This week I tweeted, “Meeting with my personal prayer team. I’m confident I’ve underestimated their influence in my ministry. Every pastor should have one.”
I received numerous replies asking me questions about the specifics of who this group is, what they do, how often we meet, etc. I thought it as worthy of a post.
Years ago when I was a layperson, a group of my prayer partners formed our own pastoral prayer team. We would pray during the church services and make appointments with church staff members to pray for them. It was a great marker in my spiritual growth and it seemed to be valued by the ministers.
When I became a pastor myself, knowing the importance of prayer, I decided to be intentional in soliciting people to pray for the church and my ministry. I have done this various ways. I’ve emailed individuals and groups with specific prayer requests. I’ve had Sunday morning meetings before church and recruited a few people to pray during each service. I’ve had a few men that I met with in accountability/prayer groups.
In the past couple of years, I started something new. It’s become my preferred model, simply because it’s intentional, it’s highly functional with my schedule, and I’ve seen the results of prayer working in my ministry.
Here is my current prayer team approach:
I personally recruited seven people in the church who meet with me regularly. (I wasn’t attempting to get to a biblical number. It’s just the way it worked. My goal would be for this group to never be larger than 10 or so, simply so we can function well as a group when we meet. Much larger and we would lose the intimacy of the group we have now.)
We meet every six weeks to two months, as my schedule allows. My assistant sets these meetings up for me at my request.
My part of the meetings last less than 1 hour.
I come to the meetings with a list of things to pray for, and hand it out to them as a prayer list.
- Some to do with church
- Some with staff (I don’t share names or specifics, but generalities)
- Some personal (I don’t share highly intimate things. I have men in my life to share those things, but I do share requests personal to me and my family, that may or may not have anything to do with the church.)
- In regards to the church, some items are general and some specific, but I rarely, if ever, use names associated with the requests. This is not as much about individual prayer needs within the church. We have a separate prayer team for those needs. This group is my personal prayer support group, so items within the church are more centered towards things I personally lead, opportunities or initiatives I feel God is guiding us towards, or personal issues of concern I have within the church, my family or with me.
I talk through each item on the list and allow them to ask me questions about them.
I pray for them.
I leave and let them pray together as long as they want.
They take the list home and continue to pray until we have another meeting.
We begin each new meeting reviewing any carryover items on the list to update the group on prayer results.
Who is on this prayer team?
- People I have personally recruited. (In the church I’m moving to pastor, I’m in the process now of gathering those names. Since I don’t know the people, I’m relying on several other people I do know to help me with a group of names.)
- People I can trust to hold a confidence (This is of utmost importance to me and I’ve never had a “leak” from this process yet.)
- People I believe are fervent in prayer, and they would be doing so whether I asked them to or not
- People who are humble, not looking for any spotlight or attention
- People I would go to personally to request prayer aside from this group (You probably could name those people in your church now)
These people are often not on any other team or committee in the church. They aren’t necessarily eloquent of speech. They are simply people of prayer. This is not a committee or team where members rotate on or off after a term of service. These are prayer warriors. As long as they are willing to serve, and are functioning within the request of confidentiality, they remain in the group.
What’s the benefit?
Do you have to ask?
Seriously, just this week, I gave them a very personal prayer request of something I was asking God to do. Within 30 minutes of our meeting, I had an answer to the prayer request. I emailed them to let them know.
Months before God began stirring my heart towards a change in ministry assignment, I had asked this group to pray for our staff. I knew several were receiving requests to consider other positions. I asked them to pray for our staff to be wise and discerning of God’s direction in our lives. I didn’t know at the time that I would be the one God would deal with next. It was out of my realm of possibilities to take another church at this time, but this group was already praying for the possibility. I’m convinced their prayers have aided in making this transition process so incredibly smooth.
God still answers the prayers of His people.
You don’t have to do it my way, but if you’re a pastor, you need people you can trust praying for you in every area of your life. Yes, you need your entire church praying for you. I’m for more corporate prayer. I believe, however, that you need a smaller group around you to share more personal requests. When we look at the model of Jesus, He seemed to have that prayer support structure within the disciples, even calling a few of them frequently away from the 12 to meet with him in more private settings.
How do you ask people to pray for you?