Jack Miller, founder of World Harvest Mission, wrote the following outline to encourage prayer among missionary teams. Even for non-missionaries, these guidelines are extremely helpful and could be modified for a family, small group, or ministry team.
Effective Team Prayer by: C. John Miller
The Need for Learning Team Prayer
A. If we let ourselves go, we will shift the focus of our faith for ministry to a reliance on “secondary means” every time. (Galatians 3:1-5)
1. Those secondary means can include training; program (our vision//goal); gifts on the team; money; past experiences.
2. At issue: a shift in focus from the Spirit to a reliance on human beings, or a favorite idol.
3. This makes prayer a defining battle ground because only through prayer do we learn to humbly fellowship with the Father and the Son and receive the power of the Spirit. (Luke 11:1-13)
If we see the only power that adequately empowers the Church is the Presence of the living Christ — prayer is worth the battle.
B. We fully come to understand and experience the Lordship of Christ as we pray together in humble dependence on the Lord for his power and experience his powerful deliverance. (Acts 4:23-31)
1. This kind of prayer provides for a corporate humbling and breaking of the will and pride of the team. Christ is Lord- not Us
- Self-sufficiency- the dynamic of sin pooled together has a greater effect than individual sin (Gen 11); so must the corporate breaking- compare Acts 1:14, 4:31ff.
- We must ask God to change the harvester first- and he does this by again and again by stripping away every hope but Christ. (1Peter 4:17)
- Sometimes this requires a crisis as severe as salvation. We must let God break us as a group. We need to embrace this, though it is naturally the last thing we want.
2. This kind of praying recognizes we need the supernatural work of the Spirit in building the team.
- Consider the 12 Apostles and the diverse personalities/egos and natural barriers: fishermen with bad tempers and a tax collector for Rome and political zealots for Israel
- The [missionary] team needs to be seen as something flowing from Christ’s power to do his will, or we may as well stay home.
- The evidence of the need for this kind of prayer comes to us strongly when we go out and mess up and realize we went presumptuously; we think we’re spiritual, ready. The failure shows us that we must re-learn God again and again – a change in heart attitude which results in actions that flow increasingly out of the Presence and will of Christ. (John 15)
C. Prayer is the spiritual means for moving the kingdom forward through spiritual barriers. (Luke 11:2-4 cf 18:1-8)
1. The barriers have an outward look, but are rooted in spiritual, invisible forces
- You can’t see heart attitudes – but they effect everything we are/do.
- You can’t see spiritual forces of evil at work- but their effect is all around us.
- Prayer is the means God has appointed for breaking through these walls.
2. Without prayer as the central force, you can only achieve what is humanly possible.
- Failure occurs, and we can always find secondary reasons to explain the failure – but often they are only superficial reasons, because we never really moved into God’s plane of existence through prayer.
- Prayer is a barometer of a team’s faith: a faith that rests on the knowledge that we can’t do it. If we sense we can, there won’t be much prayer. (However, prayer as a legalistic tool won’t work here either- cf Matt 6:7)