little time for actual praying. Token prayers are usually shallow without much passion.
Get creative in the way you present prayer requests and handle preliminaries to try to save time in order to allow more time for prayer.
- Have people write their requests on note cards or slips of paper. Put them all in a basket and pass the basket around for people to randomly choose a request.
- As people arrive have them write their requests on a transparency or white or chalk board and keep it displayed as you go to prayer. You could also present announcements this way.
- Collect prayer requests by e-mail or phone throughout the week and type up a list to distribute. People can then pray using the list.
- Share requests in groups of three and then have only one person from each group pray for all the requests of their group in the larger setting.
- Structure your time into segments of prayer with a brief time in-between to share something about that segment.
Effectiveness in Prayer Requires and Results in Power
"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (NIV). "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (NASB). "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (KJV). "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results" (NLT). (James 5:16)
The Greek seems to point to two aspects of power. One is the energy put forth in praying and the other is the effect of those prayers.
What gives us power in prayer is that we make our petition in the authority of Jesus Christ. Even the righteousness referenced in this verse is that of Christ's. Scripture is clear that no one is righteous in oneself (Rom. 3:10-12). Praying "in Jesus' name" means more than tacking the phrase on to the end of the prayer. When we pray in Jesus' name, we are claiming His identity, His righteousness, and His authority. Therein is power in prayer. This kind of prayer can't help but to have power.
The results are powerful in the sense that something will happen. Be careful not to be discouraged or disillusioned if the results are not manifested in big ways ... obvious miraculous power. When God answers prayer with peace, wisdom, or grace, you have power.
peace . . . . power to make it through the hard times
wisdom . . . . power to know what to do
grace . . . . power to be Christ-like in the midst of a dark, sinful world
Prayer is powerful because God is powerful. As the Almighty, omnipotent God, He has the ability to do what we ask. As the Sovereign Lord of all creation, He has the authority to do what He knows is best in a given situation.
One way to emphasize the Power Source is to begin times of prayer with praise and thanksgiving acknowledging His Lordship and might.
- Incorporate praise for answered prayer.
- Build follow-up into your structure. One possibility is to have people journal prayer requests and answers they have seen. Brief sections of what they wrote could be read or compiled and then distributed.
Effectiveness in Prayer Requires Adherence to Biblical Principles
Prayer was instituted by God as the means of communing with Him. He is the One who determined that prayer would be the way humans would work in cooperation with Him. Prayer is His idea, not ours. Consequently, it is only logical that we come to God on His terms, not ours.
God will never contradict Himself in the way He answers prayer. Nor is He obligated to respond to prayer that violates His character or Word.
The more we come to truly know God in the full essence of His being as depicted in Scripture, the more we will pray in ways that tap into His power.
When you teach on prayer, go beyond the mere commands and principles to the basis for that command or principle in the character of God.
- "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Prov. 9:10)
- "The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content untouched by trouble." (Prov. 19:23)
Effectiveness in Prayer Requires that it be a Permanent Practice
To pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) is to make prayer a lifestyle or pattern in your life. To pray without ceasing is to pray at all times and for all things. Setting aside times devoted to concentrated, undistracted prayer in our individual lives and as a church is very important. But, we also need to go through our daily lives attentive to God, consistently asking God His opinion and desires and always giving Him thanks.
To pray without ceasing is what has been called "practicing the presence of God" -- always conscious of His presence, turning to Him as a constant companion, making no topic off limits with Him. Keep in mind that we do not need to pray for His presence in our lives. We have His promise that He is already there.
In calling people to prayer, we need to be careful that we are not making prayer come across as a passing fad or following the latest church movement. Prayer needs to be seen as the norm, as the expected response in any and all situations. When prayer is a pattern, we do not just come together for prayer in times of need or crisis. As seen in the example of the early church (Acts 2:42), we will be devoted to prayer wherein we promote a prayer environment and not merely a prayer meeting.
Model what it means to have a lifestyle of prayer.
- In conversations, ask the person if you can pray with them right then about what was just shared. Soon you may see other pockets of prayer around the church as people follow your example.
- When someone e-mails you with a prayer request, let them know that you will be praying for them as you send back your reply. You may even type out your prayer or part of it in the e-mail.
- As you hear or watch the news, silently pray for the current events right then and there or ask those in the room to join with you in prayer.
- In your sermons or teaching, refer to times when God led you to stop and pray as illustrations when appropriate. People may grab hold of that idea for their own lives.