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Evangelistic prayer ministry can energize churches, he says

ONTARIO, Calif. (BP)–A comprehensive prayer strategy might be more ideal than reality for many churches pressured with competing ministries. But it can yield powerful results in the lives of individuals, the church as a whole and the cause of Christ globally, a California prayer evangelism leader said.

Randy McWhorter, director of evangelism for the California Southern Baptist Convention, shared details of a model “Great Commission Prayer Ministry” during the Connection 2002 conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board April 10-13 in Ontario, Calif.

“We can almost capture what God’s up to by the volume of prayer that his people are doing,” McWhorter said during one of the conference’s small-group workshops. “When there is a greater emphasis on prayer, a great desire for prayer among God’s people, God’s action is not far behind.”

While many church prayer ministries are often confined to individual prayer and an intercessory prayer service on Wednesday, McWhorter said, churches can begin to see real results when they begin focusing prayer also on spiritual growth among themselves and on reaching people with the gospel.

“Ultimately the most important thing is that as many people as possible make it into heaven,” he said. “We have this small window called life to prepare for all of eternity. And we ought to be praying that God would give us the strength, the wisdom and the courage [to witness], and that God would be preparing the hearts of those who need to hear the gospel.”

The Great Commission Prayer Ministry model has three main components, McWhorter said. On a personal level, the church needs to encourage and equip every member to have an effective and vibrant prayer life — thus ensuring their own hearts are right before God.

“As we are connected with the vine, the heartbeat of God flows through us,” McWhorter said, referring to the familiar teaching of Christ in John 15. “The closer we are to God the more we’re producing fruit.”

On the second level, regular corporate evangelistic prayer efforts and special prayer events could harness the power of prayer in the community. Prayer journeys through neighborhoods and other areas are especially effective not only in lifting up individual families to God but also in awakening participants to the excitement of prayer.

“Being in a constant attitude of prayer — and realizing that I don’t have to be in a room on my knees and that I can pray with excitement — has brought a whole new dimension into my prayer life,” McWhorter said. “And biblical prayer is contagious.”

The third component involves “the kingdom,” the needs that do not directly involve the individual or the local church. Participating in the National Day of Prayer, See You at the Pole, community prayer groups and worldwide prayer emphases are just a few examples.

Getting such a ministry up and running often begins with enlisting one individual with a heart for evangelistic, McWhorter said. A Great Commission Prayer Council also can help set the direction and serve as a conduit for working with other church leaders.

From that point, strategies can be developed from the wealth of resources available for both training prayer warriors and providing detailed information that can guide focused, specific prayers.

“No great movement of God occurs until first of all the people of God are mobilized in extraordinary prayer,” McWhorter said. “Always before a great movement of God there occurs a great movement of prayer among God’s people.”

The Ontario conference was the first of three Connection events being sponsored this spring by the North American Mission Board, with others scheduled for Baltimore, Md., and Atlanta, Ga., in May.
Further details and resources for implementing a Great Commission Prayer Ministry are available at www.namb.net/prayer. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: RANDY McWHORTER.

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  • James Dotson