By Peter Meier | May 1, 2018
In my previous Mission Moments post, I shared steps for Planning a Prayer Retreat. This is an essential practice for any church planter or for anyone who wants to begin a new ministry venture. The place to start something new is on our knees!
In this post, I want to share some ideas for developing your personal prayer team. This builds on our Prayer Principle, namely, Prayer turns our focus to God as the wisdom and power of each step of church multiplication. This step is one that you don’t want to skip over or take lightly. Here’s why - When you start planning a new ministry or considering launching a new faith community, you are entering the battlefield. Multiplying faith communities is all about claiming our neighborhoods and communities for God’s kingdom, and sharing the story of Jesus so that people will follow Him as His disciples.
Satan wants nothing more than to discourage and dissuade you from reclaiming this territory. He will stop at nothing to throw you off balance and prevent you from making and multiplying new disciples.
Remember his attempts to stop Jesus from His work of disciple-making and kingdom-advance? From Jesus’ birth and escape from Herod’s murderous plans, to the temptations Jesus faced after His baptism, to attempts at murder, false witness, rejection by the religious establishment and even death, Satan never quit – until Jesus’ overwhelming victory on Easter morning.
But don’t think that’s the end.
The Enemy still prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour – and he’s got you in his sights.
Jesus gave his disciples this word of advice, Watch and pray that you don’t enter into temptation. Watch and Pray. That’s a good word for you and me too, because Satan is the Liar and Murderer who never lets up. (And if you think he has – watch out, because he’s just looking for another time, a more opportune time, Lk 4:13, to trip you up and take you down.)
For this reason, it’s wise to gather some fellow disciples who will join you in watching and praying. These are fellow disciples who want to support and help you by praying for and with you. Here are some helpful ideas for forming your Personal Intercessory Team. These are Pray-ers who commit to covering you in prayer and regularly interceding to Our Father on your behalf.
Perhaps you already know who needs to be on your Intercessory Team. Or, maybe you don’t. In either case, start the process with prayer. Ask the Lord to give you FAT intercessors (Faithful, Available, Teachable). And pray with your eyes open! Look for intercessors in prayer groups, among new disciples, by inviting potential intercessors to join you in prayer, by asking known intercessors to identify others, by teaching on prayer and seeing who shows interest.
Look for people who take the initiative to ask you how they can pray for you, who are already praying for others, or who respond to your vision casting by offering to pray. Who do you know who loves to pray, who sees prayer as a ministry, and who follows through when they say they will pray?
Look for intercessors who live lives of integrity, and who have courage and the gift of faith. Identify people who have experienced brokenness in their own lives, and who embrace kingdom values, desiring to see the making and multiplying of disciples through your ministry.
How many intercessors should you have? A smaller circle of committed prayer partners is better than a larger mailing list of occasional intercessors. Recruit people that you know will follow through. Personal recruitment is the best way to find these intercessors. Recruit disciples who share same vision and heart for mission, and who commit to pray for you, your family, and your new faith community. Some of these may be members of your on-site team, while others may be distant but eager to partner in prayer.
Here are some questions to stimulate action for you and your Intercessor Team:
1. What are some specific prayer needs related to your new church project?
2. What are some specific personal prayer requests you have as you undertake this assignment?
3. Schedule a regular time when you can pray with another person over these needs. Listen to God during this time. Journal your thoughts. What direction, vision, or confirmation does He provide?
4. Who are your potential prayer team members? List only those who make the commitment to pray daily for you and for the new church.
5. How will you communicate with your prayer team members? How often? Communication is key to keeping your Intercessors involved and motivated. They need to hear how their prayers are make a difference. Communicate at least once a month. Share answers to prayer; flag special needs. For example, our Center Intercessory Team meets on line in a video chat once a month for our prayer time. In between, each prays from a daily list of prayer items which we share on a private Facebook group and via email.
Finally, assure your Intercessors that this is a reciprocal relationship. Pray for your intercessors at least weekly, asking God to protect and bless them, and assuring them that they can share requests with you too. Follow the examples of Paul's prayers in Colossians, Philippians, Ephesians, etc.
Remember, Jesus is the one who builds His Church. Any project is doomed to failure unless God is directing and guiding each step. A foundational part of every church multiplication effort must be a solid commitment to prayer. Prayer is not merely preparation for the battle. . .it is the battle!
Who’s got you covered?
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
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