Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Pastor as Prayer Champion

By Phil Miglioratti

As a former senior pastor and a current national prayer mobilizer, I’ve had opportunity to interact with many pastors and prayer leaders. I have experienced that one of the goals of many churches is to enable its lay people to minister. That’s certainly biblical. But often the senior minister will abdicate his responsibility to those who are given leadership in a certain area.

Many ministries flourish under lay leadership. Prayer, however, has a little different dynamic. A good prayer leader can oversee and develop a great deal, and can be an invaluable asset to a church. But prayer will grow far more quickly if the senior pastor stays involved.

Pastors have a lot to supervise! But pastor, if we are in agreement with Acts 6, the early church leaders focused on two things: the Word and prayer. Your church will only grow in prayer as you take an interest in it. You do not need to lead everything, but you should show your congregation that prayer is important to you.

Let me suggest a few ways you can maintain responsibility by becoming a better prayer champion.

A prayer champion practices prayer. Talking with the Lord is a personal, daily experience (1 Thess. 5:17). Develop a hunger for learning about prayer and connecting with God. Don’t let prayerlessness operate in your life. Perhaps you need to take a prayer retreat. Read books such as Deepening Your Conversation with God by Ben Patterson.

A prayer champion promotes prayer. Be an advocate. Challenge your members to make prayer a priority in their lives and to come to corporate prayer times. Cast a vision to become a house of prayer with your leadership. Recruit potential prayer leaders and equip them with resources, workshops and conferences. Present a yearly teaching series on personal and corporate prayer.

A prayer champion participates in prayer. Be visible and verbal in the prayer life of the congregation. Practice 1 Cor. 11:1: “follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” If you want to see corporate prayer increase, regularly participate in prayer meetings, either by facilitating or merely taking a seat in the circle. Allow people to pray for you. Many pastors have a team of men and women who shield him or her through ongoing prayer. More and more pastors also demonstrate their personal participation by joining a Pastors’ Prayer Group.

A prayer champion provides a variety of prayer opportunities. A one-size-fits-all approach seldom works even for a small congregation. Work with your prayer team to develop ways members can connect. Introduce a prayer room, a prayer chain, have a concert of prayer. Plan a prayer retreat for leadership and ministry teams. Encourage Prayer-during-the-Worship Service Teams. The place of prayer needs many doors and windows to encourage optimum participation.

A prayer ministry team of laypeople is a vital cog in growing prayer in your church. But every congregation needs a pastor prayer champion—a man or woman of God who leads the charge into and out from the prayer closet. If you refocus your efforts in the prayer arena, you will see positive results in every aspect of ministry. Just as the early church leaders pulled back from other things they were doing—perhaps it’s time to refocus your energies as well.

Just as Pastor Rick Crocker’s church and ministry reached a new level when he refocused and made prayer foundational in his life, yours will too.

--Rev. Phil Miglioratti is the director of the National Pastors' Prayer Network, the managing editor of The Praying Pastor e-magazine and the facilitator of CPLN===>Click headline to find out about the resources fo the Church Prayer Leader's Network

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