Prayer: Interceding for others

In the last two blogs, I focused on church-wide prayer and individual prayer. Yet, don’t forget the need to intercede for others. Paul the apostle was constantly asking for others to pray for him:

In Colossians 4:3-4, he says, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” This is not the only time Paul asks for prayer. In I Thessalonians 5:25, Paul says, “Brothers, pray for us.” In Romans 15:30, Pauls says, Now I be you, brothers, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive with me in your prayers to God for me.” Again in 2 Corinthians 1:11 Paul says, You also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.” Then again in Philippians 1:19, Pauls says, For I know that this will turn out for my salvation through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Finally in Philemon 22 he says, “I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.”

Praying for others is essential. Of the many factors studied in my survey of 700 cell leaders in eight countries, the one with the greatest effect on whether a cell multiplies is how much time the cell leader spends praying for the cell members. This case study proves that daily prayer by the cell leader for the members is essential for a healthy, growing group. The survey asked cell leaders how much time they spend praying for the members of their group. The responses: Sixty-four percent pray daily for their cell, 16 percent every other day, 11 percent once a week, and 9 percent “sometimes.” Comparing these answers with the data on cell multiplication confirms that cell leaders who pray daily for their members are far more likely to multiply cells than those who pray for them only once in a while.

Praying daily for cell members transforms your relationship with them. God uses prayer to change your heart toward the people for whom you are interceding. A oneness develops through the bonding power that prayer creates. Paul writes: “For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is” (Colossians 2:5). This verse seems to indicate that it’s possible to be present “in spirit” with someone through prayer. Prayer opens our hearts to others and enables us to touch people at a deeper level.

Regularly praying for someone can mend your broken relationship with that person. Through prayer, the healing balm of the Holy Spirit often breaks the strongholds of bitterness and unforgiveness. Prayer changes cells. Those cell leaders who pray daily for each member of the group are more effective in cell ministry.

When you speak with your cell members, tell them, “I’m praying daily for you.” It develops an immediate bond with that person. In Prayer Shield, C. Peter Wagner details the necessity of intercessory prayer for Christian leaders, as well as how to recruit it. Frankly, this book should be mandatory reading for everyone in cell leadership. Every level of church leadership needs to develop a prayer shield and also form part of someone else’s prayer shield. Practically, this means that cell leaders pray daily for each person in their cell group. Section leaders pray daily for each cell leader in their section. Zone pastors pray daily for their section leaders; district pastors pray daily for their zone pastors. Finally, the senior pastor prays daily for the district pastors.
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Joel

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