As a leader you can easily be overwhelmed by the demands of ministry. The good news is that you are not alone! Jesus never intended that you do ministry in your own strength, relying on your own ingenuity and resourcefulness. He taught disciples to maintain a vibrant, inner fellowship with Him, “because you can do nothing without me” (John 15:5).
Jesus did not practice prayer as a programmed activity or a religious discipline. He did not pray because He was “supposed to pray.” He prayed as a natural expression of His love for His Father. Prayer is a relationship!
How can you saturate the ministry you lead with prayer? Acknowledge and include Jesus in everything you are doing! Invite Him into every conversation and decision. If prayer is a relationship, then it is a relationship you carry with you into every ministry you lead.
Start with Your Heart
Long before Jesus taught the disciples to pray, His desire to spend time alone with His Father was evident (Mark 1:35). Jesus prayed spontaneously, sometimes in the middle of speaking to a group (Matthew 11:25-26)! He was conscious of the Father’s presence no matter where He was or what He was doing (John 5:19). Prayer was a normal and natural feature of the disciples’ interactions with Jesus.
How would you describe your heart relationship to God? Do you love Him? Are you growing in your knowledge of who He is and what pleases Him? Do you enjoy fellowship with Him daily? Do you bring Him your needs (and the needs of others)? The reality and depth of your relationship with God will draw others to seek Him too.
Explain Why Prayer Matters
Your team’s motivation to pray is affected by their understanding of the importance of prayer. Many Christians struggle with doubts and wonder to themselves: “does it make any difference whether I pray or not?” Help your team find meaning in their prayer time together by reminding them why prayer matters.
When we pray for His direction as a team, we are acknowledging His authority and our role as His servants. Jesus is Lord, the living Head of the church (Colossians 1:18). As our King, He already has a plan for us to fulfill individually and as a team—our task is to follow His lead one step at a time (Ephesians 2:10).
When we pray for His provision as a team, we are relying on Him to supply everything we need to accomplish everything He has called us to do. When Jesus told His disciples to feed thousands of people miles from the nearest town, He was intentionally putting them in a situation that would test their faith (John 6:6). If we pray for His leadership in ministry, we must be prepared to trust Him to supply every need we encounter. When we do, we can expect a supernatural result!
Prioritize Time to Pray Together
Schedule time for your team to pray together without being rushed. When you meet, read a scripture promise that relates to your ministry. Identify current ministry needs requiring His direction and provision. Encourage team members to share ways they can pray for one another. Keep track of personal requests, exercise confidentiality within the group, and celebrate His answers!
Serving a rapidly growing church years ago, I was expected as a staff member to participate in the monthly meeting of our deacons, but it was no ordinary meeting! On finishing the always-brief business agenda, the chairman would lead the group in a prayer time that would take up the remainder of the hour. He would pose questions like “who do we know that needs to be saved?” and “who is out of work and needs a job?”, writing the names down on a large markerboard. Then the entire group of men would get down on their knees and fervently pray over every name. Each new chairman continued to prioritize prayer in the monthly meeting, impacting hundreds of lives as the Lord answered the heartfelt prayers of those deacons.
Pray for Each Team Member
In Ephesians 6:18, Paul set the standard for prayer in the church when he urged that intercession be made “for all the saints.” Everyone needs someone praying for them!
Pray regularly for individual members serving in the ministry you lead. When a member shares a personal need, whether privately or as part of the team prayer time, make it part of your leadership responsibility to continue interceding for that request. Follow up later with a call, note, or text to assure them of your prayer support. Be among the first to call or drop by when a member of your team experiences a crisis or tragedy.
Invite Others to Support Your Team through Prayer
Gather a group of people who will pray for you and the ministry you lead. Whether through newsletters or group texts, communicate what God is doing and share specific needs you have for prayer. If your ministry is associated with a physical location, encourage your ministry supporters to prayer walk the premises.
In his letters, Paul often asked others to partner with him in prayer for specific needs. For example, he asked the Colossians to pray “that God may open a door to us for the word” and “that I may make it known as I should” (Colossians 4:3-4). Paul mobilized prayer support from people too far away to join his work, but by praying they became intimately involved!
How can we saturate the ministries we lead with prayer? When we think of prayer as a relationship with Jesus, saturation is achieved by submitting every aspect of ministry to Him – where we go, what we do, and how we do it. Since Jesus is the source and supply for all authentic ministry, why would we attempt to do anything without Him? Understood in this way, prayer and ministry are inseparable.
(Written to encourage deacons, this article was originally published as “How to Saturate the Ministry You Lead with Prayer” in the Winter 2020-2021 issue of Deacon Magazine, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources.)