Thursday, January 04, 2007

Inner~Views: Growing a Strong Prayer Ministry

Prayer Leader interviewed Carolyn Fuqua, Prayer Ministry Coordinator @ Biltmore Baptist Church

Prayer Leader ~ Carolyn, how long have you been Prayer Ministry Coordinator and what was the status of prayer when you stepped into that position?

For several years I had worked with the Pastor as a volunteer with the Prayer Ministry then came on staff January 2001. The Prayer Ministry, at that time it was the God's 600, was strong when I came on staff. This was due to the fact that our Pastor had given great leadership to it, and people were excited to pray and watch God great things in our midst. We had watched as Biltmore moved from the depths of despair to getting a glimpse of glory as God worked and moved among our people.

Our continuing goal is to recruit people to pray in small groups, as prayer partners over the telephone, or at home, using a Quarterly Prayer Guide. The Prayer Guide keeps us all focused on the same prayer prompts – the church objectives, ministries, missionaries and staff of the church. The Prayer Guide is published on a quarterly basis and calls attention to the goals and objectives we believe God gave us when our Pastor came in 1993. Biltmore continues to grow under these five objectives: Praying, Reaching, Equipping, Giving and Celebration Worship. We try to be creative in keeping these objectives out in front of our people at all times. And nothing happens at Biltmore unless it comes under one of these objectives. We cannot do everything but we can do what God calls us to with excellence.===>Click here to view the Prayer Guide

Prayer Leader ~ What milestones have been achieved since then? And, what sacrifice was called for to take these steps forward?

We now see a climate of prayer throughout the church leadership and body praying in one accord for God's agenda for BBC. More has been gained than ever sacrificed but an effective Prayer Ministry has many challenges that we must always be aware of. I believe Elaine Helms (Denominational Prayer Leader for the Southern Baptist Convention) said in one of her conferences, “It is easier to get people to sign up than to show up!” How true. A Prayer Coordinator has to lead with tenacity! It has to be a passion.

For me personally, even though I was not aware of it for years, prayer has been a constancy since my teenage years. We will all admit that prayer works, but how persistent and consistent are we to pray? Our culture is diametrically opposed to a consistent prayer life. By that I mean we are living in a culture of “instant results.” We take a pill to lose weight “instantly” without the discipline of proper eating habits and exercise. We want and crave the “easy” way. An effective Prayer Ministry requires hard work and perseverance. It’s not about me or us! It’s about what God wants to do and us agreeing to His timetable. If you become tired, pray! If you become discouraged, pray! If no one is responding, pray! If no one is listening, pray! Because God is always listening and teaching us as we totally depend on Him for the results.

Prayer Leader ~ How important is the statement of purpose to the direction of the prayer ministry?

"Every member praying, seeking His power, protection and provision, pursuing personal holiness, and following His leadership for Biltmore Baptist Church." Very important. Prayer is not a spiritual gift but a privilege every child has with his Father.

Prayer Leader ~ God's 600 is now God's 1300 ... Please describe this ministry and how it is strategic to the overall ministry of the church.

The God's 1300 Prayer Ministry is a proactive ministry designed to cover the church body, ministries, missionaries and staff in prayer on a regular and consistent basis. People are encouraged to pray in small groups, over the telephone with a prayer partner, as a Point Person praying at home, and in Power Point during the worship services on Sunday morning. A prayer guide is provided to encourage focused prayer in one accord. Everyone praying together for the same purpose cultivates unity and harmony in the body of Christ.

Prayer Leader ~ How vital is prayer among the church's small groups?

The small group encourages accountability among the members, and is also a teaching tool. We learn to pray by praying together. Often prayer leaders come out of prayer groups. However I spend time with every person who wants to start a prayer group. We have a Job Description as we ask our prayer leaders to keep their group on task and focused. It is the prayer leaders’ responsibility to assure the group prays on a regular and consistent basis.

Most of the time I can tell the depth of prayer going on by the actions and attitude of the prayer leader. We are always looking at creative ways to stay in touch with our prayer leaders and encourage them. We have quarterly prayer gatherings and use these as opportunities to encourage and strengthen the leaders. As often as possible our Pastor speaks to them and challenges them.

Prayer Leader ~ Please comment...

>Every church prays but not every church is a praying church...
Our goal is to have every ministry of the church saturated in prayer. As the entire leadership is involved in the Prayer Ministry, prayer saturates the church. The pastor of evangelism is praying for the pastor of worship; the pastor of youth is praying for the pastor of singles, and on and on it goes. Everyone praying for God's agenda for the church.

>A praying church needs a praying pastor ...
The Pastor is God's anointed for leadership of his flock. A praying pastor not only preaches and teaches about prayer but models it before his congregation. The church body recognizes the importance of prayer because it is lived out in the Pastor's life and ministry – it is a priority in his life. Through the years there has been much study and teaching on prayer but not much praying. Effective prayer is praying!
Traditionally we had sporadic prayer meetings if we were going to have a revival or if there was a crisis. Most of the time prayer was included in a service format in the same manner as an announcement or song. And much of the prayer that did take place was through the women’s organizations. When a Pastor and/or pastors give leadership, I believe men will follow. It’s exciting to see as many men praying as women!

>Prayer Coordinator's ought to promote prayer for the pastor ...
One of the main strategies of the enemy is to take the pastor down or out! If he can't take him down, he will discourage him at every opportunity. Spiritual warfare is prevalent and the enemy knows where to aim. I believe it is the Prayer Coordinator's responsibility to assure the Pastor and staff are covered and protected with prayer.

>Prayer during the worship service ...
Prayer during the worship service is acknowledging God's presence and power and seeking His protection and provision. Praying for changed hearts and lives and praying for God's anointing power on the Pastor, worship leaders, choir and congregation.

Prayer Leader ~ Share insights about planning on how to:

>Seek Christ's agenda for the ministry of prayer ...
There are many models of prayer used in prayer ministries. As the Pastor gives leadership to prayer prompts for the church, people may be encouraged to pray corporately or in small groups for God's agenda and leadership. Learning together to pray through the eyes of Jesus and His Kingdom purposes is a discipline. Much of our prayer lives have been spent in praying for the needs of people. In John 17 Jesus prayed for his followers and all who would come after them – this is what we call the church, the body of Christ. If Jesus prayed for the church, can we do less? Our mission is to be salt and light to a dying world and one of the best ways to be that is to pray.
Our leadership seeks God's agenda for their ministry with prayer at staff meetings, prayer at retreats, and prayer for the staff and leadership through our God’s 1300 Prayer Ministry. With prayer groups praying all during the week, people are praying for our Pastor and leadership every day. Sometimes we have used a 24 hour prayer time and invite prayer groups to come for one hour and pray through a need or situation.

>Set goals for the year ...
Goals are important. However, recruitment for the prayer ministry is one by one. Inviting, recruiting people to join you in prayer; growing prayer groups; providing prayer opportunities and events. Always keeping prayer as a main focus.

>Integrate prayer among the other ministries of the church ...
As mentioned before, when the leadership of the church is involved in the Prayer Ministry all ministries are covered in prayer. And prayer is given a priority in the ministry. Every ministry is based and founded on prayer.

>Serve the pastor and his vision ...
God gives the Pastor the vision and then holds him accountable. Our responsibility as the body is to encourage and support the Pastor through prayer. How awesome it is to see God work and do great things with ordinary people.

Prayer Leader ~ One last question ... What encouragement can you give to an equally passionate prayer coordinator who is serving in a small, under-resourced, maybe even under-interested, congregation?

Prayer begins with one person. Begin praying first of all for your Pastor and his family. Pray for unity and harmony in the church body. Recruit 2-3 people to pray with you on a regular basis. Then determine the goals and objectives of the church and begin praying in that direction. Seek God's will on ministry areas and the people He wants you to reach. Focus on Kingdom prayer – the salvation of lost family members, etc. One question that is helpful is: if Jesus were standing in this place, what would He be praying for?

Prayer Leader ~ Carolyn, please write a prayer for your prayer leader colleagues...
Father, we give You praise for Your majesty and Your grace. You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Forgive us for the times we have been disobedient and have disappointed you; thank You for Your forgiveness. By Your amazing power we ask that You strengthen the hearts and minds of your children as we seek to serve You. Encourage our hearts Father that we may experience You in all Your fullness and serve You better. May we acknowledge You in everything we do – all to Your glory alone. Help us to rest in the sufficiency of Your strength, understanding that through You everything can be accomplished. Help us not to become weary or discouraged in well doing, and the busyness of our responsibilities, but to always depend and rely on Your faithfulness. We pray that in 2007 we may all pursue personal holiness and have a hunger and thirst for righteousness as we seek Your face. And now we thank You Father for what You are going to accomplish in the days ahead. Help all who come behind us to find us faithful and may You be glorified in our lives. All to the glory of Jesus we pray, Amen.

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