MENTORING LIVES OF PRAYER
by David Wells
“Lord teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).
Rarely is the function of modelling and mentoring a life of prayer found in a spiritual leader’s position description. A number of important items are usually stated, but it seems ironic that the consistent practice of Jesus to mentor His followers in spiritual disciplines is rarely stated as a clear expectation for leaders. Thankfully, many leaders take this responsibility seriously and work hard to equip their congregations or ministry participants in a life of prayer and spiritual formation.
Whether we are reading of the early church in Acts or of the first generation of Pentecostals in the 20th century, we are all well aware that a vital community of believers in prayer is essential for intimacy with God and for the empowerment to fulfil His purposes. Leaders of churches and ministries are being called by the Spirit to recapture this priority of creating “houses of prayer.”
In the book What I See, I highlighted qualities exhibited by ministries that mentor others in prayer. From interviews and audits of close to 50 PAOC churches and a followup summit with several leaders of the churches exhibiting broad-based, healthy prayer ministries, the following seven best practices were identified:
1. Churches with a healthy prayer ministry understand that prayer is not a “departmental” ministry but is expressed through all ministries, age levels, leadership meetings, etc. Leaders understand their catalytic role to model prayer in all contexts. KEYWORD: Integral
2. Churches with a healthy prayer ministry are equipping and involving children/youth through seniors in prayer and worship. The younger are being mentored and encouraged by those who are mature in prayer and intercession.
3. Churches with a healthy prayer ministry have identified prayer leadership that is in good relationship (trust and accountability) with their pastoral leadership.
4. Churches with a healthy prayer ministry intentionally train and equip regarding humility, submission, intercession, authority in Christ, spiritual warfare and practical dimensions of prayer ministry.
5. Churches with a healthy prayer ministry are engaged in prayer with the broader body of Christ. They are open to diverse expressions of prayer and intercession in their own church or with others. KEYWORD: Diversity
6. Churches with a healthy prayer ministry will provide focuses for prayer in specific prayer contexts and for the church as a whole. KEYWORD: Focus
7. Churches with a healthy prayer ministry are Pentecostal! They welcome all of the Spirit’s work and gifting.
KEYWORD: Spirit- empowered
Considering our responsibility as leaders to mentor others in their lives of prayer and spiritual formation let me suggest some actions based on these seven best practices that all of us can take to encourage vitality in prayer:
1. Model leadership that integrates prayer into all facets of your church or ministry’s activities. Look for opportunities to pause in praise, intercession or worship. Equip other leaders to lead in that manner as well.
2. Provide contexts for persons of various ages and backgrounds to listen to and pray for one another. Partnering mature believers with younger and newer family members in prayer is a great way to intergenerationally link God’s family.
3. Actively identify and connect with those who are specifically called to ministries of prayer and intercession. By building a strong trust relationship between pastors, ministry heads and prayer ministry leaders, one can assure that consistent, effective corporate prayer is occurring without the power plays and imbalances that sometimes happen.
4. Ensure that there is strategic and consistent teaching and training regarding all the dimensions of prayer. The best way to
ensure corporate wholeness in prayer and intercession is for leadership to create or sustain environments where God’s people can be equipped.
5. Participate with the broader family of God in prayer that will impact your community, province and nation. Welcome the diversity in prayer that comes with this involvement.
6. Maintain and communicate current prayer priorities for your church or ministry. Web pages, e-mail and phone lists can actively focus numbers of people to be in prayer and praise consistently.
7. Lead the way in exercising the Spirit’s gifts which Jesus has given us. Demonstrate a life of praying in the Spirit, prophesying, and providing words of wisdom and knowledge as you model the Spirit-empowered prayer life of a Pentecostal leader.
Beginning on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2009, our family of churches will be engaged in 24/7 prayer as various ministries and churches “Pray Every Day.” Our church in Jerusalem, King of Kings Assembly, through its Pavilion Prayer Tower ministry, will be launching this initiative. The Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador will join us in this emphasis, with their churches taking responsibility for every Tuesday. I would encourage you to register your church or ministry to participate in this call to prayer. It provides an opportunity to stimulate corporate prayer while being involved with the broader family of God. Equipping packages will be sent to each participating group. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Together may we hear the call, “Teach us to pray.” e
DAVID WELLS is the General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada