By Bishop Sunny Emmanuel*
There is a popular catch phrase we thrown around quite often; “think outside the box.” In other words; don’t be limited in your way of thinking, or don’t tie yourself down with traditional ways of doing things. Let me introduce you to a new catch phrase; “think inside the vine.” To think inside the vine is to abide in Christ and immerse yourself in prayer to the point that you are no longer limited to just your resources or ideas.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches, if you abide in me and my word abides in you, then whatever you ask in my name, the Father will do it for you.” Life outside the vine is hard and dry. My advice is not to live there.
I don’t doubt you are trying to do a good job and your intentions are to succeed, but give me a break. What is it going to take to get you to pray? Let me list for you the cold hard facts.
1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.
- 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 50% are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- 85% said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people; such as disgruntled, elders, deacons, worship elders, worship teams, board members and associate pastors.
- 70% felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only fifty percent still feel called.
Give Prayer a Time and Place of Importance
You say prayer is important to you, but is it really? Oftentimes there is a huge gap between what we say we believe and our actions. If prayer is important to you then show it. Put your money where your mouth is by investing in prayer.
Creating a culture of prayer in your church is a lot like telling your children you love them. You can tell your kids you love them but the message doesn’t really come through until you show them you love them. Every parent knows that youth and children don’t spell love
l-o-v-e; they spell love t-i-m-e and m-o-n-e-y. Time and money demonstrate investment.
Show your church you value prayer by investing time and money into developing this ministry. Let’s break it down and look at both.
You have to set a time for corporate prayer in your church. The early church in the book of Acts had a set time to pray together. “Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour” Acts 3:1.
Once you establish a time, stick to it. Don’t move it around or make it be at the mercy of every other event on the calendar. When you do this, it devalues prayer by letting everything else have priority. Developing consistency also allows your church family the opportunity to incorporate the time into their schedules.
Another huge mistake is letting other events be scheduled simultaneously with prayer. If this is done, your emphasis on prayer and having people buy into your vision will be watered down. Don’t make your people have to choose over prayer. Instruct staff not to schedule meetings or other events that conflict with the time of corporate prayer. Teach people to sanctify that time.
Sanctify is one of those real religious words that sounds complicated, but really isn’t. It simply means to be set aside for God’s use. Setting aside one hour for the purpose of creating and developing a prayer ministry is a small sacrifice compared to all the benefits you will reap in return.
Spend some money in order to launch prayer in your church. Invest in areas that can help build the prayer culture such as adding a sound system, attending seminars, inviting guest speakers and purchasing training materials. You may have to remodel a room, put down some new carpet or repaint. So what? It should have been kept up to date in the first place.
You will never find a better return on your investment. No dollar or euro amount could ever be equated with how prayer will positively affect your ministry and increase the effectiveness of your church.
It all begins with you, the pastor. The only way to have a successful prayer ministry is for you to lead it. If you don’t throw your weight and influence toward this ministry, it will never succeed. If you don’t – it won’t.
I know it may seem strange, but people like the idea that their pastor prays. It means a lot to them. I can think of no quicker way to win their hearts that for them to know you are praying for them and seeking God for direction in leading them.
E.M. Bounds says in his book, Power through Prayer, “We are constantly on a stretch if not a strain, to produce new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the church and secure enlargement and efficiency. But men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods. God is looking for better men.”
The apostles realized they had to give themselves to pray in order to successfully do the work God had called them to do (Acts 6:1-7). In order for the Word to multiply, your church to grow and your people to develop, you as a leader need to stay focused on prayer. Do not allow yourself to be distracted. The demands of leadership are great, and no way can you accomplish them without prayer. Remember to think inside the vine.
We all know; nothing happens until someone provides leadership. We also know; everything rises and falls on leadership. Without prayer, what type of leadership are we providing? Leadership through prayer is the only way to successfully lead your church. A leader obviously does more than pray…but he doesn’t do anything until he prays.
*Bishop Sunny Emmanuel is a Senior Pastor with Christian Faith Centre International, Tilburg (Holland). He may be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org