Intercessors are the workers of the prayer ministry. We can have great leaders and organizers, great groups, and wonderful prayer conferences, but without intercessors there would be no prayer ministry. Intercession is what makes the prayer ministry happen.
There are always some faithful souls who are eager to pray that will volunteer to sign up as intercessors. Most of us, however, are just too independent and too occupied with our own affairs. Therefore, we need to be reminded to pray, and recruited to intercede for others.
You who are leaders in the prayer ministry are the recruiters. You need to stand in the gap for the prayer ministry that God has called you to (Ezek. 22:30). Here are some ideas on who you should recruit as intercessors.
Recruit those who are attracted to your ministry. Your ministry will be of a certain type; likewise, your personality and your way of doing things will be unique. If someone comes along and likes what they see, and senses that they are being called by God to join you, that is the person you want on your team.
Recruit your friends. Recruit those who are on all different levels of friendship to intercede for you and your ministry. They will be as circles around you. You may have two or three close friends to pray for you; they will be as tight circles around you. You will usually have ten to twenty casual friends; they should be as a larger prayer circle around you. Then there will always be a greater number, sometimes hundreds, who are your acquaintances; they should also pray for you, guarding your parameter.
Therefore, we should think of our friends as those who pray for us. And if they are truly our friends then they will prayer for us. But we should also recruit friends for our friends. This is part of the hard work of the prayer ministry.
Recruit those who seem to be more gifted as intercessors. I don’t know if I believe that God has given a spiritual gift of intercession to some people more than others. But we do know that there are some Christians who enjoy prayer more than others, and pray more.
Peter Wagner is one who believes that God has gifted some with a spiritual gift of intercession. He has said in his book, Prayer Shield that 5% of the average congregation has the gift of intercession. He states that those who have this gift “pray longer,” “pray with more intensity,” “enjoy prayer more and receive more personal satisfaction from their prayer times,” and, “are acutely aware of hearing quite clearly from God.”9
As I said, I am not ready to say that these people have a special spiritual gift; but I do accept what Peter Wagner has observed. Anyway, these are the type of Christians that you need on your prayer team. These are the people that we need to seek out and recruit—for ourselves and for others. Many of these great prayer warriors I have a feeling are not signed up to pray for as many people as they would like to pray for. I think many of them would be tickled if someone asked them to be an intercessor for them—because, after all, that is what they feel they are called to do!
Okay, now that you have an idea who to recruit, the question now is how to recruit? Basically, I would say, you will look for those who show an interest in prayer. Recruiting is just keeping your eyes open to see and find those whom God has prepared and given a heart for prayer. But since each type of ministry is different we must apply different methods of recruiting for each of them.
If you are part of a state, national or worldwide prayer ministry you may want to start by seeing who has subscribed to your prayer magazine, or who has purchased any of your prayer materials. Those will be some of the ones who are more interested in prayer. From that interested list you can send a letter asking them to sign up as an intercessor.
If you are part of a small group ministry or a church ministry you may want to call those whom you think are interested in prayer or approach them in person.
In whatever way you approach your interested people, make sure you communicate to them exactly what they will be required to do. For instance, tell them how often you will be sending them prayer requests, and tell them how much you expect them to pray. I think the more you make things clear to them the more they will be motivated to intercede.
Why all people need intercessors, and why some need them more than others
All of us who are human need someone to intercede for us because we all have needs and problems and we are all subject to temptation. If each of us had friends around us, interceding for us, we would all be better off—we would all have a better chance at overcoming temptation, and being protected.
Pastors and evangelists, I think need prayer more than others; therefore they need more intercessors interceding for them. Here are…
Three Reasons Why Pastors and Evangelists Need More Prayer
1. They receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1). Since God holds teachers and leaders more accountable, they need more prayer protection and prayer power.
2. Satan will be after them more. Pastors and evangelists preach and teach the Word more and proclaim the gospel more than others. Therefore, Satan hates them more and will temp them more than others.
3. Pastors and evangelists have more influence on others. They need prayer more than others because they have more responsibilities and they influence more people. If Satan overtakes a pastor, for example, the whole congregation is affected. Therefore, when we pray for a pastor we are in effect praying for the whole church.
I don’t think there has ever been a great preacher or evangelist that did not have faithful prayer warriors interceding for them. Peter Wagner in his Prayer Shield tells of two great evangelists, Charles Finney and Billy Graham, who each had their faithful intercessors praying for them. Finney had one known as “Father Nash” who frequently traveled with him; and Billy Graham had Pearl Goode, which Graham himself has attributed much of his evangelism power to.10
It is a shame that more pastors don’t try to recruit more intercessors for themselves. As we have seen, they certainly have a need to. Nonetheless, we should make it our aim and duty to intercede for them, and to recruit others to do the same.
Encouraging intercessors. Intercession is hard work. And sometimes, especially if answers don’t come quickly, the work is discouraging. If you are a leader in a prayer ministry you need to take time to encourage your intercessors. I suggest that you communicate regularly to let your prayer partners know that you appreciate their service to you.
9 Peter Wagner, Prayer Shield, p. 49.
10 Ibid. p. 103