TRAINING PRAYER LEADERS

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1 TRAINING PRAYER LEADERS

2 SESSION ONE GUIDING OTHERS IN PRAYER Christian leaders are busy people. They are action-oriented people. As you lead and train others to lead, you will find your time taken doing many important tasks: planning, preparing and leading Bible studies, discipleship, counseling, and other essential ministry activities. As a result, you may soon find yourself neglecting those activities that are essential for your own continued spiritual health and growth: personal Bible study and prayer. When you fail to spend adequate time studying and thinking about God s Word and praying, your relationship with Jesus will become weak. Finally, the weakness of your own relationship with Jesus will cause you to become an ineffective Christian leader. Jesus said, Apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:5b-6) Your relationship with Jesus is more important than what you do for Jesus. The vine is the life source for the branch. The vine provides the water and nutrition that the branch needs for life. When a branch is cut off it dies. Similarly, the source of your spiritual life is Jesus himself. It is only through your relationship with Jesus that you receive what you need for spiritual life. The strength of your relationship with Jesus will determine your spiritual vitality and growth. If you neglect your relationship with Jesus you will be like a branch that is cut off from the vine. When you allow busy-ness to cut you off from your relationship with Jesus, you will wither away. This is even true if you become busy trying to serve Jesus. If you spend adequate time, however, with Jesus in prayer and personal Bible study and are committed to obey what He tells you to do, you will be a strong Christian and a strong Christian leader. How has your own prayer life affected you as a Christian leader? Are you taking enough time in your schedule for personal prayer and intercessory prayer? One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples. (Luke 11:1-2) Jesus disciples wanted to learn to pray because they saw Jesus pray. Prayer was important for Jesus. Jesus prayed both in the morning (Mark 1:35) and at night (Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12). Often, Jesus prayed alone (John 6:15). But He also prayed with groups (Matthew 11:25-26), and at large public gatherings (Matthew 14:19). Jesus prayed before meals (Luke 9:16; 24:30; Matthew 15:36; 26:26-27), He prayed to intercede for needs (John 11:41-42), and He prayed for God s blessing upon other people (Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 24:50). Jesus also prayed at times when he needed to make significant decisions (Luke 4:42-43; 6:12-13) and in times of great personal crisis

3 (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:35-36; Luke 22:39-44).* Since prayer was such an important part of Jesus own everyday life, His disciples must have seen Jesus pray at many times, in many places, and on various occasions. The disciples realized by being with Jesus that prayer was extremely important. They also realized that they also needed to learn to pray. What do other people learn about prayer by being with you? If you call Jesus, Lord, and have committed your life to follow Him, how can you fail to follow His example of prayer? If Jesus, the Son of God, needed to pray, then you also need to pray. Like Jesus, you must become a person who gives adequate time and priority to prayer. In order to encourage other people to grow spiritually and to become strong leaders, you must guide them in the development of their prayer life. In order to guide them, first you must have a strong prayer life yourself. This is because other people will learn more about prayer by watching you than they will by listening to what you say. If you say, Prayer is important, but then disregard the importance of prayer by your actions by not taking time to pray and to lead others in prayer people who are under your influence may conclude that prayer really is not very important after all. But if you say that prayer is important, and then show by your actions that prayer is a priority in your life, you will teach other people, by your words and deeds, the value of prayer. You should develop a three-fold strategy to guide others in prayer. 1. Encourage everyone in your sphere of influence in the area of prayer. You can accomplish this, first of all, by developing your own prayer life. This should begin with knowledge and application of principles of basic prayer and intercessory prayer in your own life. If you have not done so already, it would be good to complete the Toolbox units, Basic Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, and Prayerwalking. 2. Teach specific groups of people about prayer. These may be groups of leaders or one of more small groups that you work with. A good place to begin is by teaching one or more of the Toolbox units related to prayer, Basic Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, and Prayerwalking. 3. When you notice a person who is especially gifted in the area of prayer, focus special attention on training this person to become a prayer leader. This may be done in two ways. It is best not to think of these two methods as either/or, but rather to include both methods in the training and development of a prayer leader. (1) Give the person the opportunity to lead in prayer. In the beginning, this may mean only that the person leads prayer at a small group meeting. This will then lead to other opportunities, such as responsibility for keeping up with and informing the group of intercessory prayer needs, leading a group prayer time, and planning and leading a prayerwalk. (2) Give the person the opportunity to be involved in teaching other people about prayer. Allow the person to work with you in leading a group through a Basic Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, or Prayerwalking unit. This may encourage the person eventually to take the lead in training other people about prayer. There is one word of caution: Remember to take into account the person s spiritual gifts! Just because a person is

4 gifted as a prayer leader does not mean that he or she is gifted to teach other people about prayer. DO NOT make a person teach whom God has not gifted to teach. DO encourage people to use the spiritual gifts that God has given them for prayer. Application 1. Train a small group, including at least two people other than yourself, using one of the Toolbox prayer units: Basic Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, or Praywalking. 2. Talk with your encourager or accountability group about what God taught you through this experience. *T. W. Hunt, The Doctrine of Prayer (Nashville: Convention, 1986),

5 SESSION TWO PRAYING GOD S WORD Romans 8:26 tells us, In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. One important part of encouraging people to pray and in training prayer leaders is teaching people how to pray using God s Word. The Basic Prayer unit includes the following explanation of using Bible passages as a basis for prayer. God speaks to you through the Bible. But you can also use the Bible to assist you in talking to God. You can use many passages in Bible as a basis for your prayers by praying these passages to God. As you do this, the Holy Spirit will speak to you through these words, revealing the meaning God s Word to you in a deeper way. He also will give you additional words to pray to God the Father words that you would never have thought of by yourself. You should encourage people to use Bible passages anytime and anywhere when they pray during their personal devotion time, when they are praying together as a group, or when they are praywalking. The best way to teach other people to use Bible passages in prayer is by your own personal example. If you do not already have the habit of praying Bible passages, now is a good time to begin! Read Ephesians 2:10: For we are God s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Think about how this verse applies to your own life by answering the following questions: 1. According to this verse, what is your relationship to God? 2. According to this verse, by what means did God create you? 3. According to this verse, why did God create you? Use what you have learned from this verse as a basis for a personal prayer. This prayer may include thanks (for God creating you and giving you purpose), repentance (for falling short of God s purpose for your life), and a request (that God will guide you to accomplish His purpose for your life). How could you also use Ephesians 2:10 as a basis for intercessory prayer? Any Bible verse that you can apply in personal prayer can also be applied in intercessory prayer. In the case of Ephesians 2:10, for example, you could thank God for creating a specific family member or friend. Then you could thank God that He has a plan and purpose for that person s life, beginning with a personal relationship with God through

6 faith in Jesus. If the person is already a Christian, thank God for the person s salvation. If the person still does not believe in Jesus, request that God will help the person become a believer and experience new birth and become a new creation. (At this point, you may want to include other Scriptures in your prayer such as John 3:3 and 2 Corinthians 5:17). Then, you can ask God to forgive the other person for falling short of the purpose of God s creation and ask God to continue to work in the life of the person so that God s purpose will eventually be fulfilled. As you have read this example, maybe you sense that God is leading you to pray this prayer for a specific person that you know. If this is the case, take time to pray Ephesians 2:10 for a person that you know NOW. You can use Bible verses when you pray anytime and anywhere. As you do so, other people will learn from your example. If you are inexperienced in the use of Bible verses in prayer, however, you may want to begin by using them as a part of prayer in your own devotional time. Then, as you gain confidence and experience, you will naturally begin to use Bible verses as you pray with your small group, when you intercede in pray for another person, and when you are prayerwalking. The Bible is filled with verses which can be used as bases for prayer. It is simplest to think of these verses in relationship to three categories: (1) praise and worship (2) God s promises (3) sins and weaknesses to overcome Some Bible verses may fit into more than of these three categories. Any Bible verse in any of these categories can be prayed either in relationship to yourself or in relationship to another person. Although it is impossible to list all of the verses in the Bible that would fit in these three categories, a sample listing is included below. This should be enough to get you and the other people you know started praying God s Word. Then, as you continue to grow in your knowledge of the Bible, you will want to add more verses to your list in each of these three categories. Bible Verses for Prayer Praise and Worship God s Promises Sins and Weaknesses to Overcome Genesis 1:1 Nehemiah 9:5-6 Psalm 8:1-9 Psalm 36:5-10 Psalm 40:5 Psalm 95:3-5 Psalm 111:1-8 Psalm 139:7-10 Psalm 145:3-21 Isaiah 40:28-31 Isaiah 45:2-3 Deuteronomy 31:6 Joshua 1:9 2 Chronicles 7:14 Psalm 23:4 Psalm 37:23 Psalm 73:23-28 Psalm 103:12 Psalm 121:7-8 Proverbs 3:5-6 Jeremiah 29:11-13 Matthew 11:28 Psalm 10:4 Psalm 51:1-13 Psalm 55:2 Proverbs 14:29 Proverbs 16:18-19 Lamentations 3:22-25 Hosea 10:12-13 Matthew 6:15 Matthew 7:1-2 Matthew 18:21-22 Mark 9:24

7 John 1:1-5, 14, 18 Romans 1:20 Romans 5:1-2 1 Corinthians 8:6 Galatians 4:4-6 Ephesians 3:14-21 Philippians 2:5-11 Colossians 1: Peter 1:18-21 Revelation 5:9-10 Revelation 11:15 Revelation 12:10-11 John 3:16 John 14:14 John 16:13 Romans 8:1 Romans 8:16-18 Romans 8:28 Romans 8:39 Romans 10: Corinthians 10:13 2 Corinthians 12:9 Philippians 2:13 Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:19 2 Thessalonians 3:3 Hebrews 13:5 1 John 1:7, 9 John 20:27 Romans 1:21-25 Romans 3:23 Romans 6:19-23 Romans 7: Corinthians 4:8-10 Galatians 5:16-21 Ephesians 4:29-32 Colossians 3:13 1 Timothy 4:1 1 John 1: John 4:1-3 Application 1. Choose one Bible verse from each category to use as a basis for prayer. 2. Pray using the verses you have chosen. You may want to these verses in relationship to both yourself and another person. 3. Talk with a small group about what God has taught you through this experience of praying God s Word. 4. Lead the group in a time of praying a Bible verse together. You may use one of the verses that you chose for number one, or you may choose another verse that fits the needs of the small group. Reflection 1. What have you learned about training other people to be prayer leaders? 2. What questions do you have about training other people to be prayer leaders? 3. What is your plan to share what you have learned about training prayer leaders with other people? 4. Talk with your encourager or accountability group about what God has taught you through this unit.

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