Caring for intercessors and caring for those who pray for others is vital so they can continue being effective and enthusiastic about their calling. Here are some ideas on how to care for intercessors and members of prayer groups.
How to Do This Prayer Practice
I have been Prayer Leader at my church for 4 years. I have been a member of our Prayer Ministry for about 9 years and through my experience I have discovered that intercessors need special care. Through the many years of experience the Holy Spirit has taught me these lessons. All of what you are about to read and discover are processes currently used in my leadership as a Prayer Leader caring for intercessors.
Those who have committed themselves to the calling of intercessory prayer in obedience to God’s calling on their lives need to be cared for in a special way. Those serving as Prayer Leaders have a great responsibility to nourish the ministry members in a way that they are refreshed and renewed and strengthened for the work of the kingdom. If you are reading this and you serve as a Prayer Leader or serve in the calling of Intercessory Prayer then you know what I mean.
Intercessory Prayer is a high priestly calling. The word of God declares that we are a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:4), a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), and a kingdom of priest (Revelation 1:9). The enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) those who have committed to a life of prayer and Satan wants nothing more than to make us ineffective and defeated.
2. Have regular meetings.
Have regular times where you and your Prayer Team meet for prayer. It is crucial that women and men of prayer meet in community regularly. Meet at least once a week for the purpose of prayer. Meeting once a week is never too much and sometime is not enough to keep the ministry thriving, alive and vibrant.
Meeting together regularly also brings awareness to your congregation about your ministry and that you are serious about the Ministry of Prayer for the body of Christ. Make sure that the time the ministry spends praying is posted on the weekly calendar of your church events. People who want to join the ministry will come out on those days to inquire about the ministry and many times they join at that time.
3. Allow time for personal sharing but set limits.
Allow time in the beginning of the meeting, perhaps 10 minutes, for ministry members to share what’s on their hearts. Intercessors go through a lot during the week and if the time is not given for them to share then they will become weak in trying to uphold the calling to pray on behalf of others while battling their own challenges, often times feeling alone.
Limit the time of sharing. When the ministry comes together for prayer the focus should always be on prayer. The enemy can and will use these times of sharing to distract your focus and conversations can sometime get out of control. Before you know it the time you designated for prayer will become a time of loose chatter. Remember the enemy does not want you to pray!
4. Pray for unity
Prayer Ministries must be united and the environment must be one of love, trust and confidentiality. In order for our prayers to be effective and unhindered we must keep the unity of peace and fellowship. Strife in a prayer ministry will hinder the work of advancing the kingdom and the enemy will do all that he can to divide the ministry.
5. Create a safe environment
Creating a safe environment is crucial. Through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the ministry, a safe environment is created. When there is a safe environment, ministry members will be open to sharing the needs in their own life and will ask for prayer about situations affecting their lives that are of extreme confidence and urgency.
Sometimes members will come to the Prayer Leader and confess sins or struggles. This is good and healthy for the effectiveness of the ministry. James 5:16 says “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
The Holy Spirit will often initiate these times of sharing and confession and Prayer Leaders must always be open and sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. When intercessors are able to lift burdens with people they trust and know will pray and support them, the whole ministry is more effective in prayer.
6. Emphasize confidentiality
With that being said, always reiterate to your ministry members the necessity of confidentiality within the ministry. No one wants to be a part of a team or ministry where people gossip and are not faithful in upholding the trust of others. God entrust us to each other’s care so remember, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and (1 Corinthians 10:12) “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
7. Pay attention to changes in attendance and participation as signs that personal care is needed.
Pay close attention to ministry members who regularly miss prayer meetings. Call them and see how they are doing. Let them know you miss their presence and encourage them to come out to the next meeting. Usually when intercessors miss a few meetings, they are going through something and trying to battle it alone. When they see that people care and they are missed they come back and regain focus. They will also open up and tell you what they have been going through when special care is taken to make the call to see how they are doing.
8. Plan times of replenishment.
Prayer takes a lot of strength out of the intercessor, therefore intercessors need replenishing regularly. In addition to your regular weekly prayer gatherings, hold quarterly meetings where the focus is to replenish the ministry members. This meeting should be planned for the Prayer Leader or one of the ministry members to share a teaching and impartation to the ministry members.
Every Prayer Warrior whether seasoned or new to the calling has experience and has a word of hope and encouragement to pour into the ministry. Our own experiences with prayer are some of the most powerful teachings. As a Prayer Leader, you don’t need to take this task on alone. There are times when you need to sit under the word and receive and be refreshed.
9. Secure the leadership and support of your pastor.
If you’re a Prayer Leader in your local church, it is crucial for your Pastor be a part of the ministry. Your Pastor should be spending time with the ministry regularly and use those times to impart the word of God and encourage the ministry. The Prayer Leader has the responsibility to do the best they can to nourish the ministry and keep it thriving but the main source of spiritual nourishment should come from your Pastor.
Prayer Ministries are often the most isolated ministries in the church because they are not publically affirmed and recognized by Pastor’s for their role in the church. When Prayer Leaders are publically affirmed in the church it sends a signal that prayer is a core value in the church. As your Pastor affirms the Ministry of Prayer, It brings focus and intentionality to the prayer ministry, it is a way to recruit members into the ministry, and encourages greater prayer participation from the congregation.
My Personal Tips and Ideas
Don’t give up! Regardless of what it looks like in the natural and what the enemy tries to get you to believe, keep on praying, keep on showing up for prayer meetings, keep on being faithful. Everything has a season and God has not forgotten what He has called you to do. Our ministry went from 2-3 members in the early years leading up to 12 committed members today. That’s progress! Don’t ever give up on what God can do through your faithfulness. Over all those years of praying God added to our numbers.
My experience as a Prayer Leader has been hard, often times feeling lonely and alone like giving up. My thoughts have often been “who cares about prayer”? One of the hardest things to do is to get a church to pray and understand the necessity of prayer in the body of Christ.
Our Prayer Ministry meets every Wednesday from 6:00 to 7:00 pm and has been now for the past 9-10 years. Our average attendance is about 6-7 because everyone on the ministry is not able to make it on Wednesday’s but it doesn’t matter how many show up, we still hold prayer.
Other ideas to keep your ministry connected and praying without ceasing is to start a Prayer Line. We have a prayer line that is committed to prayer M-F from 6:00 to 6:30 am.
Outside of regular prayer gatherings and meetings I recommend holding a special event for your ministry members. In the past we have held end of year retreats of socials to look at accomplishments and to give thanks for the faithful service of our intercessors.
As intercessors we often get off balance, tired and weighed down. One way to bring our focus back is to remember the call of an intercessor and to realign ourselves.
Replenishment sessions can be on any topic the Holy Spirit gives you. Mine are mainly focused on prayer. Prayer is a spiritual discipline so in one replenishment session the topic was on the spiritual disciplines of an intercessor, focusing on prayer, silence and solitude, the importance of study, fasting, mediation, submission and service.
Copyright Sondra Green 2012 All rights reserved