There is ample proof, through the life of Jesus, that prayer is God’s idea. For Jesus, who is really God come to us in the flesh, commanded us to pray, taught us to pray, and demonstrated prayer to us.
He commanded us to pray. Jesus would not have commanded us to pray unless prayer was His idea and His Father’s idea. All that He commands the believer is part of His plan. So when He commands us to “watch and pray,” when he says “ask, seek, and knock,” and when He says “men ought to pray and not to faint,” that indicates to me that prayer is His idea and that He is trying to relay that idea to us. He wants us to know that it will work if we will do it as He says.
He taught us to pray. Jesus would not have taken such great pains…
There is no need for any Christian to worry about whether his witness will be effective. Pray these three things and trust the Lord to do His work.
For the Holy Spirit to continue His work long after your witness. If the Holy Spirit has led you with boldness to witness to someone, you can believe that He has also been ministering to that person—that is, all along the way He has been preparing that person’s heart to hear the gospel. Bit by bit He has been liberating that one’s mind and heart from the power of Satan; He has been helping them to see their own lostness, to see that time is short, and to see God’s love.
Let me urge you to keep praying for that lost one. Pray that throughout your witness and even after you witness, that the Holy Spirit would continue His ministry…
God is at work in heaven and on earth. He works in heaven through Christ who sits at His Father’s right hand, and He works on earth through the Holy Spirit in us.
God’s work in heaven. The work of Christ in heaven is His intercession, of which, according to L. Berkhof, the following elements are found: (1) the offering of Himself as the perfect sacrifice having been completed; (2) the appearing of Himself now before God as a representative of his people (Hebrews 9:24); (3) the perpetual presence of the completed sacrifice of Christ before God—being a constant reminder of His perfect atonement; (4) Christ’s appearing before God now as our Justifier—and He is constantly reminding God that we are justified in Him; (5) Christ’s appearing before God now as the sanctifier of our prayers and our services; (6) Christ’s loving care for His people, helping them in their difficulties, trials and temptations (Hebrews 4:15); and finally (7) it is prayer for all believers: for all our spiritual needs, for protection against dangers and against the enemy who constantly threatens and accuses us, that our faith will not cease, and that we will be victorious in the end.4
The prayers and intercession of Christ is absolutely necessary, both for our help on this earth and for our completed salvation; for though His atoning work on earth has been completed, He now and forever must remind God of that former work and be our Representative and our Justifier. This of course is no problem for Christ, because He is God—He is perfect and lives forever. As Hebrews 7:24-25 states, He abides forever, holding His priesthood permanently. Hence, also, he is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
God’s work on earth. On the whole, God’s work is to get people to believe in Jesus so that they might live forever with Him; for as Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (Jn. 6:29).
Now if we were to briefly describe the work of God on earth, we would start with the work of His Son Jesus Christ. The work of Christ while on this earth was to die for our sins in order that He might bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18). That work has already been accomplished. And so, having completed His work on earth, He returned to His Father in heaven. And there, He is working as our advocate to complete our salvation through His intercession.
But God sent another advocate to help us here on the earth—the Holy Spirit, who abides with us forever (Jn. 14:16). He is the one who continues God’s work on this earth—that of helping people to believe in Jesus (John 16:8-9), guiding them into all truth (Jn. 16:13), and dispensing grace to them whenever they need it. For He being the Spirit of Christ is full of grace and truth (Jn.1:14).
Now, one of the ways in which the Holy Spirit helps us is by interceding for us as we pray—since we do not know how to pray as we should. He tells us what to pray for and how to pray for those things. He shows us the will of God and how to pray according to His will (Rom. 8:27). He also makes us believe how necessary it is for us to pray for certain things, and then urges us on in prevailing prayer.
Here are three elements of God’s work, in terms of prayer, that we should be involved in:
1.Prayer for workers. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38).
2. Prayer for Faith.When Jesus came into His own town, among His own people, the Bible says, “He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matt. 13:57-58). We must conclude by this that the reverse is also true—that where there is faith many works of God will be done.
In order for the works of God to be done in your town you must pray for faith. In fact I suggest that you saturate your town with believing prayer. Then, as God begins to work, you will see the power of God become unleashed causing many to believe.
3. Prayer for deliverance and victory.Satan will do everything he can to discourage us. Prayer is necessary for our deliverance and victory. When Peter was arrested and put in prison, while he was held there to be mistreated and killed, the church of God was fervently praying for his deliverance. And on that very night when prayers were made, an angel miraculously delivered him (Acts 12:6-17).
4 L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand rapids, Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), pp. 400-404.
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.
These are large and far-reaching ministries, but I think they are just as important as the others. God wants us to prayer for all people, far as well as near. This is how these prayer ministries may be designed.
They may operate through the following avenues:
Magazines and newspapers. There are a few good Christian magazines and newspapers out there that focus on prayer. I get Herald of His Coming, which is jam packed with articles on prayer and it also provides the reader with about eight or ten News Briefs with prayer requests from various countries. I think newspapers and magazines like this one is an excellent way to recruit prayer ministry members, provide the reader with world-wide prayer requests, and to keep him or her motivated to pray.
A prayer letter. A letter may be mailed to all magazines and newspapers subscribers. Its purpose will be to invite…
These ministries are very important.The goal for each of them is to get Christian people praying together for their city or community, so that, according to 1Timothy 2:2, they may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Here are a few ideas of what I think this ministry should look like:
1. There should be a clear focus of ministry.That focus must be on interceding for the needs of the city or community. Those needs will be at least three-fold:
(1) For its leaders. Prayer must be made for all the city or community leaders, that they be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth; but also, that God would work through them, so that whether they are believers or not, they would rule and make decisions with God’s wisdom.
(2) For churches. Prayer should be made for all Christian churches…
A small group prayer ministry may not appear to be that productive, but with the right leadership it may be very effective. Here are a few ideas on how to design this ministry.
1. I think a small group ministry will operate best with two or three leaders.These are the people that have the vision for this ministry. Though everyone in the group will have responsibilities, the leaders will do most of the planning and organizing. They should meet regularly, at least monthly to evaluate the groups progress, to plan events and strategies, and to pray together.
2. As to its location, I suggest that the group always meet in the same place so its members always know where to go. Since this will be a serious prayer group it must be a place without distractions.
3. Though many from the group will probably attend the same church…
Since people everywhere need prayer, we need prayer ministries everywhere. The design of your prayer ministry will be determined by two things: (1) by what the needs are, according to the location and type of ministry, and also (2) by whom your leaders are, according to their gifts and how God is calling and directing them. In this blog post we will address the prayer ministry of the local church.
There is no right or wrong way to design any prayer ministry. There are so many things that can be done. Here are some of my own ideas for a local church prayer ministry—from my own experience and from what I have read and observed.
1. I think the senior pastor should lead the prayer ministry, or at least be a co-leader with another elder.He is the main leader of the church so it fits best if he leads…
The function of a prayer ministry is its purpose; and its function will tell us what it does; it will give us the reasons why we should have it. In this post we will discuss five functions of a prayer ministry.
Five Functions of a Prayer Ministry
1. It provides for teaching on prayer.Every prayer ministry should do some-thing to teach its people what prayer is and how to pray. If your ministry is in a church, and you are the head pastor, you should see to it that sermons are preached on prayer and that prayer is taught in Sunday school classes and bible study groups. Wherever your ministry is located, I think it would be good if you had prayer retreats and prayer conferences, where speakers would teach on prayer and where workshops would be given to learn about prayer. Moreover, you should encourage your people to…
When we gave our lives to God and received His Son, the blood of Jesus Christ did a wonderful work in us; it cleaned us and gave us the right to be priests. As priests we now have the right, by the blood of Christ, to draw near Him and to do His work of intercession for others (The Hebrew root word for priest, qarab, actually means to draw near and is used of one who may draw near to the divine presence, Exodus 19:22, 30:20).
But all the work that is done in us and all the work we do as intercessors is done by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can do no good work without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ work together. As Andrew Murray has said, “As the blood gives the right [of intimate access to God], the…