Building A Prayer Ministry

By Dan Vis
August 31, 2018



Prayer is the lifeblood of any training center. If you want to see lives changed in your church, your will want to encourage prayer.

There are three basic steps to building a prayer ministry. First, create a way to communicate prayer requests quickly with the members of your church who have a burden to pray. Second, recruit as many people as possible to join that list. And third, explore ways to stimulate a greater desire for prayer in your congregation, so your list will continue growing.

In today's post I want to share one way to get a church prayer ministry setup and organized. Here is the plan, step by step...

Getting Started

There are actually lots of ways to get prayer requests out to your members. But here's the method we used at our church in Chicago: googlegroups. It's simple and free, and we recently updated our training center tools to integrate with it seamlessly.

To use it, you first need to create an account at google, and then go to www.googlegroups.com. If you are logged in to google, you should see a red button at the top that says "Create Group". Click it.

That should bring up a form requesting information about your group. Here's our suggested settings, though of course you would want to replace "Anytown" with a short version of the name for your church:

Group Name: Anytown Church Prayer Group
Group Email Address: anytownchurchprayer (@googlegroups.com)
This is the ID for your group. Jot it down.
Group Description: This is the prayer group for Anytown Church...
Group Type: Email List (default)
Basic Permissions:
-- View Topics: All members of the group (default)
-- Post: Uncheck all members of the group
(leave managers and owners)
-- Join the Group: Anyone can ask (default)   

Note: All of these fields can be changed later, except for the group email address, so choose that field carefully.

Once everything is filled out, push the red button at the top of the page that says CREATE. Confirm the captcha screen and wait a few seconds for google to set everything up.

When the confirmation screen comes up, click the option that says "Invite Members to Join".

To invite members to participate, simply enter a list of emails, and an invitation message explaining what this is all about in the boxes provided. Go ahead and invite a few friends if you like--or save that for later. You can invite new members to your prayer group at any time.

Last step.

If your church is a registered FAST training center, and you are a leader in your training center, login to FAST, go to your center, and look for the link in the menu area that says Prayer Area. There you will see a box to enter your googlegroups id. That's the first part of your group email address above--the part before the @ symbol. Enter that into the box and click save.

Your prayer group will popup, and everything should be ready to go. If for some reason, this does not work for you, contact us using the Help Hotline and we'll do our best to help.

Inviting Members

You've already added a few members perhaps, but you will want to continue recruiting and adding more members. Fortunately, it's relatively easy.

Make a few announcements at church. Get a few people to go around with clipboards and have them collect the emails of anyone who wants to participate. Let them know they will be sent an email invitation to join that they will need to confirm in order to be added to the list.

Be as positive and enthusiastic as possible. Many will be happy to join. The more the better!

Once you get some email addresses, you will want to send out the invites quickly, so people don't forget to confirm them. Here's how you do it.

Make sure you are logged in to google, and go back to www.googlegroups.com. This time look for your group in the bottom left menu area, and then click the name. That will open up a list of recent posts to the group. Now look for a link at the top right that says Manage. Click it.

You should see a list of current members. You can click a name to remove someone from the list if they want their name dropped. There's also an option to make them a manager, or even an owner of the group. This is useful if you need help managing the prayer group or there is a change in leadership of the group.

What you want now, however, is to find the Invite Members link in the side menu. This is the same screen you saw before. Simply add some email addresses, write a short invitation message and click the blue Send Invites button. Do this any time you have new members to add.

There is also an option to Direct Add Members but I advise against this unless you are absolutely certain they will want to receive messages from the group.

Keep working at it, and soon your prayer group will include a large portion of your church!

Using Your Group

In addition to adding and/or removing members in your group, you also need to be able to send out requests. And you need a way for members to get prayer requests to you for sharing. Here's how you do it:

Sharing Requests
The easiest way to share a request with the group is simply to send an email to the group email address you set above. As long as you are a manager or owner of the group (remember those settings?), your message will be instantly forward to every person in the group.

Hint: save the email address to your contacts list, so it comes up quickly when composing a new message.

Another option is to click over to the prayer area in your training center at FAST and click the red button there that says New Topic. It essentially does the same thing. You can also post directly from the group page at googlegroups. Just look for that same red button.

Updating Requests
To update a request is pretty simple also. One way is to just reply to the email containing the request, and your message will get forwarded to the entire group.

Or you can go to the training center prayer area (or googlegroups) and find the request you want to post an update to. When you click on the request, you'll see a small input box for a reply. Write something there, post it, and your update goes to the entire group. Make sure your group hears about answered prayers whenever possible!

Here's another helpful tip. Include a short quote or verse about prayer at the bottom of each email. This is one way to constantly educate the members of your church about prayer. It's easy to find quotes on prayer. Just google them! :)

Getting Requests

Encouraging members to share requests is another important key to building an effective prayer group. You'll want to regularly remind people to send in prayer requests, and post instructions about how to do it in your church bulletin. It's also a good idea to send out reminders to the group through the list itself, every once in a while.

There are several ways for members to report requests for prayer.

First, they can simply send a request to the group email address, or post a request to the group either in the training center prayer area (or at googlegroups). If they are not a manager or owner, those posts will go into a queue until they are approved.

Basically, every manager (owner) gets an email saying that a request has been submitted to the group with a link to approve or reject it. Click that link, review the request, and if it is appropriate, send it out. Or, reword it as needed and post it yourself. Or delete it.

Make sure you have someone specifically assigned to this task as some requests are urgent, and should be shared quickly. Note that you can view all pending requests at any time at the googlegroups page.

Prayer requests can come in through other means as well. A phone call, a note, a direct email to one of the leaders in your group, etc. Keep your ears open, and you will find plenty of things to pray for.

One BIG caution though: Be sure to always get permission before posting a prayer request about someone, and avoid giving unnecessary details that might violate their privacy. As your list grows, it's easy to forget how many people are receiving these messages--so it is always good to be careful about what gets posted.

Promoting Prayer

You now have all the basic tools you need to get your prayer ministry up and running. Let's close with a few ideas for promoting prayer in your congregation. This a big topic and deserves a more exhaustive discussion, but here's a few tips to get you started.

1. Do a major prayer ministry campaign at least once a year. Run it for an entire month to make sure everyone hears about it. Ask the pastor to kick it of with a sermon on prayer, or better yet, do a series through the whole month. Have clipboards on hand to recruit members for your prayer group the entire month.

2. Have prayer team members on hand at special events such as a week of prayer, or a weekend seminar. Use every opportunity to keep your prayer ministry visible.

3. Keep an announcement in the church bulletin about your prayer ministry with instructions about how to get added to the list.

4. Pick a day to visit the various SS classes and encourage the teacher to take 5 minutes to promote the prayer group and pass around the signup list.

5. If you have a FAST team in your church, be sure to visit that class when they cover the lesson on prayer in Basic Trainng.

6. If your church is a training center, do a promotion of our Prayer Secrets class. Follow these suggestions and make sure every graduate gets invited to join the prayer group.

7. Run a special prayer event at your church like a 40 Days program or a Daniel fast, and use the prayer list to send out the daily or weekly devotionals. For members to participate, they will need to join the group.

I'm sure you can think of additional ideas. Our prayer ministry team was constantly experimenting with different programs. Some worked great, others not so much--but everything helped. And thanks to a series of excellent leaders, our prayer ministry remained extremely active throughout my entire time there as pastor, and we saw many miraculous answers to prayer.

It can work for you too. Just follow these nuts and bolts suggestions for setting up a prayer ministry in your church. Get your prayer group setup, work hard to grow your team, and experiment with different ways to cultivate an environment of prayer. It won't be long before you're seeing miracles too!

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