Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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This is good encouragement, Lewis. I have had a unique experience as an intercessor. In a previous church, I was both "inside" and "outside" of the administrative flow of the leadership, and learned to pray differently.
For many months prior to joining the "official" intercessors' group at the church, I had wanted to join but was prevented by the Spirit. Instead, I prayed as the Spirit let me for the staff, the services, and the people. It was an "alone" work.
Months later, the Lord told me to join the group and I received an invitation to do so. Now privy to the "administrative" side of things, I was able to pray more specifically for prayer requests and upcoming strategies of the church, along with staff needs I had not known about before. This, too,was productive, yet different.
I found that while both are good, there can be benefits to not being "in the know." Bogged down by prayer requests, we often forget to be "led by the Spirit" in our praying. We become more determined to cover every need on the list. We are less reliant on the Holy Spirit and more dependent on administration.
Ideally, there is a balance between the two. Pray for what you know, but keep praying for what only HE knows! In this way the life of an intercessor becomes more powerful.
Deborah, I've also had similar experiences. Additionally, I find that when I'm praying through lists (and I do tend to be a list pray-er), my tendency is to bring God the answers and ask him to bring about what I understand to be best. When I pray from less information, I'm more open to seeking God's answers. Certainly there are benefits to both types of prayer and I wouldn't discount either one. But sometimes I think our need to be "in the know" can actually hinder prayer.
I appreciate your comments. You certainly presented a good challenge--and that challenge is to avoid being bogged down by the many prayer requests. We need to let the Holy Spirit guide our prayers. I once wrote a song--part of the words of the song go "Just Keep Your Eyes on Jesus, as Peter learned to do--when he walked that stormy sea of Galilee." The rest of song focuses on the fact that Jesus will guide us.
Thank you so much for sharing. I know it will encourage others.
Additional Thoughts on Intercessory Prayer and being on Church Intercessory Prayer Teams--additional thoughts.
In this discussion—we have shared some items that I have not seen shared before—but are -so- important.
On seeing the above in this discussion—and after sleeping on what I had read and studied, here are some thoughts and questions:
If you are a prayer leader-in charge of a prayer team in a church—most of your team will follow your lead in prayer for the church.
Perhaps that prayer focus, which involves asking God to help us keep our eyes on Jesus, and asking His help in not being overwhelmed by the many issues that come up as we pray is needed, will help us keep the issues in their rightful perspective as the Lord gives the insight, and speaks to our heart.
The natural tendency—human tendency—is to focus on what seems to the most important issues of the moment. That will also affect our praying. Intercessors are not immune. Understanding that, what I am going to suggest something that is what some might consider to be an act of humility on the part of an intercessor. We, as intercessors, should not be afraid to ask others to pray that he/she will keep their eyes and heart on Jesus as we pray and intercede. Some people who are involved in prayer will not understand that request—but I believe the Lord will help some earnest people of prayer to truly understand what we are asking. That may be an area where we may have to be involved in training others about how to pray for us as intercessors.
The early Church Apostles focused on the Prayer and Ministry. Acts 6:4 (KJV) “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
The early church leaders notice the importance of prayer and ministry, and took steps to keep that focus.
The above are just some thoughts on the above discussion, which has been a frank and good discussion. In that discussion, we may have identified something of great importance for intercessors. That 'something' is the need to keep our eyes and heart on Jesus as we pray about the many needs and to let the Holy Spirit guide us in our prayers. Additionally, we may need others praying for us to keep that focus in our role when it especially involves leading prayer in the church.
Perhaps there are some other insights that should be shared—if so—please share them.
I really appreciate your suggestion that prayer leaders may themselves benefit from having intercessors praying for them. This fits well with Exodus 17, where Moses interceded for Joshua battling the Amalekites. When Moses got tired, Aaron and Hur held up his arms so that he could continue interceding over the battle.
I think that as prayer leaders we could also benefit from intercessors "holding up our arms" as we lead in prayer.
Good suggestion, Lewis!
After several weeks of thinking on and reflecting on this discussion, I have put together some thoughts that draws our discussion together and provides guidance for others. It is as the Lord is using this discussion to guide me where I am at, and I thank Him for that. Yes there are many books and articles on intercession and prayer, but hearing directly from those involved in intercession and prayer work of the church has yielded a direction that helps each of us seek the Lord. That is something I appreciate about Pray.Network.
Here are my thoughts:
A Church prayer team should have two parts:
One part should pray for the many needs of the church. They may be so many that it is hard to seek God’s best will for the Church. —they may not be able to see the forest as a whole but they do see the trees.
The second part should be free to seek the will of God for the Church. —They may not see the individual trees, but they see the forest as a whole.
Both of the above areas of involvement of intercessors are very important.
If it is not possible to have your prayer team in two parts, then it would be helpful to have one or more intercessors praying that you as a prayer intercessor and leader would keep your eyes on Jesus.
Reading your response brought me back to the scripture you shared weeks ago about the early church's division between those who served tables and those who devoted themselves to prayer. Interesting that you see yet another division into two parts : those who pray for the specific needs listed and those who seek God more fluidly for His will for the church.
This might not be a bad idea, in the sense that often, some intercessors need a list or a focus in order to stay on track, while other intercessors might have an easier time being "unfettered" and free to get in touch with what the Spirit is saying to the church.
I agree that both types still need to ask, "Lord what is your will." It's just an interesting thought that just as there are differences between deacons and elders (in function), so perhaps there are differences in intercessors as well (praying by the list or the Word) and praying more prophetically (in the Spirit).
We DO need both, and one is not higher than the other. But recognizing the unique "bent" or gifting of the individuals on our teams could be immensely helpful. (For example, based on our conversations, Andrew admits to liking lists; I detest them!)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :-)
Thanks for you comments--Many when they pray together do not understand the dynamics of prayer. You certainly have informed us of one, that parallels what we have been talking about.
I put a post in another area of this group and will place it again here. Recognition of the way people pray will do a lot to encourage prayer. Here is the post:
Indeed there is room for Intercessors who are list prayers as well as those who avoid lists. the nice thing about list prayers is that they will see that everything is covered by prayer. They are needed.
This list that I compiled years ago might be helpful. There are many ways people will intercede, and this list shares some of those ways. The list includes 'list praying' and also a number of other areas. All these areas are important.
We will probably see some of these types of prayers in a prayer team from time to time. All are important in the total picture of what is happening in a church.
After having been a part of this discussion and been involved in prayer ministry for a number of years, there is something that recently I 'personally' have been challenged to seek. That is the compassion of God guiding my heart as I pray, and that God's compassion would help me encourage others by speaking directly to the heart showing God is interested in the person I am talking with. We pray about many things--but that request for me takes really opening my heart to the Lord in a way that I just cannot describe-it is letting heart language speak to the heart and responding with heart language. Some may say don't intercessors already do that? Many definitely are already doing so.--As I pray with and for others or an organization, I want the Compassion of our God to guide my heart and my prayers. It doesn't matter if that is praying lists or another way of praying, as long as my praying is guided by the Spirit of God. This approach is new to me, personally. I share this to encourage all who read it to take the time to learn how to spend time with the Lord listening to heart language, and speaking to the Lord with heart language and letting the Lord's compassion for others build in our hearts.
Thank you Vicki for your comments.