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Developing a Prayer Strategy

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How will your church respond to the challenges and opportunities in your community or city today? Excuses are plentiful but the scriptures are clear about every church being a healthy body of believers who are following their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in obedience.

Every church is responsible for carrying out the Great Commission and living by the Great Commandment. Every church, no matter what size, is to be making disciples. The path is the same for small and large churches that have a burden to reach their communities for Christ and make disciples.

Some churches will develop new strategies, add a new program, or reorganize their structure looking for the answers. Three areas that need our continual focus for our individual walks and for our churches to be spiritually healthy are:

  • First, you must have an upward or God-focus. Colossians 2:9 says, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
  • Second, you must have an inward or personal-growth focus. 1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
  • Third, you must have an outward or others-focus. Matthew 22:39, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

A God-focus is a must! Who really transforms lives and develops people spiritually? The Holy Spirit of God! We can cooperate in that process but it is the supernatural work of God that is required in our lives and in our churches. Fanaticism has been defined as “Redoubling your efforts after your aim has been forgotten.”

Have we placed more trust in what we can do than in what He can do? Thom Rainer said this, “God calls us to make a transformational impact on the world, not provide a carnival of frenetic activity for ourselves.” Remaining God-focused helps us to never forget that just like a farmer who plants, fertilizes, and waters the fields, only God can make it grow.

Growth and transformation are first and foremost the work of God! If we need workers, which we do, the instructions are clear in Matthew 9:38, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” We say we believe in prayer but do we practice what we preach? Are we praying for our leaders, our churches, and our neighbors?

Here a couple of things that E.M. Bounds said about prayer, “Prayer is not preparation for the battle, it is the battle…Natural ability and educational advantages do not figure as factors in this matter of prayer; but a capacity for faith, the power of a thorough consecration, the ability of self-littleness, an absolute losing of one’s self in God’s glory and an ever present and insatiable yearning and seeking after all the fullness of God…Other duties become pressing and absorbing and crowd our prayer. ‘Choked to death’ would be the coroner’s verdict in many cases of dead praying if an inquest could be secured on this dire, spiritual calamity.”

JD Payne has said it well, “Strategic planning is both a science and an art that involves specific and abundant prayer. If God desires to pour out His Spirit on North America, what can we do to join Him in His work, rather than hinder the work?” Maybe the biggest part of strategy is not figuring out what to do but rather choosing what not to do!

Could it be that in our desire for results we have placed our confidence in how busy we are, how many programs we have, and how must stuff we have going on? Here are a couple of suggestions for implementing an intentional prayer strategy:

  • Protect your quiet time with God. Continue to develop a close intimate relationship with God through prayer. It does take discipline.
  • Make sure you are praying for the spiritual condition of people in your circle of influence even more than their physical needs.
  • Develop prayer teams that meet to pray for the lost, the spiritual condition of your church, and the leadership in your church.
  • When people ask you to pray with them about something stop right then and pray! Stop promising something you usually forget to follow through on.
  • Ask God to show you what you need to be doing and what you need to consider stopping. He is the best strategist.

All strategies need to be birthed out of the word of God and our prayer closets. They must be flexible and adaptable to the leading of the Spirit. There is no better strategist than God and He has called us as His workmen to plan wisely.

Maybe the first place to look is at what we need to stop doing instead of adding another activity. It doesn’t need to be stopped because it is wrong but because it is not the best and wisest way to invest our time and efforts. Psalms 37:23. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”

In A Work of Heart Reggie McNeal says, “God does not want His spokespeople relying on past techniques and methodology (previously, in Exodus 19, the rock issued water when Moses struck it.) He wishes the leader to rely on Him!”