How to get the church to pray for your work?

28th January 2019

Last Sunday I visited a large Charismatic church in my town. Everything was going great. The worship was good, the teaching was powerful until the moment when the worship leader invited people from different nations to come forward so he could pray for them and their countries.

Several people got up and took their places in front of the stage – people from Kenya, Nigeria, Japan, Uganda and a few other nations I can’t recall.

A couple of minutes later the worship leader began to pray  – and my heart sunk as I heard him utter general phrases like ‘God unleash your power over these nations.’  ‘Bless their leaders and help them draw closer to you.’  ‘Reign supreme in these nations because you are God.’

And I wondered: does God answer un-informed generic prayers? How likely are the members of this congregation to respond to pressing needs for prayer and donations if they are not aware of what is happening to Christians in countries  like Kenya, Uganda or Nigeria?

As someone working with Christian charities to help them create effective communications including prayer diaries, newsletters and stories for social media I probably know too much about what’s going on with Christians in Uganda, Kenya or Nigeria.

But, so should they. The members of that church, including the worship leader, should know about the suffering of Christians in Nigeria. They should have heard about the recent bombing of a hotel in Kenya or the poverty and suffering in parts of Uganda.

Because they are receiving prayer diaries and other materials shared by Christian charities. In fact, some of these materials  where there in the church foyer.

So, why the communication breakdown? Why aren’t some or one Christian ministries’ stories and prayer requests sitting on the shelves rather than informing the collective prayers of a church congregation on an average Sunday?

  • It is because Christian charities often ask their supporters to pray but fail to encourage them to share  stories and prayer requests with others in the church? This means that – more often then not – only a handful of people in any congregation are aware of the pressing needs and challenges Christians might face in different parts of the world.
  • Or is it because Christian charities are sending their magazines and prayer diaries to ‘the wrong’ person/contact in the church? Often charities send their materials to the minister who often is too busy to notice or use them or an appointed contact who just puts the magazines and prayer material in a stand in the church foyer.
  • Perhaps a third reason for the communication breakdown is  that most Christian charities focus on raising awareness, prayer and funds from churches once a year. Several Christian charities believe they are engaging with churches through ‘special Sunday’ events and resources but what about the rest of the year?  How is the church to pray and support Christians worldwide for the rest of the year?

Whats the solution? – Here are some suggestions to consider if you are involved in creating prayer materials and individuals and churches:

  • Include topical prayers in response to world events in prayer diaries and ask supporters to share these prayers in their churches. You can do this well through social media channels – whenever something significant happens in that part of the world your ministry works in – draw attention to the news item, outline what the implications for Christians in that country might be and invite prayers and ask people to pray not just individually but as a church too.
  • Encourage prayer partners to engage the whole church in prayer for your work.  For example, if the worship leader says ‘lets pray for these friends from Nigeria’ – share with others in the church about the persecution Christians are facing in Nigeria and pray for their safety. If your church’s worship leader seems a bit clueless on ‘christian news and world matters’ give them a magazine or a prayer diary, anything that you feel might deepen their knowledge and inspire them to pray in an informed way.
  • Think creatively about engaging with church and worship leaders not by just sending them packs of resources but by meeting them where they are, at regional events, conferences and through online channels. Think about developing genuine prayer partnerships with them and their churches so your stories and your prayers can be shared all year around and not just once a year.