Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Partnering in Prayer - A Lenten Devotion - Day 36 - Keep it Going...and Going...and Going...

Day 36
Keep it Going…and Going…and Going…

In his book, Fresh Encounters: Experiencing Transformation Through United Worship-Based Prayer, Daniel Henderson gives some suggestions for prayer ministries that you could have at your church. Yesterday we shared some of these ideas together. We talked about Powerhouse Prayer Meetings, Early Watch, Affinity Group Gatherings, Concerts of Prayer, and All Night Prayer Meetings. Here are a few more notions that just might get you excited about praying together.

Prayer Chains
We already have a phone tree for prayer requests at Antioch, but a prayer chain is a bit different. Our phone tree calls everybody more or less at the same time. With the prayer chain, one person calls another, and they pray together. Then the next person calls another, and they pray together, and so on. The strength of a prayer chain is that you get real people actually praying together, in real time. The weakness of a prayer chain is that when one link breaks down goes the whole chain. Henderson suggests that this is not a good tool to use as a foundation of a prayer ministry at your church. It is, he says, a good supplement to a broader prayer movement.

All-Church Weekly Prayer MeetingsThis is what we’re moving toward, with the new Renewal Services. These are great fere-flowing expressions of worship-centered prayer, interlaced with music, testimonies, scripture-sharing, and mutual teaching. Henderson says, “No two times are alike. This involves great sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading and praying as he directs (Henderson, 120).”

Home Prayer CellsPrayer does not have to happen in the church building. It cvan also occur in homes. These should be worship-based prayer meetings led by trained and experienced facilitators.

One model is called “Lighthouses of Prayer.” People gather in their homes to pray for their neighbors. Then they ask their neighbors if they have any requests that a group prays for their neighborhood. It is surprising how open nonChristians are to prayer (pg. 121).”

Twenty-four-hour Prayer Center/Call-in LineDon’t get scared. Nobody’s talking about staffing a phone line 24/7. For this ministry, Henderson suggests a dedicated phone line with an answering machine (there’s your 24/7!) that has a message specifically designed to take prayer requests. People can call the church and leave a prayer request at any time. Then, the room with the specially equipped phone is available whenever the church is open. If someone’s there, they can answer and pray with the person right then and there. If not, then the next person to come in writes down the requests in a notebook that people can use to pray for the phoned-in requests. The notebook is updated every two weeks.

Prayer Partners
(See day 13 of this devotion.)

Prayer Visitation Teams

It is what it sounds like—teams of people who visit with folks, specifically for the purpose of praying with them. This supplements the visitation work of the pastor and deacons. It’s also a great way to let the pastor and deacons know about needs that are discovered by the prayer team.

Prayer Retreats
This familiar format involves days away reserved for prayer with applied teaching in a retreat format. This combination of instruction, inspiration, and implementation is a good place to whet the appetite for prayer (pg. 123).Prayer Summits
Summits consist of a group of people getting away to a retreat center for multiple days to pray. There is no agenda and no teacher except the open Scripture and the holy Spirit (pg. 123).Personally, as I read Henderson’s book, I’m not sure what the difference is between a prayer summit and a prayer retreat. Either way, though—look for an opportunity for a prayer retreat/summit at Nags Head, sometime around Memorial Day of this year. We’re working on putting together a sweet package deal that will definitely get you excited about both the beach and about prayer.

Prayerwalking is also just what it sounds. You walk around a neighborhood, praying for those who live in each home you pass. If you know your neighbors, this is a great way to pray for them by name. If you don’t know them, this is a great opportunity to get to know them—especially as the weather warms up and people are out in their yards more. You could prayerwalk around a neighborhood, or around a government building while praying for your leaders. You could prayerwalk at your local school (with permission), or at the nearest shopping mall or shopping district, praying for the businesses and workers, shop owners and shoppers.

Prayer Driving
This is the same as prayerwalking, only it covers more ground. Why not load a group into the church van and go for a prayer drive together, praying out loud together for the people whose homes you pass?

Leadership Prayer Support
These are groups that are specifically dedicated to praying for church leadership—pastors, teachers, deacons, committee chairs, etc.

Prayer Chat Rooms
For the technologically adventurous, prayer chat rooms are part of a church’s regular website, for the use of church members and visitors to the site. This must be well-facilitated.

I’ll bet you could think of plenty more prayer ministries. These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of ways Christians can pray together. Maybe you’ve read one or two of these ideas and you’re saying to yourself, “This is exactly what we need at our church!” Or, maybe one of these suggestions has triggered a brand new idea for a prayer ministry. If God is prompting you (as I said yesterday), don’t say to your pastor, “Here’s an idea for a prayer ministry that you should start.” Instead, say, “Here’s an idea for a prayer ministry that’s on my heart to lead…could you help me by providing some prayer cover and resources as I get it started?”

I believe that, whether you follow these ideas or others, God has a great prayer ministry in store for you, and your church. If you’ve committed to praying for an hour a day, you’re already a prayer leader in your church.. Since you’re a prayer leader, God may be choosing you to usher others into a glorious new relationship with Him through prayer. I pray that you would be open to following as God leads.

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