Pathways to aPraying ChurchA Study of Corporate PrayerMargie Burger
Pathways to aPraying ChurchA Study of Corporate PrayerMargie Burger
Cover Design by Steve Wolverton, Director of Media, ARMIllustrations property of Aldersgate Renewal Ministries. Used by permission.Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from the New Revised StandardVersion of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education ofthe National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission.All rights reserved.Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEWINTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV). Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by InternationalBible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.Scripture quotations marked TEV are taken from the Good News Translation,Second Edition, Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.All rights reserved.No part of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, print or electronic,without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied incritical articles or reviews.
CONTENTSUNIT ONE - PRAYING TOGETHER 7Chapter 1 - The Importance of Corporate Prayer 9• Small Group Bible Study and Sharing Time 15Chapter 2 - “The Harp and the Bowl” 18• Concert of Prayer – The Lord’s Prayer 22UNIT TWO - THE HOLY SPIRIT AND PRAYER 27Chapter 3 - Prayer in the Power of the Holy Spirit 29Chapter 4 - The Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Prayer 34• Frequently Asked Questions and Answers 43Chapter 5 - Praying for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit 45UNIT THREE - TOOLS FOR CORPORATE PRAYER 49Chapter 6 - Prayer Walking 51Chapter 7 - Prayer for Pastors and Spiritual Leaders 58Chapter 8 - Praying for Revival by the Power of the Holy Spirit 72Chapter 9 - Identificational Repentance 83Chapter 10 - Spiritual Warfare 92Chapter 11 - Intercession 111Chapter 12 - Prayer Summit 129Chapter 13 - Soaking Prayer 133UNIT FOUR - PRAYING FOR HEALING 139Chapter 14 - Ministering to the Whole Person 141• Journaling Activity: Personal Preparation for Ministry 148Chapter 15 - Prayer Team Training 150• Guidelines for Ministry 158• Praying for Inner Healing and Deliverance 167BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCES 171ABOUT ALDERSGATE RENEWAL MINISTRIES 172OTHER RESOURCES 173
7Unit 1PRAYING TOGETHERLife together in the body of Christ is amazingly simple and also extremely profound.Scriptures indicate that believers should worship together, pray together, experiencethe gifts of the Holy Spirit together, witness together, and perform acts of love andservice together. That’s just a few of the ways God expects us to live together asthe body of Christ.Many of us are comfortable worshiping together and serving together, but somehowthe experience of praying together eludes us. For some, it evokes sweaty palms andfear of what others will think. For many it is the result of receiving teaching thatprayer is only personal and private.In Unit 1 we will delve into the scriptures to lay the foundation for the importanceof praying together, share with others our journey to be a part of a house of prayerand experience a unique model of corporate prayer. As you study this material withyour small group, you are encouraged to participate fully in the suggested prayeractivities. This study is more than an opportunity to learn about corporate prayer,it is an opportunity to experience God together as you are challenged to experimentwith a variety of styles of corporate prayer.
PATHWAYS TO A PRAYING CHURCH - 9Chapter 1The Importance of Corporate PrayerCorporate prayer is simply praying together with others in the body of Christ. Itis purposeful prayer that develops from a common vision and unity in the body ofChrist. Corporate prayer often begins with prayer partners, when two believersgather to pray together. Many times corporate prayer is exemplified by small groupprayer. However, it also extends to opportunities for entire congregations or wholecommunities of believers to gather for prayer.Corporate prayer is powerful because there is multiplied power in corporate prayer.Leviticus and Deuteronomy highlight the multiplied power given when believerscome together in unity. One exciting purpose of praying together is to see the enemydefeated and God’s kingdom advanced.“Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred ofyou shall give chase to ten thousand; your enemies will fallbefore you by the sword.” (Leviticus 26:8)“How could one have routed a thousand, and two put a myriadto flight, unless their Rock had sold them, the LORD hadgiven them up?” (Deuteronomy 32:30)Unified corporate prayer defeats the enemy. Praying the scriptures to defeat theenemy is an appropriate and effective battle plan. Remember Ephesians 6:17 callsthe Word of God the sword of the Spirit. It is our offensive weapon against thepowers of darkness.Building corporate prayer into the life of the local church requires commitment.Both the pastor and the people must be committed to the importance of corporateprayer. You will not see your church moving toward becoming a house of prayerunless the pastoral staff and the lay people share a common vision and a truecommitment to the importance of prayer.
- Unit ONE: PRAYING TOGETHERBuilding a house of prayer also requires opportunity. Opportunities for corporateprayer should be varied in styles and times so that all people can participate as theLord leads. No one model of prayer or single prayer opportunity will incorporatethe various needs of all the people. Variety is the key to engaging more peoplein corporate prayer. One way to enhance variety is to form prayer groups with aspecific purpose. No one prayer group can accommodate all the prayer needs of thefellowship. Instead, offering prayer groups that focus, for example, on praying forhealing, or interceding for the worship services, or covering the needs of familieswill increase participation and give people options for praying together.Expecting people to pray together also entails a significant amount of practice.Getting started in corporate prayer requires teaching that is both scripturally soundand practical. But experience is the best teacher. Helping people to be comfortablewith their beginning efforts of praying together is vital. Then building on thatfoundation will come with practice. Revitalizing an existing prayer group mayrequire breaking old patterns and strong teaching that enables everyone to makeparadigm shifts. Being willing to change and experiment with new models ofprayer comes as people understand and embrace the scriptural reasons for movingdeeper in prayer.Overcoming obstacles to corporate prayer includes getting past the fear of prayingout loud in a group. Helping people become comfortable praying in front of otherscan be an important task. Some people have been taught that all prayer is veryprivate. Even people who have been a part of church life for a long time may bereticent when asked to pray in a group.What helps can we offer? Begin to practice praying out loud when you are prayingby yourself. Get accustomed to hearing your own voice in prayer. This techniquewill also enhance your personal prayer life by enabling you to stay more focusedduring seasons of prayer.Helping people learn to pray the scriptures is also an important tool to overcome thehesitancy to pray out loud. Learning how to use the scriptures to give voice to yourprayers builds confidence that God hears and answers prayers.Often we can begin with sentence prayers when praying corporately. Using sentence
PATHWAYS TO A PRAYING CHURCH - 11starters like “God, I thank You for…”or “Father, I praise you because you are…”enables everyone in the prayer group to participate in a non-threatening exercise.Teach the importance of praying in agreement. Read, study and apply Matthew18:19-20.“Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth aboutanything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father inheaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name,I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)Remind the group members that they are listening to the other person’s prayer withthe intention of agreeing in prayer not judging the merits or eloquence of the prayer.Remind the group that the person praying is, first and foremost, talking to God andnot to the others in the group. Remember God is more interested in the sincerity ofthe heart than our eloquent words in prayer.Any attempt to become a house of corporate prayer must address the pitfalls ofkeeping a prayer group together. Getting started is easier than staying together as aprayer group. Be intentional about praying for perseverance in the group. Prayingtogether has a much different dynamic than praying individually. Agree on somebasic “ground rules” when a new prayer group is being established. For example,one person should not dominate the time of prayer; everyone’s contribution isimportant. The leader may have to hold others accountable to this agreement.Corporate prayer groups should have a leader. Agree together that one person willbe responsible to lead the group. This simple step will eliminate much confusionlater. The leader helps call the group to accountability and stay focused. The leaderalso helps validate everyone’s participation. Finding ways to allow everyone toparticipate freely brings greater diversity, healthy balance and corporate wisdom.That’s easier said than done. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and a desire to see thegroup persevere is vital. Agree on a time frame for the corporate prayer group.The leader should help the group start on time and end on time. This simple stepwill encourage people to return to the prayer group again and remain committed to
- Unit ONE: PRAYING TOGETHERcorporate prayer. The enemy will always work against believers coming togetherin unity to pray. Be intentional about praying for protection against the schemes ofthe enemy.Unity is a necessary element for the anointing of God in all aspects of life together.Therefore, corporate prayer must be unified prayer. But building and maintainingunity in the body of Christ is not always easy. The blessing and anointing of Godcomes “when kindred live together in unity… For there the LORDordained his blessing…” (Psalm 133:1-3)We should be honest with the need for unity in prayer and ask God to reveal anyhindrances to unity. If we make the anointing and blessing of God a priority as wepray, God will enable us to live and pray together honestly and openly in unity.We also need to be honest about things that can severely damage unity and hindercorporate prayer. Some participants may have been hurt by small groups in the pastwhere people were encouraged to share deeply and then confidentiality was notkept by all group members. Building trust and praying through some of these paststumbling blocks will help your prayer group grow. Your prayer group leader willneed much wisdom in this sensitive area.My own story of growing in corporate prayer begins with the gift of a prayerpartner. From those humble beginnings of sharing with one other person, I grewin my confidence in corporate prayer and began to understand the importance ofpraying together. My prayer partner and I saw God answer many prayer requestswhich vividly showed me the importance of this tool. My prayer partner often kepta journal of our times of prayer and we treasured the opportunity to record how Godwas working as we prayed together. Those early experiences changed my prayerlife. We can learn so much as others pray for us and with us.Corporate prayer was emphasized in my local church. Our pastor encouraged andhelped publicize strategic prayer for the worship services and intentional prayer forthe staff and ministry. I had the privilege of leading the corporate prayer times forthe worship services for many years. God led us to meet for one hour on Saturdaymornings. Each week we knew the bulletin outline and could saturate all aspects of
PATHWAYS TO A PRAYING CHURCH - 13the worship services in prayer. That targeted time of intercession for the worshipservices was one of the keys to the growth in worship and the anointing of the HolySpirit we experienced together.My local church also advocated home groups. These weekly meetings in homesencouraged studying and praying together. They were instrumental in helpingparticipants grow in their prayer lives both individually and corporately. Weexperimented with a variety of styles and models of prayer. We valued each person’sprayers and practiced praying in agreement. Looking back, I recognize that Godwas providing a wonderful seedbed for growth in the things of the Spirit. Corporatewords of wisdom and corporate prophetic words helped me to understand how thegifts of the Spirit were meant to operate in the body of Christ. God was revealing acorporate vision for the renewal of the church and we had the privilege of prayingand participating in an awesome work of the Lord.
- Unit ONE: PRAYING TOGETHERQuestions for personal reflection and group sharing:1. Are you walking in unity with others in the body of Christ? If not, how canyou start?2. Are you seeking a common vision for your church in prayer with others?What is that vision? Ask others to join you in seeking God’s vision for yourlocal church.3. Do the prayer groups in your church have a defined purpose? What is thatpurpose?4. Are you committed to praying with others in the body of Christ? How canyou demonstrate that commitment? What are some current prayer needs inyour fellowship that you’d like to pray about with others?Prayer activities1. Pray Matthew 18:19-20. Ask God to teach you to pray in agreement. Openyourselves up to hearing from the Lord about any hindrances to unity in yourgroup.2. Spend some time in quiet listening. Ask God to begin to reveal his purposeand plan for your prayer group.3. Use the small group Bible Study and Time of Sharing Activity.
PATHWAYS TO A PRAYING CHURCH - 15Small Group Bible Study and Sharing TimeUse this small group Bible study as an opportunity to assess where the membersof your group are in their experience of praying corporately. Search the scripturestogether to understand what the Bible says about the importance of praying together.Then seek the Lord together for personal applications for your prayer group. Seekto become a house of prayer.“My house shall be called a house of prayer”(Matthew 21:13)What is your experience with praying in a group?• As you feel comfortable, share your experience of praying together with others.• Did you have a mentor in the process of growing in corporate prayer?How did that experience help you?What does the Bible say about praying together? Use these selected scripturesand questions to guide your discussion.Read Matthew 18:18-20. “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree onearth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father inheaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am thereamong them.”Jesus teaches about the importance of praying in agreement.• Does your experience with group prayer follow this pattern? Why or why not?• What pitfalls or problems have you experienced to praying in agreement?
- Unit ONE: PRAYING TOGETHERRead Acts 1:14. “All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer,together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, aswell as his brothers.”The disciples all joined together in devoted prayer as they sought guidance.• What are some times or special occasions for the church to be in consistent,devoted prayer?• How do you seek and receive guidance from the Lord?Read Acts 4:23-31. “…they raised their voices together to God…now,Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak yourword with all boldness …when they had prayed, the place where theywere gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with theHoly Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.”The early believers prayed together when threatened with persecution.• Have you ever prayed for boldness to witness? Share the results.• Have you ever experienced the place where you were praying being“shaken”?• What else might occur besides physical shaking? Give some otherexamples of supernatural manifestations of the Lord.Read James 5:16. “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and prayfor one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteousis powerful and effective.”
PATHWAYS TO A PRAYING CHURCH - 17Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other was the instruction to thechurch when praying for healing.• Have you ever participated in a prayer group where confession of sin andpraying for one another was encouraged?• Describe how the leader facilitated this.• Share the result in healing of body, soul, spirit, or relationships.What personal application can you see from this study on the churchbecoming a house of prayer?
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