It’s a dramatic scene: Jesus – the gentle Healer angrily toppling tables and cracking a whip as He storms through the outer courts of the temple.
We don’t like to think very much about this story. We’re not comfortable with a Savior like ours losing His temper like that.
And yet it’s recorded in all four gospels (Matt. 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:13-22)! We have to ask ourselves why He wanted this tirade recorded in Scripture. The answer is written in the verse Jesus quoted in the midst of his outburst, Isaiah 56:7:
“These [foreigners] I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar.
for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (NIV, emphasis added).
The outer courts of the temple were for the “foreigners.” In Jesus’ day that translated as the Gentiles—basically, everybody else besides the Jews. Consider this; when Jesus pitched His fit, He had us in mind!
Jesus’ anger burned against what religion had made of His Father’s heart. In their inward focus, the church people of Jesus’ day allowed their love of money and religious ritual to swallow up the spirit of evangelism, generosity, and missions that God holds dear. And the way to get that back? It’s through the ministry of prayer!
“MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS.”
Is that what people call your church? Are you known as a house of prayer for all nations?
If not, why not?
Perhaps a better question might be, “If not, why not now?” And “why not you?”
Here are four simple steps to starting a prayer ministry in your church.
Step 1: Understand that you desperately need a prayer ministry.
Jesus wants you to have one—He feels rather strongly about it.
Not only does He state clear as day that He wants our churches to be known because of our prayer ministries, but He also tells us that we can do absolutely nothing without them.
Consider John 15:5:
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (NLT, emphasis added).
Prayer is what we do to abide in Christ.
Look around, Satan is on a rampage. I’m certain that much of his uncontested advance is due to the lack of prayer in our churches.
Step 2: Choose a prayer ministry plan.
My suggestion is to choose one of these ministries and let it be in place as God works through it to expand a culture of prayer throughout your church.
Open a Prayer Clinic.
Start here! The Prayer Clinic is a one-stop shop for resources that will mobilize your church to pray. Through teaching and developing prayer leaders, you can open an intercessory prayer ministry modeled after the minute clinics at local drug stores. The Prayer Clinic includes the Prayer Clinic Hub, an online tracking system that allows you to pray and stay with people until God answers their prayers. When you pray and stay with people, you have the opportunity to grow with them through the journey. With the Prayer Clinic, your church will discover that God really does hear and answer us when we pray. To learn more about how you can open a prayer clinic ministry, go to prayerclinic.com
Open the Prayer Room.
At our church, we have a prayer room that is accessible 24-7. We’ve furnished this room comfortably and filled it with resources such as Scripture prayer cards, books, and interactive prayer walls where participants are invited to intentionally pray prayers related to our church’s mission plan. We encourage our small groups to pray in the prayer room and host special interest prayer groups there. The Prayer Room tells the church that prayer has a place in your church’s life.
Enlist a Prayer and Fasting Team.
We have over 100 prayer partners who commit to fast and pray a day a week or month for the specific requests submitted by our church staff members on the “Private Prayer List.” When team members pray over specific requests and begin to see those requests answered, their faith grows and the ministry of prayer in the church expands. It’s easy to lead this ministry. Simply enlist team members via a JotForm and send them an email once a month that includes an updated “Private Prayer List” as well as a tidbit of teaching on prayer. Be sure to celebrate answered prayers and share the stories behind the answers.
Step 3: Convince your pastor that you need a prayer ministry.
This is crucial to your success. If your pastor isn’t on board, you’re not ever going to have a vibrant prayer ministry. Here’s how to convince your pastor that you need a prayer ministry.
- Pray for him. Ask God to open his mind and heart.
- Ask God to give you favor when you speak with Him.
- Prepare your message.
- Make an appointment.
- Present a clear request.
- Submit to his leadership, and together determine the best way to proceed.
Most likely, your pastor wants a praying church, and he just needs someone (like you) to coordinate and lead the ministry.
I had the privilege of interviewing my husband Tom McCoy (senior pastor at our church), and our Next Gen and Teaching Pastor Sam Landrith on The Prayer Clinic Podcast. Send your pastor a link to this episode of my podcast so that he can listen to it before you meet. He will enjoy hearing Tom and Sam share the importance of pastors prioritizing prayer in the church: “Pastors and Prayer” on the Prayer Clinic Podcast.
Step 4: DO IT NOW!
Prayer is the simplest and hardest thing to do. If you don’t have a prayer ministry in your church, why not start one right now?
Jesus was pretty passionate about it.
There are resources galore to help you.
And God will give you success.
Today’s a great day to make your church a house of prayer.
Leighann McCoy has written several books. Her most recent are: Taking Responsibility for the Choices We Make (2017), Spiritual Warfare for Your Family (2016), A Woman’s Guide to Hearing God’s Voice (2013), Oh God Please! Teach me to Pray and Oh God Please! Help me with my Doubt (2012), and Spiritual Warfare for Women (2011).