In 1997 men from across this nation came to Washington DC to participate in Promise Keeper's "Stand in the Gap." Estimates of the size of the crowd vary widely, but it's probably safe to say there were one million or more men in attendance. I was there that day along with my son who had recently moved to the area and three men from our church. It was an incredible experience as we spent the day listening to various speakers and praying for our nation.
The next morning the group we were with left the hotel on our rented bus and after driving a couple of hours stopped for breakfast. The three men from our church was sitting at a table with their food when I sat down. They said they wanted to talk with me.
After the event our son had taken me to their apartment where we had dinner. By the time I returned to the hotel room I shared with the three men from the church they were all asleep. Evidently, as they had returned from the Mall they began talking about the day's activities. During that discussion they realized they all had been thinking the same thing: they needed to have a regular time of prayer for me as their pastor. That next morning over breakfast they asked if I would be interested in meeting with them each Sunday evening before our service for a time of prayer just for me and my family. Of course, I was more than agreeable!
The following Sunday morning I announced that at 6:30 each Sunday evening there would be a time of prayer for me. my family, and the church. These men shared their conversation that led to this decision and invited anyone who wanted to participate to join us in a back Sunday school room. From that time forward, every Sunday evening 4-8 people would meet to pray. They would ask what prayer concerns I had and then each of them would begin to pray.
This had an incredible impact on me, my family, and our church. There were times the evening service began late as we spent extended times in prayer. There's not enough space in a post to describe the many ways this impacted my wife and me personally as well as the impact it had on the church.
John Maxwell often talks about the prayer team that surrounded him when he was a pastor and the impact it had on his life and ministry. I experienced the same impact, and I believe any pastor will as well when people begin to intentionally pray for him or her.
Do you have a Pastor's Prayer Team who meet with you regularly to simply pray for you and your family? If not, I would encourage you to develop one. Ask some of your prayer warriors if they would be part of that team. If you can only start with one person, begin there and let it grow naturally as people begin to understand its value to you and the church.
If you are a layperson in a church that does not have such a prayer team, begin to ask God if you should begin one. Talk to your pastor to determine his or her interest in meeting with a prayer team on a regular basis. My guess is your pastor will be as excited as I was to have a group of people meeting for the express purpose to pray.
Pastors are often under a lot of pressure today. They need the support and prayers of those they lead. Sometimes, their families need it even worse. A Pastor's Prayer Team can make a big difference in the lives of your pastor and his or her family. It can also make a difference in the life of your church.
If I ever returned to pastoral ministry, one of the first things I would do is start a Pastor's Prayer Team. I encourage you to do so as well.