When God began to speak to my heart about building a prayer base for the ministry opportunities he has been sending my way, I decided to use e-mail to build my prayer base. As a result, I have seen the Holy Spirit move in my life and ministry in unprecedented ways.
I have seen more people come to Christ this year in my ministry than ever before.
I have seen hard hearts in some students that I was speaking to break into a thousand pieces right before my eyes.
I have seen 70-year-old people, who have never read the Bible, respond to the challenge to read the Bible on a daily basis.
I have seen frustrated, tired and discouraged volunteers leave training workshops encouraged and equipped to function effectively in the church.
I have even seen God physically heal people via the prayers of my cyber prayer team.
And I want to be quick to point out that, thanks to my cyber prayer warriors, I have never had more people praying for me than I did this year.
I honestly believe that everything I have mentioned is the direct result of my cyber prayer partners going to the throne of God on my behalf. It is no coincidence that this last year has been so spiritually fruitful.
It is absolutely critical that we get our prayer lives in order and that we get other people praying for us and for those we teach.
3 steps to enlist prayer warriors for your cyber prayer team
1. Share your vision for building a cyber prayer base with all of the Christian friends you know and have contact with via e-mail. When I started, I sent out a short e-mail to all of my Christian friends explaining my need for a prayer base. I took a no-guilt approach, i.e., "I still love you and want to keep in touch with you even if you dont sign up to pray for me."
My goal was to find the people who wanted to pray for me-and I knew God had a handful or more out there. I asked those who were interested in being on my cyber prayer team to send a quick message back. To my amazement, I got more than 20 responses from all over the world.
2. In the initial e-mail, explain exactly what you desire your prayer team to do. I wanted and needed people who would actually pray-not just say they would pray and forget. To make it easy on my prayer warriors, I asked them to pray IMMEDIATELY after they finished reading my request. I wanted them to give me a few seconds of prayer while my request was still hot on their computer screens. I figured that if I could get 20-50 people praying for me and my ministry activities-even for a few seconds-that would have a huge impact-and it would not be asking too much from my prayer warriors. The only other time I asked my prayer warriors to pray for me was if the Holy Spirit brought me to their minds.
3. Finally, in the initial e-mail, offer to return the favor. To be fair, I promised anyone who joined my prayer team that if they would send their requests to me via e-mail, I would pray for them the moment I read it on my screen. Frankly, I want to pray for anyone who loves me enough to pray for me. And it has turned out to be a tremendous blessing for me to pray for the needs of my cyber prayer team.
5 guidelines for keeping up the team
In order to activate your cyber prayer team and communicate effectively, I encourage you to follow these five guidelines:
1. Send prayer requests regularly. It can be weekly, biweekly, or monthly-just make it regular. Since I have been busy on weekends with a plethora of ministry activities, I usually send out a weekly prayer report/request. I like sending it to my prayer team on Wednesday or Thursday because I need prayer before the weekend of ministry.
2. Make your requests brief and specific. This is absolutely critical. Be pithy with your requests. Because people have limited time, it only shows a respect for their time when you send them concise requests.
3. Thank them for praying and partnering with you.
4. Once in a while, ask your prayer team to send you a quick note back after they have prayed for you. This will give you an idea of who is really praying for you. Believe me, there is nothing like getting 20-50 short responses back saying something simple but powerful like, "Prayed for your ministry this weekend." It has brought me to tears on several occasions. And I must confess that I am a different kind of teacher/speaker/trainer when I know 20-50 people have prayed for me. Some of my prayer partners actually write out their short prayers for me and send them to me (just like the Apostle Paul). This, too, has really blessed me-so I have tried to do it for others.
5. Give feedback about how God answered their prayers. It is so encouraging to see God heal someone after you have prayed for them, or to hear about someone trusting Christ as Savior after you prayed specifically for it to happen. Send your cyber prayer team a brief report on what you asked them to pray about the previous week. I usually include this at the beginning of my prayer requests for the coming week. That is, I tell them how God was at work in my life and ministry as a result of their prayers last week. Then I ask them to pray for me and the ministry activities I will be involved in for the coming week.
6. Rebuild your cyber prayer team
A couple times a year, rebuild your cyber prayer team from scratch. Follow steps 1-3 from the above section on enlisting prayer warriors. Again, this lets people off the team without guilt. (In my opinion, guilt is the worst way to motivate anyone to do anything.)
God may want to rearrange the makeup of your team-so let him do it. Also, by rebuilding your team a couple of times a year, it allows old partners to re-enlist and recommit to your prayer team, and new people to join. Finally, it is also a good opportunity for everyone to review the processes you have asked them to commit to. The last thing you want is for people to sign up for your team-but then not pray for you.
3 technical hints
1. Create a group list.
When you gather a list of people who are willing to join your cyber prayer team, put them into a group (a list of people) on your e-mail software address book. Since I have put the e-mail addresses of all of the folks on my prayer team in that list/group, all I have to do is click on that one name (i.e., "Cyber Prayer Team")-and when I send a request or report-it goes to all of the people on that list.
2. Use bcc.
Before you send out your prayer request/report, use the "bcc" or blind carbon copy feature. Using the bcc feature will make your request/report easier to negotiate because your message will not have a lengthy list of addresses at the beginning. It also keeps the names of your prayer partners and their e-mail addresses private.
3. Spell check. For crying out loud people, use spell check! (Sorry, that is the English teacher coming out in me.)
As a result of my cyber prayer team, my time in front of the computer has become a time of prayer-praying to God for my friends requests. It has brought me closer to God and my prayer warrior friends because we have seen God go to work in our lives and ministries. And I have been absolutely amazed at how God has transformed my life and the lives of those I minister to through the prayers of my cyber network. I shudder to think that I used to preach, speak, teach and train without this base of prayer warriors.