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Filed under: Everything in our Archives! — Phil Miglioratti @ 10:02 am

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April 20, 2009

Body Building BONUS ~ Leading / Facilitating Corporate Prayer

Filed under: Body Building Bonus!,Everything in our Archives! — Phil Miglioratti @ 10:02 am

 NOTE > Phil’s recent blogging is here >>>

Leading / Facilitating Corporate Prayer

Phil Miglioratti

>>>Note:

Let’s pray. Everyone bow your head, close your eyes . . .” And so begins a standard, down-the-list, around-the-circle prayer meeting. Unfocused prayers. Unenthused pray-ers.

The day when good intentions or strong emotions were enough to set the table for a strong and successful prayer gathering are long gone. Today’s prayer group, whether a class or committee, a study or fellowship group, or a congregation of many or few, desperately needs a leader with the ability to facilitate an “experiential”-an activity during which every person has an authentic, meaningful encounter, both with the ones they pray with and the one they pray to.

The solution is not to make the prayer experience more entertaining, educational, or expressive. Each of these elements is vital to a comprehensive prayer experience but without the engagement of those gathered with one another and the Holy Spirit, the time spent is more a human than a spiritual activity. Those who have the privilege of leading Christ followers in praying need first a new way of thinking about the process rather than a new program or set of methods and ideas.

A New Way of Thinking

Who are You? Yes, prayer starts with God and praying is ultimately about the glory of God (“Your kingdom come on earth . . .”) but the role of the person He has selected to lead is vital to the process. Pastors and prayer leaders must realize the difference between their role in leading and how to operate when facilitating. Leadership relates to casting vision, setting clear direction, providing compelling action steps. Leaders direct the process step-by-step, declare solutions to problems or hindrances, exert influence over a group or team to achieve a specific agenda or to take a particular action. Leaders are like symphony conductors; they select the music, determine the tempo, and stand front and center for all to see and follow.

Facilitators perceive their function differently. Facilitators have a clear focus and have prepared an anticipated format but are constantly submissive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as the corporate praying unfolds. They perceive themselves as an assistant to the Holy Facilitator, seeking the mind of Christ then guiding, even redirecting, the praying in that direction.

Facilitators think about the type of authority the group recognizes them to have, as it will make a difference in their readiness to follow, especially if new methods are being employed. Is the person facilitating a self-imposed leader (never a good idea), is he or she operating with delegated authority (for example, the pastor has selected him or her to lead the gathering) or has he or she been officially appointed to an ongoing role (the congregation’s prayer coordinator, for example)? The best scenario is to be recognized by those gathered as the one with the heart and skills necessary to facilitate rather than dominate the praying experience. Permission to experiment is related to the extent of trust the facilitator has built with the people gathered to pray.

What is the purpose? The purpose of every prayer meeting is, well, to pray, of course. But, since prayer is never an end in itself, the prayer facilitator must always discern the here-and-now reason for the group to dedicate its time, whether a few minutes or a few hours, to listening and talking with the Lord.

Facilitators ask a series of questions as they prepare and pray toward the meeting in order to recognize the unique-to-this-gathering focus or spiritual assignment. A group which meets weekly and follows a similar format each week should still have a sense that the prayers of this meeting are not merely the prayers of the past 51 weeks. God’s Spirit has placed into our hearts and minds the praises and promises, the problems and petitions that are fresh for this particular time and place of praying.

Where are you meeting? Even though we can pray anytime and anywhere, the effect of the environment is often overlooked. In an emergency, a group of people can pray effectively at the scene of an accident on a busy highway in the pouring rain but in normal circumstances, a facilitator will consider the room setting and do what is necessary to maximize its potential.

A small group, whether in a home, a classroom, or a large auditorium can easily and quickly form a circle and create a sanctuary feel that crowds out other noise or activity. Groups of several dozen or more, depending on the purpose of that day, may pray best in circles of six to eight chairs. If the only setting available is pew or fixed seating, the facilitator will need to instruct participants to move into pairs or stand in triplets or kneel at their seat in order to engage all who have come.

If the gathering is multi-church, the facilitator needs to do pre-meeting homework. Does the hosting congregation have local protocol? What is the dress code, at least for the facilitator? As a guest facilitator, should you recognize the host pastor or guest leaders from other congregations? Think carefully through how you will explain the guidelines for praising (“It is fine to raise your hands while we sing or as you pray.”) and offering prayers (“Please wait to introduce a new subject or focus until several have prayed over a topic.”). Offer guidelines that give both freedom (“You may kneel at any time or come to the altar area . . .”) and boundaries (“If you have a message you believe God wants you to speak to the entire group, please bring that to me before you speak it aloud”).

Practical matters, such as lighting, sound amplification, competing noise, access, seating arrangement, and room temperature, all impact the praying experience. The extra effort to provide the best possible setting is always well worth the time and energy invested.

When are you meeting? Unless the meeting time is fixed, the facilitator needs to consider how the choice of the day and the time impact participation. Every choice makes it feasible for some and difficult for others. Consider posting both start and stop times as this may benefit parents with young children who have early bed times (Are children welcome, as a way to disciple them in praying?). Time of day may also determine the style of songs selected; does it feel like time for rejoicing or quiet meditation?

Why is this person praying? In order to guide and guard the entire group (whether six or six hundred), the facilitator must be both a praying participant and a prayer observer. Total participation on the part of the facilitator makes it difficult to steer or stop the process. Observation without participation turns the facilitator into a director and methods become manufactured or mechanical. In a small group, the facilitator sits with the group but in a larger gathering, the facilitator needs to be visible to all (and accessible, if many small groups are scattered across the room.)

This active participation is important to the task of reading the prayer dynamic. The facilitator must be able to discern if silence is a sign of listening and contemplation or an indication the topic of prayer has been completed. When unsure, the facilitator should simply ask the group for feedback, such as “Does anyone else have a prayer for this need before we move to our next focus?” Then he or she should wait until someone prays or the silence continues (indicating it is time to introduce a new topic).

Listening to the prayers of the people is a vital task for the facilitator. It enables you to gauge how well participants understand your instructions. Is someone beginning with a petition when you have asked for a time of praise (extolling God for who He is) or thanksgiving (expressing gratitude for what He has done)? If you direct the group to pray from a specific passage of scripture, are the prayers offered based on the text? Is some instruction needed?

The goal in asking oneself “Why is this person praying?” is not to control nor is it to squelch anyone but rather to guide the praying back to the previous instruction or to discern a new leading of the Holy Spirit. Facilitators should neither quench the Spirit (saying no to a new leading because they are not sensitive) nor grieve the Spirit (moving in a direction not intended by the Spirit or moving prematurely).

Discerning the leading of the Spirit is a combination of spirit and skill. The spiritual component requires ongoing dialogue between the Holy Spirit and the facilitator. (Are we ready to move into a new topic? How do I encourage others to participate? The person praying is sad, even tearful. Is that a sign of God’s heart for those we are praying for?). The skill component requires the facilitator to listen carefully, communicate clearly, and confidently guide the process.

Listen to the prayers from a continuity perspective. Are we at the beginning, middle or conclusion of a prayer focus or topic?

Communicate by giving the group clear instructions. Is it obvious what you are asking them to do and have you repeated the instruction using synonyms for the key words?

Guide with brief comments (“We’ve moved too quickly from simple praise . . .” “When your group is done, please wait in silence for the others . . .” “Remember to begin your prayer with a word or phrase from the scripture passage.”)

This type of leadership in a prayer context is a paradigm shift for those accustomed to a start-and-stop style. Start-and-stop leaders are only responsible to tell the group when to begin praying and when or how to stop (“I’ll say the first prayer, others pray, then Deacon Hernandez will conclude our time.”). Facilitators not only give clear instruction at the beginning but as needed, throughout the experience. These interruptions, rather than distracting, are welcomed by those who want a corporate conversation instead of a down-the-list, around-the-circle routine.

How can the focus be formatted for full engagement? Even if the purpose of the gathering is to pray over a list of congregational requests, a format should be utilized. Nothing is more boring (possibly to God as well as those praying) than simply rehearsing a list of names or needs without the discipline of seeking to pray out God’s heart for the situation.

A format helps focus the prayers of the saints and allows the prayer leader to disciple the group into biblical praying. Biblical praying utilizes scripture to provide the text (such as using John 3:16 as the basis for evangelism praying), the topic (like Nehemiah pleading for his city), or the themes. Acts 1:8 offers an outward format: Jerusalem (our community), Judea (our state and nation), Samaria (our enemies far and near), the earth (other nations across the globe).

Formats may also be designed from acrostics, such as:

P-Praise

R-Repent

A-Ask

Y-Yield

Or:

Upward-Praise

Downward-Confession

Inward-God’s will for my life

Outward-God’s will for others (healing, evangelism)

Backward-Remembering God’s faithful actions in scripture and the past

Forward-Declaring our hope in God’s faithful action in and through our obedience

Facilitating a small or large group though such a format may be enhanced through power point slides that indicate the primary focus and/or present the scripture that serves as the basis of prayer. Intersperse the format slides with the lyrics of a song that will be sung as a transition. These lyric slides help move the focus of prayer from, say a section of adoration praying into a focus on confession. Simply begin to sing (a capella or with instrument or even CD background), for example, “Change My Heart O God” reminding the group the song is a prayer of petition set to music.

A New Way of Leading

Leading prayer as a facilitator requires:

A new role: You are a facilitator rather than a director

A new routine: Unscripted, dynamic, corporate conversation with the Holy Spirit

A new result: An uncommon prayer experience

“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (Jn. 14: 26).

Questions for Further Thought or Discussion

1. Explain how this corporate description of facilitation applies to the function of a prayer facilitator:

Smoothing the way. That’s what facilitate means: to make things easier, to smooth the progress of and to assist in making things happen. Like so much of our work, we think that facilitation is about moving things forward. It’s about allowing and creating an environment where things can move forward. It isn’t about pushing or forcing things.” Impact Factory

2. Explain how each of these components can be used in a prayer gathering:

Song-Singing to God, not merely about God

Scripture-Praying God’s Words back to Him

Story-Sharing success and struggles

Silence-Seeking, meditating, listening

Spoken-“All types of prayers”

3. Design a prayer format that includes:

Foundation-A biblical passage or theme

Focus-A specific application or topic

Format-A road map for praying

The author: Phil Miglioratti is Director of the National Pastors Prayer Network and Facilitator for the Church Prayer Leaders Network. He is the author of several chapters in compiled books including “Creative Ideas for Prayer Ministry” in A House of Prayer and “Pastor’s Strategies for Mobilizing Men to Pray” in Fight on Your Knees. Phil also has six blogs for Christian leaders (www.nppn.org).

Suggested Additional Reading

Franklin, John. And the Place Was Shaken: How to Lead a Powerful Prayer Meeting. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005.

Henderson, Daniel with Margaret Saylar. Fresh Encounters: Experiencing Transformation through United Worship-based Prayer. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004.

Henderson, Daniel. PRAYzing! Creative Prayer Experiences from A to Z. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2007.

Small, P. Douglas. Transforming Your Church into a House of Prayer. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2006.

Sacks, Cheryl. The Prayer Saturated Church. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004.

© 2008 PrayerShop Publishing. Reprint of this chapter, if providing free of charge for the sake of training is allowed. Reprinting for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited.

Contact Phil Miglioratti to schedule a Sermon, Seminar or Session of Prayer
Call 847-991-0153 or Email phil@nppn.org

Secrets to Facilitating Corporate Prayer

Filed under: Body Building Columns,Everything in our Archives! — Phil Miglioratti @ 9:55 am

Secrets to Facilitating Corporate Prayer

By Phil Miglioratti

As church leaders realize the need for more and fresher corporate praying, they recognize a critical need for people who can facilitate, rather than merely moderate. Moderators typically depend on printed prayer lists, requests offered by the group, and predictable methods and structures to guide the prayer time. Facilitators, on the other hand, make the whole experience easier to do, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide the content and format of the prayer time. By relying on Him instead of a rigid agenda, they enable the group to pray in line with the mind of Christ about the matters close to the Father’s heart.  

Good facilitating requires being mindful of the process that takes place before, during, and after the prayer gathering. Facilitators have taken the time to discover the “secrets” of leading a group into the presence of the God. 

Before  

Biblical facilitating is mostly about obedient listening. If you are the facilitator, the prayer meeting begins for you hours, even days, before the actual meeting as you ask the Holy Spirit to set the focus and design the format. Begin by asking God to design the upcoming prayer time. Try these suggestions:

  • Note impressions or ideas that come to you as you begin to pray, for instance the Holy Spirit may reveal Scriptures, songs, even stories that you can use as you facilitate prayer
  • As the meeting draws near, pray over the ideas and ask the Lord to clarify the main purpose of the prayer meeting
  • As the Spirit guides you, design a loose format for your time together

During   

Be ready to make adjustments to your original plan in order to avoid hindering the Spirit as the group moves forward in prayer.  

You will grow in their abilities to facilitate as you identify and sharpen the skills and tools the Lord has provided for you for your strategic roles. These include your:

  • ability to hear God speak to your spirit
  • skill at discerning God’s voice in the prayers of His people
  • readiness to yield to the leadership of the Spirit
  • employing your senses, for example…

Eyes – Ask the Spirit to show you what is happening in the spiritual realm through what you see in the physical realm. Look for signs of boredom (yawning?), conviction (tears?), seeking the Lord (searching Scripture without being asked?). Then, ask Him to help you discern how to continue.  
Ears – Listen to the heart of the prayers being offered. If several persons pray on a particular theme or issue, that may be a sign that the Holy Spirit wants to park there for a while. Be ready to gently remind people to stay on topic and make certain it has been covered before introducing a new topic or request. Refuse to rush; wait for the Holy Spirit to show you when it’s time to move on. 

Voice – You need not wait until the session is over to ask for feedback. Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit as He inspires the reading of Scripture, and through the prayers or observations of others. Ask questions such as:

  • What are you hearing in the passage we just read?
  • Does anyone else have a prayer on this theme before we move on?

Feet – When you divide the corporate body into small groups, walk around and listen to their prayers. This is a lifeline for you as you seek to facilitate the entire group. Your purpose is not to judge their prayers but to know how well each group is praying according to the plan the Holy Spirit is unfolding.

After  

Some of the best lessons on facilitating a group prayer dynamic are learned by listening to the participants discuss their experience in a “debrief” segment. The purpose of a “debrief” is to help participants feel comfortable with a new form or style of praying by talking about their experience and even voicing their difficulty or concern. A few simple questions after the prayer session has concluded usually prompt beneficial observations and good insights:

  • What was your experience like?
  • Was this style of praying different? Difficult?
  • How did the Spirit lead us?
  • What did you hear the Lord saying?
  • Any surprises? Concerns? Questions?
  • How did you feel when I asked us to…?

If your request is met with silence, don’t panic; silently pray for the Spirit to reveal something helpful through the comments of His people. You will gain valuable insight into the attitude and readiness of the group, allowing you to adjust the speed of change and the amount of instruction the next time you pray together. 

Of course the most effective prayer experiences are led by the Holy Spirit, but He is always looking for skilled people to get the group on the path and point the way.

Note>>> 

  • Phil has also written a chapter in a new textbook on prayer. Click here to view/purchase Giving Ourselves to Prayer. 

February 18, 2009

Body Building Bonus! ~ Five Reasons Why Pastors Struggle to Lead in Prayer

Filed under: Body Building Bonus!,Everything in our Archives! — Phil Miglioratti @ 10:24 am
.
Note >>> This post is a “bonus” to Daniel Henderson’s Body Building column “Kick-Starting Pastoral Leadership in Prayer” – You may add a comment or give feedback on either post . . .

Five Reasons Why Pastors Struggle to Lead in Prayer

(Adapted from Fresh Encounters – Experiencing Transformation through United, Worship-based Prayer;  by  Daniel Henderson; NavPress)

From my personal struggles and interactions with many of my peers, I discovered five basic reasons why pastors sometimes resist leading the way to a dynamic prayer ministry in the local church:

1. Many grew up in a prayerless church environment.

There is a Brazilian proverb that states, “The heart cannot taste what the eyes have not seen.” Today’s pastors often lack firsthand experience of what a dynamic prayer-energized church looks like.

Many pastors recall sparsely attended prayer meetings they’ve attended in the past. These sleepy prayer sessions featured a litany of personal requests or those for a third cousin twice removed.

Accordingly, some pastors are happy if they can provide such a prayer gathering for three people who want to unload their various burdens. But a church where the majority of the people gather in dynamic, worship-based prayer does not register on most pastors’ radar screens.

2. Most were trained in a prayerless educational process.

I went through seven years of formal undergraduate and graduate-level theological education at excellent institutions. While grateful for all the fine classes and grand truths, I never had a professor or pastor personally influence me in the area of prayer. Oh, there were great sermons on prayer and theological truths about prayer, but no one took me aside and taught me to pray by praying together on a regular basis.

Today, church leaders commonly receive many years of instruction about the ministry of the Word, while practical mentoring on the prayer ministry in the local church is neglected completely.

Few churches offer real teaching and practical instruction on prayer. The churches of my youth did not—or if they did, it certainly did not capture my attention. So how was I to learn? How do other pastors catch the passion?

3. All minister in a prayerless, success-oriented culture.

“Man of prayer” no longer ranks high on the typical list of desirable leadership traits for the local church pastor. Usually, the driven, over-achieving, “can-do” person is most admired in our society—and our churches.

Recently, I was in Utah teaching a prayer seminar at a statewide church leadership conference. After my session, a man approached me explaining that he was the chairman of the pastoral search committee for a congregation in that area. He pulled out a list of more than eighty-five desirable attributes for their next pastor. The inventory had been compiled through a recent survey of the congregation. Many of the qualities centered on communication skills, management ability, pleasant personality, and strong pastoral care interests. Nowhere on the list was there any mention of the priority of prayer as an essential characteristic for the new pastor. American society tends to value strong, natural leadership, dynamic programming, entertaining services, and impressive technology.  The idea of a pastor locked away in extended prayer does not strike the average churchgoer as a mark of effective leadership.

Some church members think it wastes time if the pastor spends energy attending prayer meetings. Many pastors realize this and decide not to go against the grain.

4. Some battle a prayerless personal life.

It is hard to take the church further than you have journeyed in your life. This sense of failure and guilt immobilizes many pastors in the church prayer ministry. Pastors know they should be leading the way, but as one leader wrote, “If I wished to humble anyone, I should question him about his prayers. I know nothing to compare with this topic for its sorrowful self confessions.” 1 These unfortunate confessions often lead to unnecessary excuses. As a result the prayer ministry is without leadership and everyone suffers.

5. Every pastor is a special target of the enemy.

The “Master of Distraction” does not have to lure your pastor into scandalous sin. He simply needs to distract your pastor with good church activities. As long as the primary leader does not tap into the supernatural work of prayer, the church will be content to engage in a nice, socially pleasing ministry, but will have little Spirit-empowered impact.

Body Building Column ~ Kick-Starting Pastoral Leadership in Prayer

Filed under: Body Building Columns,Everything in our Archives! — Phil Miglioratti @ 9:09 am
Kick-Starting Pastoral Leadership in Prayer

By Daniel Henderson

One of the greatest challenges in creating a strong prayer culture in a church is getting the senior pastor and the leadership staff to make prayer a priority in the life of the congregation. One church that has succeeded in doing this is WoodsEdge Community Church in The Woodlands, Texas.

Six years ago, Senior Pastor Jeff Wells would have described his ministry as a typical church that made plans, then asked God to bless them. Today prayer is fuels every aspect of the church. This change in direction came about because Wells and his team took some very specific steps to make prayer a priority.

• Honest evaluation.

Pastor Wells and his leadership team spent time at a retreat in candid discussion and prayer as they considered what their prayer commitment should be versus what it was in reality. They compared their behavior as leaders and a congregation with the biblical standard set by the early church in the book of Acts, which saw prayer as the main work of ministry. After this time of assessment, the WoodsEdge leadership team called the entire church to three days of prayer and fasting as a first step toward charting a new direction with prayer at the center.

• Accountable redirection.

As a result of their time in retreat, the leadership team committed to emphasizing prayer. They began by setting clear expectations for what their own examples in prayer should be among the flock. They also redefined the role of elders to comply with the principle of Acts 6:4 to give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Practically, this worked out in several ways. First, the pastors committed to spending an hour a day in personal prayer with the Lord. Then the  weekly staff meeting changed from a business and communication meeting to a worship and intercession meeting. Now the pastors and staff take a full day of prayer offsite several times a year. The pastors also recruited personal intercessory teams to pray for them and their families.

• Shared experiences.

Wells and his team read and discussed key books on prayer; a couple of their favorites were Jim Cymbala’s Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. In each case they talked about how the points these books raised, both inspirational and instructional, could apply to their context. They even took a trip to the Brooklyn Tabernacle, which Cymbala leads, for that church’s well known Tuesday night prayer meeting. Other prayer experiences they shared as a church included prayerwalks and concerts of prayer. The leadership declared a prayer emphasis for 2009, encouraging the congregation to raise the bar of their personal prayer lives.

• Communication.

Wells let the congregation know about this new commitment to prayer via the pulpit and emails. He also began multiple communications monthly teaching on prayer and clarifying the leadership’s vision.

• Consistent, visible practice.

The pastoral staff and elders began leading the Wednesday night prayer service, which had consisted of prayer after the worship team rehearsal. Over time the service grew. Today the prayer gathering begins with an optional hour of solitude during which people can come to the altar, pray at their seats, join a prayer group, or receive prayer from a prayer partner. The heart of the service begins with over 30 minutes of worship. Wells then leads 45-minutes of prayer that focuses on personal needs, ministry concerns, and other issues that the Holy Spirit puts on his heart. Other leaders are available to pray with people and often will lead in prayer as they focus on specific issues.

• Sustaining systems.

Approximately three years into the prayer emphasis, the church hired a full-time pastor to coordinate the prayer ministry. Doing so ensured proper training, communication, and organization for the prayer service, various prayer emphases throughout the year, and other weekly prayer events. Some of the changes Wells believes the church has experienced directly because of prayer include people sensing God’s presence more strongly, the church having more impact on the community and internationally, and some members experiencing physical healing.

Today the church’s website declares that the most important service of the week is the midweek, church-wide prayer experience, and a foundational statement in the church’s vision statement says, “We long to become a church that is a great house of prayer.”

DANIEL HENDERSON is an author, president of Strategic Renewal (www.strategicrenewal.com), a professor at Liberty University, Pastor of Prayer and Renewal at Thomas Road Baptist Church (Lynchburg, Virginia), and a facilitator who travels to more than 35 venues a year, equipping pastors and churches in prayer.

Note >>> Click here to read Daniel’s “bonus article to this column!

[ This Body Building column appeared in the March/April, 2009 issue of Pray!. Copyright © 2009, The Navigators. All rights reserved.  To subscribe, visit http://www.praymag.com ]

December 9, 2008

Body Building Column ~ Appoint A New Prayer Leader

Filed under: Body Building Columns,Everything in our Archives! — Phil Miglioratti @ 4:04 pm
By Phil Miglioratti
Whenever I teach or consult with church leaders who want to reinvigorate their corporate prayer life, I expect to be met with puzzled looks. That’s because I immediately suggest that they appoint a new prayer leader.

Am I proposing wholesale change in every prayer ministry? Do I expect even small congregations to find a more highly skilled leader? Do I dare make such a suggestion when I haven’t even met the current prayer leader?

Yes, yes, and yes. And I even know the name of the perfect person for the job: the Holy Spirit!

Most believers agree to the need for Spirit-led prayer. We believe the “Spirit himself intercedes for us” (Ro. 8:26) and desire to build ourselves up in our most holy faith as we pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20). The reason our corporate praying isn’t what it could be isn’t doctrinal but psychological and sociological.

It is psychological because our culture values assertive leaders. We eagerly follow people who take charge in the decision-making process because dependency and humble uncertainty are not viewed as positive leadership traits.

We also have a sociological blind spot because our culture readily delegates authority to people who give the impression that they know exactly what to do and precisely when to do it. Generally, if someone can make a group feel confident, that person becomes its leader.

Based on these mindsets, many churches typically select leaders for prayer ministries based on a person’s popularity, faithfulness, recognized ability to pray, and spiritual maturity. While these qualities may be good to have, they don’t necessarily indicate a person has the ability to hear the Holy Spirit, which is the main requirement to shepherd, facilitate, and lead a group in prayer.

So how do we begin the process of appointing our new prayer leader?

Demotion

The first step is the most difficult. Whoever currently leads prayer meetings, pastors or lay leaders, should intentionally surrender to the Spirit their authority to make decisions and set goals. These people don’t have to step down altogether, but they do need to realize that they are merely assistants. From now on, the Holy Spirit is in charge. When planning ministry activities or facilitating corporate prayer, prayer leaders will start to lead according to Acts 15:28: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”

In reality, this demotion is actually a promotion, since the values of God’s kingdom are upside down, from a human perspective. We no longer just invite the Spirit into our prayer ministry or meeting to assist us; we now accept His invitation into the heavenly prayer meeting of Jesus interceding to the Father (Eph. 2:6; Heb. 7:25).

Declaration

The pray-ers (and the entire congregation) need to know of their leaders’ change of status and their commitment to seek the Spirit before, during, and after times of prayer. You can communicate this new direction in a variety of ways.

For example, in a sermon the pastor can say something to the effect, “As we move forward in our mission, the leadership is committed to hearing the voice of God before we make any decisions or set goals.”

You could write on a prayer list, “Ask God’s Spirit to tell you how to pray for each name and need.” Or if you are teaching a class, take a moment to explain, “When you pray, begin by declaring your dependence upon the Holy Spirit for the wisdom and the words of how to proceed.”

Demonstration

Transitioning to Spirit-led praying is a process that may take some time. Here are a few simple steps you can take in leading groups into a more Spirit-led way of praying:

• Begin prayer times by inviting the Spirit of God to fill, inspire, and reveal God’s will from His Word.

• Explain why you are directing in a specific way or are making a change, such as moving from praise to petition. Express your sense of the Spirit’s leading, perhaps by saying, “Let’s go back to praying for our youth. We’ve moved too soon to other topics.”

• After a prayer session, ask for feedback on what people experienced as the group prayed together. A debrief segment allows the Holy Spirit to emphasize what He revealed or released during prayer and to affirm next steps and goals.

By becoming the Holy Spirit’s assistant, the human prayer leader’s focus shifts from the printed prayer list to the issues written on God’s heart. The group is able to pray with the mind of Christ because it is filled and led by the Spirit in an exciting adventure everyone can look forward to week after week.

Ask the Holy Spirit to be your new prayer leader, and start the journey!

PHIL MIGLIORATTI lives in outside Chicago with his wife, Carol. Most people would be surprised to learn Phil is a big fan of The Beach Boys.

[ This Body Building column appeared in the January/February, 2009 issue of Pray!. Copyright © 2009, The Navigators. All rights reserved.  To subscribe, visit http://www.praymag.com ]

December 7, 2008

Response to “No More Monologues” Editorial

Filed under: Everything in our Archives!,Feedback to the Editor — Phil Miglioratti @ 1:30 pm

Cynthia,

I wanted to thank you for a couple of things you wrote in the September/October issue of Pray! magazine.  First, I really enjoyed your article on praying for political issues and leaders.  I have used some of the same examples and arguments in my teaching on group prayer at church, and your article really rang true with me.  I’m especially grateful for the scriptures you included; I’m going to start using them as I pray for our country.

But I was especially moved by your editorial called “No More Monologues”.  It was such a reflection of my own prayer life and hit me at what I believe is a turning point in my prayer journey.  What you wrote about you talking to God in prayer and God talking to you through the Scriptures – that’s always been just how I looked at it.  I’ve never heard God speaking to me in prayer, and I’ve never been disappointed about it…I just accepted that that’s how it works for me, even though others seem to have a richer and deeper experience.

I’m beginning to yearn now for that deeper, richer prayer life – one that involves really understanding God’s heart and listening for His Spirit.  I’ve been reading Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and that, combined with your comments and input from several other sources all seem to be pointing me in the same direction of a more intimate, more personal conversation with God than I’ve ever experienced.  It’s stretching to say the least – not at all in my comfort zone (which is mostly praying through lists).  But I sense that this is God’s next step for me.

Anyway, your editorial just hit home to such a degree that I felt I had to write and thank you.

–Andrew Wheeler
<http://www.togetherinprayer.net>

July 29, 2008

Body Building ~ New Pray! Column

Filed under: Body Building Columns,Everything in our Archives! — Phil Miglioratti @ 6:21 pm
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Pray! magazine is introducing a new column in the January-February, 2009 issue. Alternating each issue will be  and Daniel Henderson and Phil Miglioratti who have a passion to enthuse and equip prayer leaders and mobilizers.

In between their printed columns, Daniel and Phil will be on the blog, responding to your questions, looking for your suggestions, and adding comments.

Before you move on in cyberspace, take a moment to leave your feedback or write a prayer for the effectiveness of this new Pray! venture!

Feedback to the Editor

Filed under: Everything in our Archives!,Feedback to the Editor — Phil Miglioratti @ 6:19 pm
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Hello Pray! magazine reader!

Your participation makes Pray! an exciting to read, led-by-the-Spirit magazine.

Use the Comment box to

  1. Tell us how you are led to pray for our work
  2. Give feedback to the Editor
  3. Suggest a future topic for an article or a resource worth reviewing

I may not reply to each entry but promise to read (and pray over) each one – SO, I hope to hear from you

Cynthia Bezek, Editor

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