Anyone who has been involved in leading prayer knows the challenges of encouraging people to come out and join in the labour of prayer. Yet, we also know that some of the strongest relationships are built as we pour out our hearts in prayer and receive back from God, his responses.
As you begin to consistently pray for your community and local government, God will begin to give direction to your prayers. Our goal has to be to hear from him. Some of these directions will apply to your own community while others may concern your region or even have a national application.
As you form a team, it is good to remind yourself that when it relates to prayer, there are no professionals. We are all learning and we approach this discipline humbly with God and with one-another. Some will be joining your team with experience and some may be eager novices who are looking for mentorship.
Quality, Not Quantity
Firstly, I want to encourage you to not focus on the numbers of people who are consistent in prayer, but celebrate those that you do have who are willing. I don’t think that God is too interested in a conversation with someone who is only grudgingly joining in and also, no one likes to be guilted into prayer.
In the story of Acts 12, when James had been beheaded and Peter was in prison. Luke emphasizes that the church had gathered in earnest prayer in verse:5 which can also be described as fervent. This same word for prayer was used for the depth of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane when he came back and prayed more fervently, or intense. Luke 22:44. This deeper level of prayer consumed those praying for Peter and the outcome was miraculous as an angel came and lead Peter out of prison! It certainly wasn’t Peter’s great faith, but Luke brings it all back to the church praying in verse 12. (He remembered that many had gathered to pray).
Don’t measure a successful prayer meeting only by numbers and attendance. Rather build / mentor your team into cultivating a deeper and more strategic prayer focus which can be measured by the outcome or fruit of you prayers.
Praying the Word
Encourage your team to refrain from prepared prayer, but rather, choose prayers that are from the heart and for the moment. Seek to pray as a team, not just an individual by building on what one-another prays. An excellent way to achieve this is to have a Bible text that your whole group prays. The Bible can become your main tool of prayer with the benefit of teaching us to listen to what God is saying, not just what you are praying. We always remind people that prayer is supposed to be a dialogue with God, not a monologue with ourselves doing all the talking!
Seek out scriptures that lend support to the issue you’re interceding for. For example, if there is known corruption in your local municipal government you could begin to pray Psalm 89:14 – Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
By praying the Word, you are actively seeking to align yourself with the will of God, which guards your meeting against selfish prayers, or prayers of opinion and judgment. You goal is to be Word based and Spirit led.
An excellent resource to help pray the Word, is the material from the ASK Prayer Network. http://asknetwork.net/
Needed: Seasoned Facilitators
Seasoned facilitators are needed who are able to help lead the direction of prayer and also able to coach people to be engaged in what is being prayed. We encourage each team to have two facilitators to ensure that there is always a leader present.
Some things that every group needs to be reminded of:
- Give everyone equal opportunity to pray
- Not to compete in prayer
- Stay away from preaching or sharing information in prayer
- Keep the prayers vertical; not opinions and judgments
- No prayer hogs!
- This is not a time for personal prayer ministry. Stay on track.
- Listen to how the Lord directs you
- Have someone briefly journal the direction of prayer.
We also encourage facilitators to build relationships with your team. Consider some social times and have some fun, which is key to building a sincere level of trust with one-another.
Where To Meet
Reading your local newspaper and attending strategic council meetings is important to becoming more adequately informed in how to prayer for local government. Establishing a prayer group which meets in the local City Hall is an excellent atmosphere to help keep your focus on municipal issues. We know of one group that had such favour in their community, they were allowed to begin a House of Prayer at their City Hall!
Ask for permission to meet when the Council Chamber is unoccupied. If this permission is granted, make sure that your prayers are quiet and respectful. The challenge to municipal governments is that if they could be challenged to open the doors to many other groups. Be sensitive here. Don’t let this turn into a battle of wills. If permission is not granted, then pray from somewhere else but let the Mayor and the councillors know that you are praying for each of them and their decisions. (Maybe the next mayor will give you permission). You may choose to pray outside the City Hall building, or from your own home or church. The key is that you are praying for issues important to your community.
Some groups choose to be more mobile and may choose to pray one week at the City Hall, another week at the local hospital, or some of the community schools. All of this is good! Allow the Lord to direct you.
Answers to Prayer
I am fully convinced that when we sincerely gather to pray, the spiritual environment becomes affected. PRAYER CHANGES THINGS!
When God answers, be sure to document them in your journal and build on what God is showing you. This momentum strongly encourages and provokes faith within your team. Indeed, John 15:7,8 show us that your direct answers to prayer become one of your greatest testimonies of fruitfulness to God’s glory.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Testimonies of God’s answers to prayer become a huge encouragement to the Body of Christ. Other Christians may become convicted and provoked regarding their own prayer lives; some being drawn to joining you in prayer. As you continue to prove faithful in prayer, your pastor may want you to share these instances to the Lord’s glory.
Keeping Your Church Informed
As your team becomes more informed and strategic in prayer, ask if these prayer-directions can be communicated once per month within the local churches. Keep these reports as positive as possible. One excellent way is to make a brief bulletin insert or a power point that can be highlighted periodically. This would encourage most leaders, as it helps to bring good insight and a focus for local churches to be involved in their community.