Awaken your church to pray

by John Franklin

More and more churches are beginning their own prayer ministries. Some important things must take place before your church is ready to take on prayer as a full-fledged ministry. As a pastor, you are a key player in its development. This doesn't mean you do all the organizational and administrative functions, but that you have the responsibility to create in your congregation the desire to be a praying people.

Developing a heart for prayer in your people can be harder than organizing a program. For a prayer ministry to succeed, the hearts of the people must first be tilled to want a relationship with God in prayer.

Begin to stir the hearts of your people and lay the foundation for prayer ministry by using the following ideas taken from A House of Prayer: Prayer Ministries in Your Church:

1. Cultivate Your Personal Prayer Life

God works in response to prayer. If you pray for your people, God will honor your request and will stir their hearts to want to pray. Conversely, if you don't pray, there will be dryness in many members' lives.

Prayer is more caught than taught. When your members see a dynamic prayer life in you, they will want the same thing.

God will not honor hypocrisy. Why would He fulfill your request to do something in the lives of your people that you don't practice yourself?

2. Motivate Your Church to a Successful Prayer Ministry

The important thing is to prepare people's hearts first. This biblical pattern holds true. God first prepares the hearts of His people to receive what He is about to do. People will not pray just because you start a prayer ministry. In fact, if their hearts haven't been prepared to want one, they will ignore or oppose it.

How long it takes to motivate your church to pray depends on where members start. If they have no interest in praying, it may take a long time. If the church body is already motivated, then you are ready to move to your next step.

3. Utilize Various Opportunities to Awaken and Motivate

How can you increase interest in prayer? As a pastor you can do this in various ways:

  • Preaching
    The sermon is traditionally considered the centerpiece of Protestant worship services. You can expound the Scriptures so that church members can understand the importance of prayer and the role it plays in their lives. The Holy Spirit will then convince members of the need to pray
  • Teaching
    Pastors often have various opportunities to teach, such as Sunday night, Wednesday night and small-group studies. Furthermore, pastors can institute lessons on prayer to be taught in every Sunday School class for two weeks, a month or longer if desired.
  • Other opportunities
    Many avenues, such as drama, a prayer conference or special events such as the National Day of Prayer, can raise members' interest in prayer.

Ideas are limited only to your imagination, but the goal is clear. Use every opportunity to create desire and expectation and to raise awareness in your congregation.

Several signs should become apparent when God is stirring the people:

  • They begin to ask questions, pray more or display more interest and hunger to pray than they have in the past.
  • Their awareness of the seriousness of sin grows.
  • Their conversations refer more to prayer than previously.
  • God often begins to answer prayer in a more obvious manner to encourage their faith.
  • Someone may mention the church needs to start a prayer ministry or that the midweek prayer service needs to focus more on prayer.

When things like these happen, you know God has worked in hearts sufficiently to start the prayer ministry. If you try to launch a prayer ministry when God hasn't stirred the people, it will almost certainly fail.

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