Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Inner~Views: Serving Your Pastor

Mike, how long have you focused your ministry on pastors and what compelled you to pursue this course?

I have had an intern by my side for much of my ministry, but the last 14 years I have really focused on pastors and helping them to succeed. One day, while ministering to a pastor, he looked me in the eye and said, "I believe God wants you to work with pastors full time. Will you pray about it?" Throughout the next three weeks as I prayed, I had at least six different pastors ask me if I had thought about working with pastors full time. I shared what I was sensing from the Lord with my church leadership and they affirmed that they saw the call on my life. So in January of 2005, I started Pastors Heart 2 Heart to spend all my time mentoring and coaching pastors. I love helping pastors thrive and not just survive.

There is a need to help pastors succeed. Three out of five pastors are fired or quit the ministry within the first five years after seminary. They need help during those first years. If I can help them get started correctly, maybe we can keep more in the ministry. It is imperative that we do so. In the Southern Baptist Convention in the next nine years, 85 percent of the pastors will be retirement age. If we do not keep more young pastors in ministry, we could be looking at a pastoral leadership crisis in the coming years.

You have facilitated many pastors' prayer retreats. What is the most significant surprise you’ve had while listening to pastors pray?

A majority of them have no idea how to pray for their church, and they do not know how to lead their church to become a praying church. I have surveyed hundreds of pastors asking them what they pray for during Wednesday prayer meetings. About 90 percent of the churches only pray for the sick during this time. A few pray for the lost, the government, the soldiers, and revival. But these are a tiny minority. They are not using the primary night that was set up for prayer to pray for the kingdom or to confess the sins of the church and ask God to make them the church He called them to be. Is it any wonder the churches are not seeing advances in the kingdom? They are not even asking God to do His work so the church can be effective.

What is it that every prayer leader needs to know about their pastor and the pressures they face?

The pastor is the biggest target in the church for Satan and disgruntled church members. Even though he is not perfect, he is still on the front line and needs your support. He gets probably 10 to 20 criticisms for every compliment. The compliments tend to be very general, such as “good sermon today” or “You're doing a good job.” So when he walks away he is wondering what about the sermon or job was good. So the compliment does not really encourage. On the other hand, the criticisms are very specific, “I didn’t like your comment about women today” or “That interpretation of verse 11 is wrong.” Pastors need people to pray for them. Pray that your pastor will keep his eyes on God and not all the distractions and discouragement sent his way.

The relationship pressures on a pastor are unimaginable. Look at it this way. Imagine working with 100 people and each one of them wants your time, for you to serve him and meet all of his needs. Each one of them has his agenda for your life and each one will tell you what they want and when you let him down. Also recognize that if seven of those people do not like you for some reason, they can make your life so miserable that you will want to quit. And if you do not quit, they can get you fired. This is the reality of many small church pastors. Is it any wonder they become people pleasers instead of God pleasers? The other alternative is to give up and quit. Only about seven percent hang in there and try to please God instead of man. Why do I say seven percent? Because according to George Barna (a nationally known pollster), only seven percent of pastors make it to 30 years in ministry.

How do prayer leaders inadvertently add to the pressure?

The pastor may know he needs to pray and wants to pray but everything will work against his praying. He may have people asking him for his prayer requests and he wants to give them to them but the one thing he will forget week after week is to give them the prayer requests. As associate pastor in one of my churches, I started the prayer ministry. But I never could remember to turn in my prayer requests to my prayer team. I could remember everything else! I would put it on my calendar. I would have reminders, but it was as though I could not see them. Is there a battle going on or what? Do not be critical of him and judge him. Come alongside and encourage him. Then drag those requests out of him and pray for him no matter what. He needs those prayers to succeed.

Prayer leaders also add pressure by expecting the pastor to meet their agenda for prayer. The pastor may be praying, but they want him at their prayer meeting on their time schedule. He may be 100 percent behind their prayer meeting, but that is not where the Lord wants him to be physically at that time. I established the prayer ministry and prayer rooms at Providence Baptist Church when I was associate pastor there and faithfully prayed in it. When I started Pastors Heart 2 Heart and came back to the Providence as a member, I joined the prayer room and was faithful for the first year. But the second year, God had me praying with pastors all over the state at my hour and I missed more than half my scheduled hours. When I saw how much I was going to miss, God released me to give up my time in the prayer room so someone else could have that hour. God was still calling me to pray, but not in that location at that time. If the prayer room people had not understood, they could have made me feel incredibly guilty. I am blessed with mature believers who understand and support me in this new assignment. They also understand that although I am not in the prayer room, it does not lessen my commitment to prayer.

Share several practical action steps a congregational prayer leader can take to personally encourage the pastor.

Set up regular appointments where you go in and pray for your pastor. Make them as short or as long as he wants them to be. For example, when you go in, you could ask, “Pastor do you have any specific requests for me?” If not, then you should have already asked God to reveal how you are to pray for him right then. Pray for God’s blessings, for discernment, for the fruit of the spirit, encouragement, spiritual maturity and wisdom to make Godly decisions. Pray he would have God’s vision for the church and for the leaders to support him. Pray for those things that will advance God’s kingdom in his life, his family, and the church.

Ask the pastor to choose some people he would like to come to a prayer time just for the pastor two to four times a year. This is an opportunity for a group to spend as much time as the pastor wants praying for him and his God-given vision for the church. It could last anywhere from an hour to all day. I always left those prayer times strengthened and encouraged as I poured out my heart for myself, my family and the church, and they would cover those issues in prayer. It has to be a group he chooses: people that he is comfortable sharing with and can trust that it will not leave that room. This group also can begin to pray for him daily from the requests the leader gets from the pastor each week.

The most powerful preaching I have done is when I have a group of people in another room or in the worship center who are praying for me as I preach. They can pray weekly or once a month depending on the number of people and the calling on their lives. I know at my home church when the college kids pray, God does extraordinary things in the service. They have people who pray regularly, but they also ask the Sunday school classes to rotate through and pray.

How can we go about establishing more prayer in the church?

Start by looking at the prayer times you already have and see how to strengthen them. If there are Sunday morning prayers, consider the following: Are they kingdom prayers or do they just a rehash of the same thing week in and week out? How do these prayers advance God’s kingdom? How do they bring God glory? What is the focus: our wants or God and His glory? Who is praying those prayers? Are they people filled with the spirit or people of position only? If the wrong kind of prayers are being prayed, the pastor or key lay people need to start modeling the right kind of prayers. This is important because prayer is more “caught” than taught.

One of the most inefficient prayer techniques is a common one. It is a waste of good prayer time when a group goes around a circle and talks about prayer requests with someone taking notes. Then, one person prays at the end. You spend 20 minutes talking about prayer and 2 minutes praying. Teach your people to write out their requests ahead of time and hand them in before you start the meeting. It makes them be specific and concise in their request. Then pass them out to people willing to pray out loud for them. It is difficult to get them to do this, but they can be taught, and the results are worth it. You can spend 20 minutes praying instead of two.

Another approach is to teach your people to pray their requests one at a time in short prayers. They pray the request and then others join them in short prayers praying for that request before another request is brought up. When there is a long enough pause to know all have prayed through that request then someone new introduces their request in prayer. This way you get directly to what is to be prayed for without all the discussion that goes with most prayer requests.

Have a yearly prayer emphasis. Churches that understand the importance of prayer to the success of their church will spend two to four weeks a year in a concerted and organized prayer emphasis through all their organizations such as Sunday preaching, Sunday School, small groups, conferences and guest speakers.

Take your pastor and leadership to churches that really have prayer as a foundation of their church such as Providence Baptist in Raleigh, NC; Biltmore Baptist in Asheville, NC; Bethany Christian Center in Baker, LA; and Champion Forest Baptist in Houston, TX are a few of these.

If your church has Wednesday evening prayer, make sure it becomes a real prayer time and not just another teaching time when you pray for the sick.

The most important thing for you to do as the prayer leader is to pray and ask God to reveal His desire for your church and your situation. This means seeking God in prayer and fasting about the condition of your church and what He wants to do through you to correct it.

Every prayer leader needs to develop the skill of facilitating corporate prayer. What have you learned about this difficult but essential skill?

Ninety percent or more of the pastors I have worked with need help with congregational prayer. If pastors are struggling in this area, you can imagine that most congregations are clueless. Therefore, without strong leading by the facilitator, the corporate prayer times will be self-centered times of seeking the hand of God instead of seeking the face of God. People naturally focus on themselves: their hurts and needs. The leader has to purposely lead them to focus on Christ and His kingdom.

Here is my suggestion. Use worship times to point people to Christ. Too many times in our worship we talk about Christ but never to Him. Use the example in Psalms 100:4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name (NASU) to guide you in this. Sing about something we can be thankful for, His soul cleansing blood. Pause and let the people thank God one at a time out loud for His blessings. Sing a song of adoration such as Praise, to the Lord the Almighty. There are many great choruses and scripture songs available for adoration. Next, have the people praise God one at a time for his attributes: His love, mercy, grace, knowledge, wisdom, being all knowing, etc. Afterwards, sing another song about loving Jesus and have the people tell God why they love him. For example, “Jesus I love you because…” and fill in the blank. This helps them focus on God . It also prepares them to hear from God and what is on His mind. Then, spend some time in silence with an open Bible asking God to speak to them. For example, “Lord what’s on your heart?” After giving them time to respond one at a time or silently to what God has been saying to them from the Bible or in their spirit. I would encourage you to pray out loud as much as possible. Those prayers we voice out loud are the most heartfelt and accurate. Don’t be surprised as the congregation matures to begin to hear a lot of confession during this time. If the congregation is not on praying ground, ask them to ask God to search their hearts and see if there are any sins that need to be confessed. Give them time to confess to God.

After a time of worship, it is so important for the leader to guide them into kingdom praying. Begin to give them areas to pray for that God has revealed to you. You have spent time with God asking Him to reveal the sins of the church to you. These are sins that are keeping it from being the New Testament church it is supposed to be. Ask Him to show you what the church should reflect instead of that sin. For instance:

Sin to confess What the church should reflect

Unforgiveness Forgiveness
Robbing God Tithers/generosity
Critical Spirit Wholesome speech/ building up
Gossip Those who speak the truth in love
Complacency full of passion, zeal for God
Lack of knowledge full of the knowledge of God

The list could go on. You can find what to pray for in scriptures such as Col. 1:9-12, 2 Thess. 1:11, John 17, and Eph. 3:14-17. Nehemiah 1 also shows us an example of this kind of praying. Nehemiah identified with the sins of the people and his own sins (v. 6). These sins needed to be confessed, and he prayed toward the solution of the problems those sins had caused (v. 11) so that the people could reflect a godly assembly.

Also, notice Nehemiah’s attitude as he prayed. Nehemiah 1:4 says, “When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” If you want to see God work and change your church, you must have the attitude expressed by Nehemiah: weeping, mourning, praying and fasting until he heard from God. Why would he do that? Because he saw the condition of the people as they really were and it broke his heart to the point he was determined to do something even though he had a good life as the cup bearer to the king. When we see the condition of the church as it really is, how can we not weep, mourn, pray and fast?

When you do weep, mourn, and fast in prayer God will begin to reveal some things:

    He will show you what you need to be and what you need to do.

    He will show you what the people need to be and what they need to do.

    He will show you what only God can do and what you need to leave in his hands.

(Daniel 9 is another model of this kind of praying.)

So as you lead the church in prayer, you would ask them to see if that sin is a problem in their life. If so, confess it for yourself and the church. Then begin to ask God to replace it with the character trait God wants the church to have.

For example, confess unforgiveness, and then choose to start forgiving everyone that you need to forgive and ask God to do it through you and the church. If you and your church really begin to pray these kinds of prayers, there will be a new freedom and the lifting of the weight of sin. As you are praying like this, if there is a sense of condemnation or guilt then you are missing the point. If there is not joy and freedom, then you have not prayed correctly yet. When you and the church begin to pray this way, the church will start acting like the New Testament church.

Mike, please write a prayer on behalf of congregational prayer leaders and their pastors.

Lord, slow us down long enough to talk to you. Remind us that apart from you we can do nothing of eternal value. Call us to such an intimate relationship with you that prayer is as natural as breathing. Lord, may we do more listening to you so we will know what your agenda is. Forgive us for coming up with our own agenda and asking you to bless it.

O Lord, break my heart for the condition of the church. Forgive me for just accepting the failures and sins of the church as though things will never change. Lord, you are the God that is bigger than all our sins. The church is your bride and your desire is even more than my desire is to see the bride of Christ, holy and pure before her Lord. Lord begin to show me the sinful condition of my church that we may confess our sins and begin to pray that the church will reflect the glory of Christ. Lord, show me my sin that I might confess it and return to you.

Oh Lord, give us a church that is (Col. 1:9-11)

    Filled with the knowledge of God (v. 9)

    Walking in a way worthy of God, pleasing him, fruitful in good works, increasing in knowledge of God. (v. 10)

    Strengthened with all power, attaining steadfastness and patience with joyfulness. (v.11)

A church that is (2 Thess. 1:11)

    Worthy of her calling

    Fulfilling every desire for goodness.

    Fulfilling the work of faith in our life.

    Working in power in our life.

A church that is (John 17)

    Kept in God’s name and is one (v. 11)

    Has God’s joy made full (v. 13)

    Kept from the evil one (v. 15)

    Set apart by your word (v. 17)

    One as Father and Son are in each other, may the church be one in them (v.21)

    Has Jesus’ glory on them (v. 22)

    Filled with the fullness of God (v. 24)

A church that is (Eph. 3:14-19)

    Strengthened in the inner man (v.16)

    Christ dwells in their hearts through faith (v.17)

    Knows the love of Christ (v. 18-19)

    Filled to all the fullness of God (v. 18-19)

O Lord, I thank you that you hear this prayer because I know it is your will that your church be this way. Make it so Lord for your glory. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray. AMEN.

Mike Sparks
Pastors Heart 2 Heart
5205 Tomahawk Tr., Raleigh
NC 27610
919-773-9656 Work / 919-631-1641 Cell

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RESOURCE: Teaching Youth to Pray

Don't read chapter eight!

...unless you want to discover how to motivate youth into Christ-centered prayer.

Presence-Centered Youth Ministry

Guiding Students into Spiritual Formation

By Mike King
book cover

How many programs does it take to change a youth group?

That question has bothered youth workers for decades, and the cracks in its logic are beginning to show. In place of the contrived, artificial mechanisms employed so widely in modern youth outreach and discipleship, Mike King proposes a ministry centered in the presence of God.

Young people encounter Christ not in the flash and pop of arena ministry, but in the sacred shadow of his presence. They learn what it is to love and follow Christ by observing others loving and following Christ--letting Christ shape their worldviews, their habits, their virtues. Presence-Centered Youth Ministry gives shape to such ministry through the classic disciplines and potent symbols and practices that have sustained the church over the centuries.

The sound and fury that has characterized youth ministry for so long has left too many youth workers tired and too many young people disillusioned. Come explore the deeper terrain; your students are sure to follow.

IVP Extra!

Visit the YouthFront website for more information.

Read King's blog.

Table of Contents & Book Excerpts »

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Clergy Appreciation Month Ends Tomorrow

The Presidential Prayer Team Email Header

Have you told your pastor, chaplain, youth leader or other clergy how you’ve been touched by their ministry?

Pastoral leadership at any level is difficult and challenging. They are at the front lines of ministry and prayer in our country. But your testimony conveying how your life in the Lord has been impacted by their good work will mean a great deal. Your word of encouragement today will strengthen your pastor as they face challenges daily.

Consider those who minister to you, whether pastors, chaplains or church staff. They are at the front lines of ministry and prayer in our country. How has your life in the Lord been impacted by their good work?

Two days remain in October—Clergy Appreciation Month—a great time to encourage those who minister to you. Take a moment to send this special PPT encouragement eCard today! It includes the message of I Thessalonians 1:3: We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

With gratitude for my pastor and yours,

John Lind

About The Presidential Prayer Team:
Member Service Center: Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm (MST)
Email: Info@PresidentialPrayerTeam.org
Phone: 866-433-PRAY Fax: 520-797-7176

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Make A Room For Prayer

Making Prayer Visible

“Making prayer visible in our churches makes it more likely to happen and encourages more people to participate. We must do everything we can to make prayer appealing, from investing first-class prayer materials to raising up comfortable, inviting places for people to seek God. Prayer does not have to be mercenary in order to be spiritual.” Terry Teykl

Making prayer visible will help promote prayer and intercession in your church. There is something that is extremely motivational when we see a place that is designated for prayer and for prayer alone. Recently we were in a large church in Mexico that had a wonderful prayer room and it was called “Casa de Oracion“ (House of Prayer in Spanish). My husband and I were staying for a week in their guest apartment not far from that prayer room. I remember hearing the loud prayers of the pastoral staff and at another time awaking to the fervent prayers of the youth in that church. What a pleasant joy to hear the cries of passionate prayer in a room designated and designed just for the purpose of prayer. It was powerful - it was strategic - it was inviting - it was fruitful! That church is seeing 35-50 individuals accept the Lord every Sunday! In addition, they have churches planted throughout the city of Puebla, Mexico which are equally fruitful! When we make prayer visible in our churches, God makes His name known throughout the city.

Making prayer visible can touch the lives of the lost in a most amazing way. Terry Teykl shares a testimony about prayer when his small church was in an obscure storefront along a small strip of businesses. He was praying alone at 10:00 AM when suddenly a man came to the door wanting to find Christ. This happened again at 4:00 PM when he was praying alone at the church during the next week. He was the pastor, and this happened without him preaching. God was speaking to him and said, “If you will find Me, others will find you.”

“Prayer evangelism works. When we pray targeting the Great Commission, people are drawn to Christ, not by our sign or our building, but by the Holy Spirit.” Terry Teykl

Why a Prayer Room?

“Prayer must have organization and accountability to be effective. The greater the order, the more likely the ministry will last.” Dutch Sheets

The above testimony is one big reason why we should have a prayer room in all of our churches. But there are many additional reasons. Here are a few:

* You can schedule prayer in a systematic way - Prayer does not happen if you don’t plan it. There are too many things that will crowd in for your attention because the devil will always try to keep you too busy. A prayer room provides a regular place to pray consistently. Scheduled prayer is Biblical!

* You have a place where prayer can be practiced and can grow - Everyone needs to grow in prayer, even well-seasoned intercessors. When there is a place where individuals know they can go and pray at almost any time, it becomes a tremendous encouragement for growth in prayer. It becomes your church’s prayer training center!

* You have a room where everyone can come to one place to pray - This becomes a place where the presence of God is nurtured. How much easier it is to pray spontaneously when everyone knows where to go and when everyone knows that it is the place where God’s presence dwells.

* You have a room where prolonged, persevering prayer can be encouraged - Prayer rooms encourage perseverance and become places of breakthrough. God answers persistent prayer, and this takes time. A prayer room can make all the difference in creating this type of environment.

* You can promote the church’s vision for prayer in a tangible way - This also becomes an encouragement to your city of the importance your church places on prayer. Prayer becomes central to your church and others learn of it both inside and outside your church walls.

* You can record and remember God’s answers to prayer as a church - Often it is easy to forget God’s answers to our prayers. But when there is a place where you can record His answers, your church become more thankful. This encourages fervent praise.

* You can gather prayer requests from your church congregation to pray over - This promotes agreement in prayer. It is easy to forget to pray for a particular need because the distractions of life are so demanding. But when the requests are gathered and displayed in the prayer room, there is a tangible reminder of the need to pray for specific requests.

* You have a control center for the strategic prayer ministries in your church - Prayer becomes central to your church. All the ministries represented in your church know that they have a place where they can gather to pray for the needs of their particular focus. This empowers every ministry in your church, whether it be evangelistic, youth oriented or for the children.

“One of the simplest and yet most profound things a prayer room offers is a place to be alone and still before God. It promotes humility and a visible dependence on God. Prayer rooms also generate and facilitate other prayer ideas given by the Holy Spirit to affect the whole ministry of the church in the community.” Terry Teykl

Last Sunday our pastor preached a message on prayer in a most amazing way. He preached only for 15 minutes about prayer, using the example of Daniel. He then stressed that we probably don’t need to hear another sermon on prayer, but we need to pray! We then practiced various methods of prayer - prayer for the nation, group prayer, silent prayer and prayer together with worship (“Harp and Bowl”). It was powerful - it was strategic - it was inviting - it was fruitful! All the prayer meetings in the church were printed in the bulletin, and church members were invited to participate. This can be an initial step in making prayer visible in your church because you begin to spark an interest in the powerful ministry of prayer.

Aren’t you convinced? Will you not consider and pray towards making prayer visible and having a prayer room in your church? Designating a room for prayer is of great value and extremely strategic for any church. If you put a high priority on prayer, I promise you that God will use your church in a most powerful way. When God enters into our every purpose, we enter into His Kingdom plans for our church, our community, city and nation.

“It is not enough for the pastor to pray fervently, or is it sufficient for a leadership team to pray ardently on behalf of the congregation. Until the church owns prayer as a world-class weapon in the battle against evil and cherishes prayer as a means of intimate and constant communication with God, the turn-around efforts of a Body are severely limited, if not altogether doomed to failure.” George Barna

Together in the Harvest, Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise
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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

RESOURCE ~ Bridging the Gap: Pastors & Intercessors

Intercessors & Pastors

America’s future rests in the hands of God’s praying people. Even God’s hands are tied if we don’t pray effectively!

As we rebuild the spiritual walls of our cities, watchmen and gatekeepers (intercessors and pastors) must learn to work together in a meaningful partnership. Their respect for and effective communication with each other is critical if the Church is to regain her spiritual integrity, to glorify Christ and demolish the gates of hell.

In our book “Intercessors and Pastors: The Emerging Partnership of Watchmen and Gatekeepers” you will:

+ Learn why division between pastors and intercessors is found the world over, and how it can be resolved.
+ Discover the keys to developing strategic relationships that will be able to withstand the assaults of hell.
+ Read what the future holds for this powerful partnership!

==> Let the Healing Begin
==> The City Walls
==> The Ancient Gates
==> Watchmen and Gatekeepers
==> Becoming a House of Prayer
==> Understanding Intercessors
==> What Intercessors Need from Their Pastors
==> What Pastors Need from Their Intercessors
==> The Conclusion of History

101 Ways to Mobilize Prayer
Pastoral/Church Covenant for Prayer Journey Participants
Team Covenant for Prayer Journey Participants
Personal Information Form for Prayer Journey Participants

What Some Christian Leaders are Saying About This Book:

Pat Robertson, CEO, Christian Broadcasting Network says, “I believe every
Christian leader and praying Christian will find this book helpful in fueling the
Great Commission of our Lord."

Paul Cedar, CEO, Mission America says, “This is the book that many of
us have been waiting for. I believe that the linking of the ministries of the
pastor and intercessor is vitally important for the advancement of our
Lord’s Kingdom.”

Cindy Jacobs, co-founder, Generals of Intercession says, “This is a
remarkable book. God is going to use it to bring the healing between
intercessors and pastors that I have longed for.”

Order Yours Today! Cut at paste this line (all of it) into your web browser.

For a limited time--
Save 15% when you redeem this discount code: upcdiscount
Or order by phone, call toll free: 1-800-569-4825
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The book is $13.00, +$4 S&H. (Add $2 S&H for each additional book)

Blessings, Eddie and Alice
Equipping Saints for the Work of Ministry

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Inner~Views: Secrets & Skills for Leading Prayer

Prayer Leader Interviewed Lowell Snow

author of

Lowell, in your manual for leading prayer, you werite "the purpose of this book is to help others talk with God" ... Who did you have in mind?

Every follower of Christ eventually leads prayer. My Prayer Guide book starts with the prayer basics that a soccer mom might need to lead a prayer on the sideline before the game and concludes with leading congregational prayer in the heart of a worship service. Between those extremes are chapters on many prayer leadership opportunities from leading a Bible study class prayer time to praying for someone who’s experienced a tragedy.

I’ve asked many pastors if they had training in leading corporate prayer while earning their college and seminary degrees. Very few have. This lack of training has filtered down through the laity to the point that most churches don’t have anyone who’s proficient in this important skill. That’s why most group prayer is just an extension of monologue prayer, what I call spiritual speeches aimed in God’s direction. That’s all folks know how to do.

For many, just a casual reading of this book will open doors of understanding simply because it’s the first training they’ve ever head. For those who are ambitious to lead life-changing group encounters with the Almighty, a thorough study will introduce them to group prayer possibilities they’ve never realized.

You identify three distinct stages of corporate prayer. What are they and why are they each strategic to prayer leaders?

Virtually every aspect of the Christian life is a pilgrimage. Our pilgrimage of public prayer should progress through three distinct stages of ability: saying, leading, and guiding.

Saying a first public prayer can be one of the most frightening experiences of the Christian life. For some, it rates right up there with witnessing. The insights and practical guidance found in the early chapters of the Prayer Guide book will calm these fears. More importantly, the novice prayer leader will learn to become a channel of God’s grace into any situation.

Leading group prayer is the next part of the journey. This may be as private as leading bedtime prayers or as public as a large Bible class praying over a list of requests. With some of the greatest prayer promises being directed at those who pray together in harmony, we should consider this skill central to spiritual life and health.

Becoming a prayer guide is the final and most productive segment of the pilgrimage, but one that many never achieve because they don’t realize it exists. Whereas in the previous step, the prayer leader is a kind of prayer administrator, the prayer guide is more of a facilitator. He or she stays in the background, prompting and encouraging as the entire group communes with the Heavenly Father.

Think of it like this. A leader could take a group of healthy people up a path to the summit of a 10,000 ft. mountain. Because the leader is walking ahead, the only requirement of the group is to walk and follow. They may enjoy the view, but won’t experience true mountain climbing. To take the same group to the top of a 20,000 ft. mountain would require a guide who was willing to come along side them and actually teach them the skill of mountain climbing.

The first chapter of the Prayer Guide book points out that a conversational relationship with God is the high mountain that the Heavenly Father is determined that we all will climb. To bring a group of people into that kind of life changing prayer encounter is not the work of a novice. For prayer warriors who are ambitious for life-changing group prayer; the way of the Prayer Guide should be their goal.

Play the 1-2-3 game with me;
1. What is the one most difficult barrier prayer leaders face?

In my situation, the greatest barrier is the unconscious belief by most that they already know everything they need to know about prayer. Prayer is talking to God; what else could I need to know?

When I begin a prayer conference, the people are usually expecting me to beat them over the head with my Bible and admonish them for not praying enough or hard enough. When I take them in an entirely different direction, their eyes start to light up and they begin to feel a fresh wind blowing.

I’ll never forget a worship leader at one of my first prayer conferences. It was a large contemporary congregation and he was very gifted in leading exciting, powerful, praise. He had been very cooperative and the Sunday services had been really great, but I could tell he wasn’t getting it. It was like he wasn’t really listening.

On Monday afternoon as I taught the staff about the House of Prayer, he dutifully took notes near the head of the conference table. I’ll never forget the moment when the light came on. He spoke without looking up from his notes. He had laid down his pen and was sitting straight up on the edge of his chair, both hands on the edge of the table, starring at the notepad as if peering into the eyes of a newborn baby. “This is a paradigm shift in our understanding of prayer in worship. This isn’t what we ever done before.”

2. Identify two of the most effective methods prayer leaders should be proficient at.

Two methods I use constantly are Scriptural meditation and prayer by suggestion. They are simple and effective, but seem to be new to most prayer leaders.

Scriptural meditation is simply asking the group to listen to a scripture after they bow their heads. I use short verses that are easy to understand and I usually read them two or three times, putting different inflection on the words each time. The purpose is to focus their attention on the things of God.

Prayer by suggestion is deffinantly a new concept for most. The method here is to guide the group in silent prayers by making suggestions out loud. I usually suggest praise and thanksgiving first, then confession, petition, and supplication in that order. This gets the whole group praying, not just those who are comfortable praying out loud. It also allows folks to talk with the Lord about things they wouldn’t pray about publicly.

On my web site, www.leadingprayer.com, I have an audio recording which includes both of these types of prayer.

3. Describe three skills that are essential for guiding group prayer

An effective prayer leader has a conversational relationship with God, understands his role as a New Testament Priest, and is prepared.

Leading prayer has more to do with the spiritual life of the leader than the leader’s mastery of any methods or techniques. Being a prayer warrior begins in the closet at home, not the prayer chapel at the church. We learn everything we need to ‘know’ about God from scripture, but we can’t ‘know’ Him without prayer. A prayer leader will have a hard time guiding a group into the presence of God if he’s not a frequent guest in the throne room himself.

The moment Jesus died on the cross; the Heavenly Father ripped open the veil separating the Holy of Holies. That means every follower of Christ has an audience with God which makes us New Testament priests. We should revel in this opportunity to not only pray for the needs of others, but also guide them into the presence of our Abba Father.

There was a time in my life when it offended me if people who weren’t living for Christ asked me to pray about their problems. I felt that they should get their lives right with God so they could pray for themselves. I was being a modern Pharisee instead a channel of the Father’s grace.

Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing well and anything worth doing well requires preparation. Prayer is no exception. Whether it’s two weeks of preparation for a cottage prayer meeting or two seconds of preparation before the offertory prayer; the prayer leader needs to prepare their heart and mind before entering the presence of God.

I teach folks to imagine themselves in the throne room of heaven, on their knees, with their group gathered around them. Then they need to ask themselves, “Why am I here?” That’s why am I here in the throne room of God, not why am I here in this committee meeting or worship service.

What wisdom can you share with:
-A pastor who wants to saturate his/her church with corporate prayer...

Dear pastor,
Your congregation wants to talk with God, but they don’t want to be bored and most of them don’t want to pray out loud. The Barna research group found in a national survey that congregants rate prayer at the top of the list of what they want in worship. Prepare for your Sunday morning prayer time as diligently as you prepare your sermon. Be creative. Dare to be different. Get a vision of the throne room and guide your people to it. In one of the last chapters of the book, I point out that:
* There’s nothing nearer to the heart of God than His people’s prayers
* There’s nothing more worshipful than God’s people praying
* There’s no better time to unleash the power of prayer than during worship

Look at last Sunday’s order of worship and evaluate what importance you gave to prayer. Was there an effective prayer time at the heart of worship or was it used as book end for other things.

If you’ll bring effective congregational prayer to the heart of your worship, it will begin to filter into all aspects of church life, which brings me to a second point. Realize that your people need to be trained in effective prayer leadership. I’m sorry to be self serving, but I really believe God gave me the book, Prayer Guide – A Manual for Leading Prayer, to help you accomplish this. Go to my web site, www.leadingprayer.com, and look at the ‘Contents’ page of the book. You’ll see that it’s set up for a five week study and even has study questions at the end of each chapter.

-A prayer coordinator who has more responsibility than authority to lead...

Dear fellow servant of Christ,
Just because your pastor doesn’t know you exist, doesn’t mean your Heavenly Father doesn’t. I’m very aware that many, if not most, prayer coordinators are under… well under-everything: under funded, under equipped, under appreciated, and under acknowledged.

However, focusing on that temporal reality only leads to frustration, depression, and doubt. You will do well to meditate on Christ’s parable of the talents. The key is faithfulness with the talent He has placed in your hand, not what you could do if He had given you more authority.

Focus on people’s needs. Be an under-shepherd to your prayer team. Do your job well and keep getting better. Pay attention to details. Look for opportunities to fellowship with positive prayer coordinators even if it’s only online. Stay away from whiners.

Be an information provider. If you see something that would be really helpful to your pastor; clip it, highlight it, and see that it gets to his desk. Don’t hand it to him in the hall. Do the same for the Worship Leader, Bible study leaders, etc.

Do what counts and forget the flashy stuff. It’s infinitely more important that a prayer ministry puts their heads together and prays, then sends a cheep hand written card to that person in need, than it is to do it in a $100,000 prayer chapel.

-An intercessor who has neither authority or responsibility...

Dear prayer warrior,
Prayer is about needs. Focus on people and their needs. Connect with them in any way that’s appropriate. If possible, send them a postcard letting them know how you’re praying for them. If you have opportunity, put your hand on their shoulder and tell them that you’re praying for them and ask if there’s anything specific they would like you to pray for.

Faith counts with God. Believe big. Don’t be afraid to pray bigger than your faith. That’s how your faith grows and how you get to know God better.

Agreement counts with God too. For the really tough stuff, scripture tells us to pray in agreement with another follower of Christ. Talk with this person, read scripture together, and learn to pray conversationally; that is, pray short prayers back and forth about one subject at a time.

If you have a spiritual gift for intercession, don’t let anything get in your way. Continue to be a channel of God’s grace and power no matter what goes on around you. Get a vision of the spiritual war that attends your prayer life and go to the front lines.

Lowell, please write a prayer for prayer leaders that will encourage them to move ahead with diligence and determination...

Dear Heavenly Father,

I rejoice in Your willingness to welcome us into Your presence. Your grace and patience toward us continually amazes me. You are so wise, so holy, so strong.

I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust." (Ps 91:2 NKJV)

I want to pray today for those who’ve taken on the mantle of prayer leadership. They’re Your priests of grace in this rebellious and often cruel world. Some of them are beaten down and discouraged today. I pray that you might grant them a portion of your wisdom and strength.

I pray that they might have your wisdom to see through the haze of this world to the clarity of Your kingdom. May they be able to separate temporal from eternal. I pray that they might have strength to step on their discouragements as stepping stones to perseverance and patience. May our prayer bring glory to Jesus name, Amen.

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"Quote; Unquote"

"We pray because we can't help it."

Philip Yancey
Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?

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Repentance - What Are We REALLY Praying For?

Dr. Ray PritchardRay Proitchard - photo

In our day, and in our circles, the doctrine of repentance is not preache
d very often. There are several reasons for this. First, we live in a superficial age and any preaching of repentance is bound to cut through the superficiality. This is one point on which both liberals and conservatives share unspoken agreement—no one wants to go to church and hear hard truth from the pulpit, and repentance is the ultimate hard truth. Second, some evangelicals fear the preaching of repentance because they think it somehow opposes the gospel of grace. Their fears are justified if repentance is made to equal penance, the act whereby a man atones for his own sin. But that is not true biblical repentance. Where true repentance is preached, it actually promotes the grace of God.===>Click headline for complete article . . .

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Uncommon Prayer ~ Prayer Prompts for a "Christ is All!" Focus

Christ is All

“In the eternal counsel of God, in the redemption on the cross, as King on the throne in heaven and on earth, - Christ is all! In the salvation of sinners, in their justification and sanctification, in the upbuilding of Christ’s body, in the care for individuals, even the most sinful, - this world prevails, Christ is all. Every day and every hour, it affords comfort and strength to the child of God, who accepts it in faith: - Christ is all.” Andrew Murray

Dear Intercessors,

As you enter into this day, meditate on the reality that “Christ is all!” This reality should keep us steady in the midst of change, should keep us focused in the midst of so many options and should keep us rejoicing even in the midst of pain. Last night we were listening to some youthful music where the singer kept singing over and over again, “You are my One Thing”. As we went to bed, my husband said, “That phrase keeps running through my head!” The truth is that Jesus Christ is our one thing; He is everything. We must keep this continually before us on a daily basis - “You are my One Thing. You are my All!”

In our last letter, we looked at the supremacy of Christ and how Scripture presents His supremacy. Today we will look at how history and humanity presents His supremacy. Some of this material was from a message my husband, Norman, preached when we were living cross-culturally on the mission field. The word “supremacy” in Noah’s Dictionary gives this definition: “State of being supreme or in the highest station of power, highest authority or power, holding the highest place in government or power, highest, greatest or most excellent, in the highest degree, to the utmost extent, over, above and beyond.”

How History Presents His Supremacy

"This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all the philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator of poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, volumes, works of art and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times." Phillip Schaff

  • No one was born like He was.
  • No one spoke like He did.
  • No one could do what He did.
  • No one could claim absolute innocence like He did.
  • No one was tried for what they claimed to be like He was.
  • No one ever humbled himself as He did.
  • No one died like He did.
  • No one rose from the dead like He did.
  • No one's fame increased after his death as His did.
  • No one has changed the lives of so many people as He has.
  • No one changed history like He has.

"After 1900 years, Jesus Christ still counts for more in human life than any other man that ever lived." Dean Inge

How Humanity Presents His Supremacy

"When criticism has done its worst, the words and acts of our Lord which remain are not those of ‘a good and heroic man,’ but of one deliberately claiming unique authority and insight, and - conscious of a unique destiny.” C. S. Lewis

  • Proof of His followers - Of the twelve men He discipled, eleven were martyrs on the basis of two things: the resurrection and their belief in Him as the Son of God.

  • Proof of His enemies - Christ is often portrayed as being a little baby in a manger or a poor weak man hanging on a cross and the devil has done all he can to mar the truth of what he really is.

  • Proof of the world - He was a good man, He was a good teacher, a prophet and a religious leader.

Open the Eyes of our Heart

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power, and dominion and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come" (Ephesians 1:18-21).

We must pray that the reality of the supremacy of Christ would affect His Church worldwide. We must pray that Christ is all and that “You are my One Thing” is true for each one of us. This is more important than any of us can presently comprehend. Therefore, we must pray this reality into the life of every intercessor and Christian. Take time to praise, thank and pray for the following:

  • Worship Jesus Christ for His position of supreme authority in Ephesians 1:20-21 - Christ is the supreme Ruler over all rulers, the supreme King over all kingdoms, and the supreme Governor over all governments. Pray that all believers would realize this. See Philippians 3:20 and Psalm 103:19.

  • Pray that believers would comprehend the magnitude of what it means that “Christ is All” - This revelation cannot come by natural reasoning or by head knowledge. Christ’s authority is now supreme over the universe and that same power that raised Christ to that position of authority now works in us who believe.

  • Praise Jesus that He rules now in the midst of his enemies - Christ’s Kingdom is supreme. Jesus rules by “the rod of His strength” (Psalm 110:2). The rod is the mark of the ruler’s authority. The rod of Christ’s authority, exercised in His name, is sent forth through our prayers. In every direction that the rod is extended, the forces of evil are compelled to yield, and Christ in turn is exalted and His kingdom advanced.” Derek Prince

  • Pray that believers would live out the reality of Christ’s supremacy in their daily lives - Pray that “You are my One Thing” becomes true for the entire body of Christ.

  • Praise God that it is His purpose to share the authority of His kingdom with His people - Pray that all Christians worldwide would understand and lay hold of the reality of Christ’s Kingdom. We are made alive, raised up and enthroned in the heavenly kingdom. It has already been accomplished (past tense). This is the position He shares with us. Pray Ephesians 2:4-6 over the Church.

  • Pray that we as believers would know our position in Christ at God’s right hand - Pray that we would understand our rights and responsibilities as citizens of heaven. Pray that God’s Spirit would reveal this to each one of us. See I Corinthians 2:9-10.

"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way“ (Ephesians 1:22-23).

Jesus Christ holds the highest place. He is above and beyond everything else, and He is supreme to the utmost extent. If Jesus was God as He claimed to be, and is God being raised from the dead, and will forever be God in mercy and wrath; when we call Him Lord, it should produce a marked difference in our conduct, values, study and passion. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are ridiculous to be living for such a Savior and not believe that He is willing to do all that we ask and pray. Something inside us should quake, something should beam, and something should bow in awe. Can you say to Jesus Christ today, “You are my One Thing!” “You are my All!”

If you are interested in joining us in Spain for 24-7 prayer and training in November, see www.campo247.com.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Together in the Harvest,

Debbie Przybylski

Intercessors Arise



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Church Prayer Leaders Network ~ New Feature

New Member Feature Begins This Next Week

Many of you, our prayer leaders, are struggling in your ministries. Often you need to "go it alone" in your role of growing prayer in your church. We want to be an encouragement to you, both by connecting you with others and by praying with and for you.

Beginning this Thursday evening, October 19th, and then running every third Thursday of each month, we will be hosting a telephone prayer meeting designed just for you! The subject matter each month is problems you are experiencing as prayer leaders in growing prayer in your churches. There will be a format where you will remain fairly anonymous.

The prayer times will be led by Sandra Higley, our director of member relations and the co-founder of Pray! magazine. We encourage you to join in the call (we ask that this be for CPLN members only).

Time: 8:30 EST
Date: Thursday, October 19
===>Click headline to become a CPLN member . . .
Pass Code:

Sincerely, Jonathan Graf

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Friday, October 06, 2006

RESOURCE ~ Interactive Introductory Study for Prayer Class

Drawing Closer to God's Heart

A 12-Lesson Study Guide

God wants to talk with you, and He wildly anticipates those precious moments of communication with you. This book is a non-religious guide to understanding prayer that can be used by anyone regardless of where you are in your own journey of faith.

Prayer is a pipeline into God’s heart that often gets clogged up with meaningless thoughts and impressive words. In our book “Drawing Closer to God’s Heart” we will help you take a closer look at exciting, engaging prayer that ensures God’s attention and evokes His responses while cooperating with Him to accomplish His kingdom purposes on the earth. We take you from A to Z in the area of understanding prayer.

It’s time to lay aside old habits and to risk, stretch and ask God for new and fresh approaches to prayer.

  • Do you hunger for God’s presence?
  • Do you know what concerns Him?
  • He’d love for you to draw closer so He can tell you!

In this book you will learn how to make prayer a priority; how to hear what’s rumbling in God’s heart; and how to pray with purpose!

In “Drawing Closer to God’s Heart” we teach you the essence of spiritual warfare, binding and loosing, how to have a personal devotional time, what motivates you to pray. We show you how to pray according to God’s will, how to pray in the Spirit and much more.

ATTENTION LEADERS: We intentionally wrote this interactive book into 12 lessons for individual or small group study.

==> The Characteristics of Prayer
==> Prayer as Intercession
==> Our Motives for Praying
==> The God to Whom We Pray
==> People Who Pray
==> Overcoming the Hurdles
==> A Time and Place for Prayer
==> The Progress of Prayer
==> Empowering Our Prayer
==> Fasting and Prayer
==> Throne Room Prayer
==> Spiritual Warfare Prayer

The Purpose of Prayer
Why God Wants to Pray Through You
The Kinds of Prayer God Never Answers
How to Develop a Daily Personal Prayer Time
How to Hear God’s Voice
How to Use Prayer as a Weapon Against the Devil
Why Answers to Prayer are Sometimes Delayed
And much, much more

Order Yours Today! Cut at paste this line into your web browser.
For a limited time--
Save 15% when you redeem this discount code: upcdiscount
Or order by phone, call toll free: 1-800-569-4825
Or mail your check to: U.S. PRAYER CENTER, 7710-T Cherry Park Dr,
Ste 224, Houston, TX 77095
The book is $16.99, +$4 S&H. (Add $2 S&H for each additional book)

Blessings, Eddie and Alice
Equipping Saints for the Work of Ministry

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