Prayer is intimate communication, not
a religious formula. Here are some strategies that will help you connect with
God in a powerful way.
God is calling His
people to communicate better with Him and for Him—to get in touch with Him in a
way that makes a difference. It is time
for the church to learn to pray adult, knowledgeable, well-informed,
intelligent, strategic, Scripture-based prayers that will help bring the supernatural
plans of God into earthly reality and destroy the works of the devil. Time has
run out for prayers that are based on selfish needs and that reflect culture,
custom and tradition.
In order to heed the
call, we must first make sure we understand the basic purpose for prayer and
how to effectively use it. Prayer is a supernatural tool created by God that
allows natural human beings to communicate with Him in the supernatural realm.
It was created for His purposes, not man’s purposes.
Pray is not ACTS
(adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication), nor is it a posture or
attitude. Though these elements are important for producing results, they are
simply components necessary for effective communication—not prayer itself.
Prayer is a
supernatural entity governed by its own set of principles. It is an invisible
reality. Like the wind, we are unable to see it, but we see the effects of it.
Without prayer it is impossible for human beings to transcend the natural realm
and impact the supernatural realm, where the kingdom of God and the kingdom of
Hundreds of books have
been written about prayer. I am not a scholar on the subject, yet neither am I
a novice. My approach to prayer is simple.
As I’ve studied various
aspects of prayer during the last 10 years, the Lord has revealed strategies
that have produced significant results and impacted thousands of people.
Employing these strategies has provided the necessary spiritual foundation to
build our Power Center—the multi-faceted complex that houses Windsor Village United
Methodist Church. We use two primary methods of prayer: praying God’s Word and
praying in tongues. Our method of supernatural communications is based on 1
John 5:14–15: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask
anything according to Him will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us,
whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him”
In this passage, God
promises to hear the prayers of the believer if the believer prays in
accordance with His will. What is the will of God? His will is His Word—the
Bible. God is legally bound to adhere to His own Word, but He is not obligated
to answer anything outside it.
Jeremiah 1:12 tells us
that God watches over His Word to perform it, and Isaiah 55:10–11 states that
God’s Word will not return to Him void but will accomplish what He has designed
it to accomplish and will “prosper in the thing for which [He] sent it.” God has created His Word to perform and
produce results, and it is His Word that He acts upon.
Furthermore, the Word
of God is food for life. Luke 4:4 tells us that “’man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word of God.’” Without God’s Word as a source for
nutrition, our spirits and souls become malnourished.
Building a Powerful Prayer
The spiritual maturity
of our church increased rapidly after my pastor-husband, Kirbyjon, and I began
to emphasize the importance of prayer. As the people grew and as God’s vision
for the church was being manifested in the natural, it became paramount for us
to operate supernaturally. We had to effectively address the increase so that
growth, both natural and spiritual, would continue. In order for the church to
operate as dictated by Jesus, we had to become skilled in both the natural and
the spiritual realms.
To address the
spiritual need, we created a special department at our church called the
Department of Supernatural Services and Communications (SSC). The purpose of
SSC is to teach people how to operate in the supernatural power and authority
of Jesus Christ.
and Communications provides services that minister to the individual and
empower the corporate membership to operate more fluidly in the supernatural.
Responsibilities include developing programs and systems that inform and
educate about the supernatural; interceding and ministering through prayer;
providing prayer counseling; coordinating church family fasts, prayer vigils
and corporate prayer events; and providing spiritual guidance.
SCC began more than nine
years ago as a small group of seven people who prayed regularly for the
corporate church. Through a methodical, systematic and patient process, the
steadfast efforts of a small group of people flourished into a movement of
You may not be responsible
for the prayer ministry at your church as I am for mine, but I believe the
principles we have learned can help you no matter what type of prayer effort
you may want to initiate or participate in. Based on our experiences during the
development process, I offer the following suggestions:
Seek the Lord’s
guidance about His plan for your prayer ministry. Ask Him to help you
determine the mission or objective of the prayer ministry; what should you
pray; how you should pray; who your target population is; and why you are
developing a prayer ministry. If your prayer ministry will be in any way
involved with your church, be sure to obtain a pastoral approval before
primary avenues for praying. God may give you a different direction than He
gave us, but after seeking the Lord and studying the Scriptures about prayer,
we decided that we would pray in two ways: pray the Scriptures and pray in
tongues. Since most Christians have not been taught how to pray Scriptures, we
began to slowly teach people how to search the Bible and find Scriptures that
applied to specific prayer petitions.
First, we encouraged
intercessors to read the Scriptures verbatim as their prayers. Next we taught
them to incorporate their prayer petitions into the Scriptures. We placed
intercessors in small groups and encouraged them to practice this technique
during corporate prayer. Most people had difficulty just praying in front of
During this time, we
found that many people did not have the biblical foundation to adequately pray,
so we gave the intercessors brief teachings about topics related to prayer
ranging from “How to Operate in the Holy Spirit” to “Knowing Who You Are in
Christ.” After three years of teaching and practicing, intercessors began to
pray with ease spiritually appropriate prayers.
Develop a prayer
strategy. Whatever you’re praying for, develop a specific approach to pray
for the need. We write most of our prayers, researching each prayer topic and
composing a prayer that is based on Scripture knowledge obtained about the
topic. We then incorporate our prayers into a prayer strategy that is
intentional and specific. We develop prayer strategies for all the various
ministry efforts and community development projects.
Develop a training
program. Continuing education is a key to praying effective, productive
prayers. Provide training that will help your ministry members to grow in their
walk with the Lord and their ability to communicate with Him.
Through the process of
developing a prayer ministry, you may learn, as we have, that most people are
told to pray but lack the adequate skills and tools to do it. In other words,
they do not learn how to pray on their Christian journey. Don’t assume they
know; teach them!
Hold prayer partners
accountable for living a holy life.
Require prayer partners to conduct their lifestyles in accordance with
biblical teaching. In other words, expect them to change habits, behaviors,
attitudes and anything else that is contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
For us, lifestyle is
critical. We do not want anything in the life of a prayer partner to hinder the
prayers that are offered to God on behalf of our church membership.
When a prayer partner
sins (and occasionally one does), we encourage him or her to repent quickly and
get help (profession counseling, if necessary) to make sure the sin is not
repeated. Our prayer partners will tell you that their lives have improved
greatly as a result of the required discipline.
Expect God to answer.
It is important that you collectively decide you will believe the entire Bible
and operate in accordance with its principles and instructions. For example,
since Mark 16:17–19 tells us that every believer should heal the sick and cast
out demons, it is important that you believe this and work to operate
accordingly. Remember, prayers without faith are useless. We have to pray
believing God will answer.
We are successful in
prayer because we expect God to hear our prayers and bring them to pass
(see 1 John 5:14–15). We operate in the power and authority that has been given
to us through Jesus Christ, and we fight valiantly against the works of the
Prayer is not a
glamorous ministry, and the results are not always immediately visible.
However, we have persisted in our efforts to systematically train people how to
pray, and we have remained steadfast in our intercession for the church. as a
result, we are seeing the fruits of our labor. Be consistent in praying and in
leading others to pray, and you will be amazed at what God will do.
Suzette Caldwell is
Associate Pastor of the 14,000-member Windsor Village United Methodist Church.
She is also the board chair and president of The
Prayer Institute, a nonprofit, community-based organization
that is committed to praying for people and
teaching people how to pray.