Going to people on behalf of God — the essence of ministry — is important … but so is going to God on behalf of people!
At the heart of ministry, we go to people on God’s behalf. We invite people to help us accomplish the stuff God has called them to accomplish. We communicate our God-given vision to people, helping them grasp the potential of that vision and become involved in making it actually happen.
All well and good. But going to people on behalf of God isn’t the only important thing. It’s also important to go to God on behalf of people — and in our ministries, we may actually forget or ignore this component. Yes, the apostle Paul in his work for the Lord said “Help me” to his Christian friends; but he also, in his work for people, said “Help them” to God.
Am I praying for my ministry family — the financial supporters, the volunteers, the staff members, the leaders — the “family” God has divinely pulled together to accomplish the work of this ministry during this season? Certainly I’m inclined to ask God to draw my donors, for example, closer to the heart of my ministry … but am I also pleading with him to draw those same people closer to him? Am I praying not only for volunteers to be faithful to the cause, but to be richly and abundantly blessed by a growing presence of God’s Spirit in their lives?
For decades the Christian development agency BBS & Associates (formerly Berkey Brendel Sheline) has recommended to ministries that their staff pray regularly, specifically, and fervently for the ministry’s donors. This is as much an exercise in spiritual growth for the staff as it is a benefit to the donors. It’s said that “prayer changes things,” and indeed this is true: It changes both the one being prayed for, and the one doing the praying! (James 5:16 says, “Pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Who’s the “you”?)
Prayer for members of our ministry “family” should be so much a part of the fabric of our organization that it’s even comfortable letting people know they’re being prayed for. Dropping a note to a donor or volunteer that says, in essence, “We prayed for you today” can be a real source of encouragement, even inspiration.
(If I find myself recoiling a bit from the notion of sharing that kind of information — if it feels like it might be misconstrued as manipulative — perhaps my ministry isn’t as prayerful, as prayer-intense, as prayer-rich as it needs to be. The message “I prayed for you” coming from a ministry truly bathed in prayer will feel completely authentic … because it is.)
I need to pray for people … not only for their sake, but for the sake of what God will do in me.
My Prayer for the Next Seven Days… Lord, remind me to pray for those who make my ministry possible: financial supporters, volunteer workers, staff members, leaders and others. Give me a heart that cares more deeply about them than about their contribution to the work you’ve called me to do! Amen.
2 Corinthians 1:10-11
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.