From Most Vulnerable to Most Valuable: Unleashing an Army of Indoor Intercessors
There is an enormous untapped prayer potential in the Church that is emerging into the spotlight in the midst of this season of Covid-19: “The elderly and those with pre-existing conditions or weak immune systems.” Of course, they have always been there, but now they know how “vulnerable” they are and how they are in the crosshairs of this virus.
There are millions of Christ-followers in this population who may be feeling lonely, marginalized and uncertain as to what they should or can do in this season. This is not just a Covid-19 phenomenon affecting “elderly”, those with weak immune systems or other health issues. It is also a very real issue for people who find themselves retired, widowed, taking care of parents, or in a different place in life than they expected. Many suffer due to inactivity or feelings of uselessness – even in your church…maybe one of them is you!
One extremely important point to bring up in this conversation is that the enemy of our souls, Satan himself, is targeting a generation of believers who have been on the frontlines of intercession, or who soon could be if trained and given the opportunity! They need prayer and to have the armor of God firmly in place in order to stand in this moment.
What if this large group of “most vulnerable” could be mobilized, trained and unleashed in the ministry of intercession and encouragement? Many of them already are, of course! If you think of the people in your church who are the “intercessors,” many of them are older. There is a depth of wisdom and power as they, like Anna and Simeon, have positioned themselves to pray with great expectation for revival, the lost, and for the needs of their church, community, nation and the nations of the world.
However, there are large numbers of believers who feel that their usefulness is over, or who find that they need a new purpose for their lives. Can you imagine what the power of prayer could do to energize, encourage and sustain people who want to be useful in this hour, but just don’t know what to do? Prayer is not a comfortable conversation for many of them, because they have never been trained to know how to have true intimacy with God, and to enter His throne room in passion-filled prayer. If ever there was a time to grow an army of intercessors, it’s now. Ephesians 4:16 says, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” This is definitely a time of need for the entire world.
Although this blog is focused on the “most vulnerable” population, it is vital to reach out and utilize similar principles with those who are not! Prayer is the intergenerational power house of God, fueled by those who will seek His face in intimacy, listen for His desires for His kingdom purposes and, who will, through the power of the Holy Spirit, pray for His kingdom to come, and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Mobilizing the Army:
Let’s start out by identifying some potential mobilizers:
- Pastors and church leaders: What might happen if you leveraged the prayer potential in your congregation? What would God be pleased to do in response to His people seeking Him on behalf of all He wants to do in your midst? In your ministry? For missions? For your community? For your nation and the ends of the earth? Who in your congregation could you connect with to encourage, mobilize and train to pray for your church and the mission of the church in this season? Could you begin an online prayer time regularly to train and encourage people of all ages to pray?
We held a weekly 30-minute prayer time on FaceTime Live for our church for 8 weeks at the beginning of Covid-19 after our church closed its building. The prayer meeting has continued monthly since. We have had more people show up online than had ever come to a corporate prayer gathering at the building. Our church family and others have been learning how to “pray now” by lifting up prayers with their fingers in the chat section. When someone has a prayer need, others literally gather around them and pray for them. We ask them not to just say they are praying, but to actually write a prayer for the people they are praying for. Those who wouldn’t normally pray out loud in a group have felt okay about stretching their prayer muscles by praying with their fingers! So many are being blessed and encouraged! People are stretching and growing in prayer.
Platforms such as Zoom can be used to train your church family to pray also! If people want to be seen they can, or they can join by audio only. Take advantage of this technology to train people how to pray for one another, for your churches, communities, nation and world!
- Prayer Warriors: If you are already a passionate intercessor, crying out as a watchman on the wall, what might you do to mobilize others to do the same? Perhaps you have been engaged in prayer on your own or with others, but have felt a bit displaced since you have been unable to meet with those you are used to gathering with for corporate or small group prayer…or even with a regular prayer partner. What could you do to change this situation?
- Retirement Villages, Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities: As we mentioned above, seniors are a largely untapped source of prayer power! Believers who live or work in these places can have a huge impact simply by praying for others and encouraging other residents to do the same. Pray for people in person or send notes with prayers written in them to other residents. Invite others to learn how they can pray for those living and working in their place of residence and then teach by example as well as provide help for those who struggle with prayer.
Some random thoughts and ideas:
Invite the already willing – it won’t take much to get those who already have a lifestyle of prayer and intercession to get on board with intentional prayer assignments. Pastors and church leaders should connect with them and share vision for interceding in this critical hour of history. They will readily agree! Engage them as your most valued allies in recruiting and training others to stand on the front lines! Encourage, value and communicate with them regularly! They are already praying for you, and for the church and beyond.
Ask these intercessors to help you recruit others, or at least give you names of those who might be willing to join the battle on their knees. These will likely be people who are already praying people but may not have connected with any kind of corporate expression of prayer in the past.
Can you imagine nursing homes and senior centers becoming houses of prayer? All it takes is one or two proactive seniors with a passion for Jesus and some encouragement and training to make this a reality. Consider how to unleash this untapped resource as you put names of intercessors on your list of those to contact. Let them know they are NEEDED.
Invite those on your newly acquired list of possibilities to join you and other intercessors to intercede, letting them know how valuable this ministry of prayer is to you, the church, and to the kingdom plans and purposes of God.
Encouragement and training:
Once you have some people interested in moving forward in the ministry of intercession, follow up right away. Don’t worry about numbers. Start with who you have and watch it grow as God begins to move in response to the prayers of His people crying out to Him. People are attracted to fires, and when the Holy Spirit engages with the most vulnerable, others will want to be a part.
Encourage them, offer solid training to help them move forward, and communicate well! Some of these people may never have considered themselves to be intercessors, even though every single believer is called to do so:
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).
Additional Ideas: Let’s look at a few things that can be done to mobilize, train and unleash this army of intercessors (even if they have never considered themselves an intercessor before) into the world-changing, kingdom-advancing purposes of God:
- Those who are outgoing and social might enjoy calling others and praying for them by phone.
- Some might enjoy writing notes of prayer-filled encouragement for those who express a need.
- Teach them to pray Scriptures over others, using the Word of God as their prayers.
- This is the Year of the Bible – encourage those who can to read the Bible out loud during this season and pray as they feel led.
- Pastors, encourage intercessors to pray over your sermon text and for you as you both prepare and preach!
- Realize that giving the ministry of prayer to seniors and health challenged people will give them a sense of value and worth. Having purpose is powerful.
These are just a few thoughts and ideas to train vulnerable people to be valuable intercessors for the Kingdom of God. Obviously in-person experiences are limited right now; however, you can effectively use email, Zoom, YouTube or Vimeo, or whatever platform you are using for your Sunday services if you have been online. Also, a phone call or snail mail works great too! Think outside the box using these ideas as a catalyst to enlist a powerful prayer force for God’s Kingdom!
Kim’s passion is to see God’s people recognize that prayer is a creative, continual moment by moment lifestyle as we align our hearts with the plans and purposes of God for His glory and the sake of His kingdom. Her ministry involves writing, teaching and consulting. She also compiles and edits HPM’s free daily devotional, Connection! and blogs regularly on the HPM website).
Kim graduated from Whitman College with teaching credentials and a BA in Psychology. She has a Masters degree in Spiritual Formation and Leadership from Spring Arbor University.