If you’ve come here for a 1-2-3 step plan to develop a prayer ministry in your church, you might be disappointed. We can provide general guidance on factors that will make for a more effective prayer ministry but the specifics depend on your church. Where you begin depends on a number of factors. (The link above will take you to the Prayer Ministry training section on the site. To get that content plus more in document form, click on the image cover.)
Questions to Get You Started on a Prayer Ministry Tailored to Your Church
Where do people stand in terms of the value and need for prayer?
You may need to provide some initial instruction or training about prayer to lay the groundwork if people don’t have that sense. Use Sunday School classes, small groups, and sermons to teach about prayer. Don’t forget about the more informal training that comes from providing an example, testimonies of how God answers prayers, little blurbs in bulletins, newsletter, social media feeds, etc. You might suggest helpful resources about praying like books or articles. — To build a culture of prayer in a church takes a consistent, regular emphasis on prayer as well as actually turning to God in prayer at every turn.
If your church already seems to have a culture of prayer, then it may just be a matter of putting a structure in place that works for them. Questions that follow will help you think through a plan tailored to your church.
How many people are truly interested in being a part of a prayer team?
While you probably desire a big turnout, you may need to start with 2-3 people, while laying the groundwork in others. Rather than let that get you discouraged, remember God’s promise that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there (Matt. 18:20). The excitement of meeting with God in those who come could be a contagion for others to join.
What are the logistics you need to put in place before you begin such a ministry?
While it is often good to connect meeting to pray to a time people are already at church, like before or at the end of a service, rather than making them come out special, it does present some challenges. You need to think that through in order to remove obstacles people might have in attending. For example, depending on the time your worship service ends, you may run into the lunch hour. Depending on the people who stay, you may have childcare issues. The more you think through and plan for these obstacles, the better you will be able to meet with people’s excuses. If you don’t work through these issues ahead of time and people come but get discouraged, you may find it harder to get them out in the future.
How will you structure the meeting?
In some churches a rigid, formal approach may not work. In other churches a more spontaneous approach may not work. Think of the traditions of your church. While you do want to stretch people, taking them beyond where they are in their prayer life, you don’t want to frustrate them or scare them away. Begin where people are and slowly take them beyond. Regardless of the structure, make it worth their while to be there. Make the real focus on meeting with God.
What will you pray about? How will you determine what to pray about?
Perhaps there are specifics you sense this meeting should focus on, growing out of the needs at your church. If you are going to have a pre-planned agenda, be clear with people about the purpose of the prayer time. If people come thinking you are going to pray for their personal needs and you never get around to it, they may soon stop attending. If you are going to open it for personal requests, guard against spending the majority of time taking requests with little time left for praying.
Think through these questions with your church in mind. While you can learn from what others do, begin with where your people are and go from there.