Jesus said, “My house shall be called the house of prayer (Matthew 21:13). What is a House of Prayer ministry? This type of church is dedicated to the belief that nothing of lasting Kingdom value will happen apart from communion with God. Leaders are praying people, with a measurable thirst of more of God Himself, and set the example of spending time in their “secret place” every day. These leaders believe, and practice, the conviction that in order for the people to be empowered for service by the Holy Spirit, they must spend time developing deepening intimacy with their Abba Father.
This type of effort will require prayer and leadership by the leader (pastor) of the church to effectively plan, prepare and see the beginning and development of a prayer team. Often local church leaders assume that prayer ministry is functioning but no real-time prayer is being offered since no one has been designated and delegated to lead the prayer ministry. Of course the pastor should be the ultimate example in seeking, communing and listening to God in the effort to establish prayer ministries in the local church. John Franklin asserts, “The greatest workings of God come by corporate prayer; and we will not see the power of God in sufficient measure to transform the world around us until we pray together. As a leader you must make praying together a priority equal to preaching and teaching (emphasis Franklin).” I would strongly suggest that praying together must be a prerequisite to preaching and teaching. Of course, the preacher or teacher must give adequate time in private prayer but I wonder how much of our time in the regular services and other meetings are given to corporate prayer. If someone checked the time of singing, preaching, other activities and prayer, how much would be given to prayer? Developing prayer ministry in the local church to seek and listen to God will propel the church forward in God’s will and purposes.
A leader in prayer ministries of the local church should be appointed to work closely with the pastor. This leader in prayer ministries could also be designated as the prayer partner/support for the pastor, lifting the pastor in prayer during the week and during sermon times. Often the Holy Spirit will lay this burden for prayer on a specific person and the pastor will discern the need to use the person and help develop leadership in prayer ministries by mentoring and delegating this responsibility to the person. The apostle Paul recognized the ministry of prayer in a leader in the New Testament church. Epaphras is mentioned in three books (most likely the same person) of Paul’s writings and the foremost thing Paul recognized him for was his faithfulness in prayer. He was a faithful minister who labored fervently in prayer for the church to go forward in the perfect and complete will of God (Colossians 4:12). He may not have led a planned prayer ministry but he was recognized for faithfulness in prayer. A leader in prayer in the local church will move forward in helping to develop prayer ministry in the local church as they are given the support of the pastor.
The call to prayer is to every child of God but focused, planned prayer ministry may not be the call of everyone. There are several prayer ministries throughout the world open to everyone. These can be found by searching the internet (http://prayer-center.upperroom.org/). Developing prayer ministries in the local church is a prime need. It is my prayer that local churches will become actively involved in developing a prayer ministry. There are materials on developing a prayer ministry in the local church (http://www.barnabasnetwork.com/prayer_teams, http://www.drawnear.org/prayerministries/GrowingYourCongregationPrayerMinistries.pdf). Unless prayer is the focus and involvement of leadership in the local church the church will not fulfill our Lord’s design and purpose in being. Tim McCaleb asserts, “The primary role of the church is not for it to be a house of Bible study, evangelism, or healing, although these things may take place within a church that prays. The primary role of the church is that of prayer.”
As a pastor of a local church, it is my strong desire to see prayer ministry developed so that the perfect and complete will of God will be realized there. The times we are living in and the issues of our day necessitate a more planned and purposeful effort in developing prayer ministries. Could it be that our children and grandchildren will need this even more considering the persecution the Chinese and other nations suffer, yet, they have developed the underground prayer movement in their churches? Yes, Christ may return at any time and we must live as if he is coming today but prepare as though he may not return for decades or even a century or more. Prayer and fasting are desperately needed. May we seek the One who can keep us focused and involved in his perfect and complete will.
Andrew Murray’s book, With Christ in the School of Prayer, has encouraged me many times one quote from his book says, “Faith needs a life of prayer in which to grow and keep strong and prayer needs fasting for its full and perfect development.” As we pray and fast during this designated twenty-one days may the Lord help us to make this not just a short time to emphasize prayer and fasting but a time to see prayer ministry continue to develop in local churches to seek the perfect and complete will of God as we move forward.
Big Sandy, Tennesee