An organizing catalyst starts the process. He or she envisions the need. The catalyst becomes the driving force, though they may not end up as the network leader. All must be willing to release the network to the Lord – it must be perceived as a call of the Holy Spirit to come together to see that the city is prayed for.
Around this catalyst will often develop a core group who share and support the vision, who will lend their credibility to the effort. The group may be as small as 2-3, or as large as a dozen. They become the conveners. They, with the catalyst, issue the call to gather to hear the story of what might be created for the good of the community.
VISION CASTING STAGE
Representatives of various prayer ministries in the identified geographic area are contacted. Vision is cast – informally. Congregations that have prayer ministry leaders are likewise envisioned. An effort is made to connect the divergent streams of the Bible-reading believers in the area so that when a formal envisioning meeting occurs, it is a constituting diversity that is genuinely representative of the community. The first of what may be several envisioning meetings occur – in different venues, after different sectors of the prayer leadership constituency.
THE CONSTITUTING COUNCIL
A date is set for the Constituting Council. This organizational meeting should be about vision. It may take place over the course of a full day. It should creatively tell the story of what is already happening in the community in terms of prayer efforts. In this case, it is a discovery fair, an educational experience designed to show the unseen but valiant prayer efforts by individuals, organizations and congregations. The day should be sprinkled with video segments, visuals, stories. All these variant pieces constitute the patch-work that knitted together have the potential to blanket the city in prayer.
It must be remembered that members of the prayer council are in their positions due to appointment by national prayer organizations, congregations and church agencies, or para-church entities.
The group may need several sessions beyond this initial council gathering in order to approve a working organizational document. Samples are provided, both simple and complex. Some groups may choose to work informally, at least for a season, without a formal organizational constitution or set of by-laws. In some cases, a small team may be appointed to bring back originating articles.
THE SERVANT LEADERSHIP TEAM
From the self-constituting representative council, a Servant Leadership Team is selected. The essence of this group is that they are endowed by the Constituting Council with a mandate to provide direction for the collaborative process.
The exercise of their authority is always bottom-up. It is not positional authority, as much as it is relational authority. It is not in the power of decree, but in collaboration. They function as the Officer Core, a Servant Leader Team for community prayer ministries.
This team consists of the Moderator who will serve as the key convening leader. An Executive Assistant or Vice-Moderator. A Recording Secretary-Treasurer. And three-seven members at large, selected to lead the community prayer process.
This group is endowed with executive planning power in behalf of the larger group and the community. Their role is to meet regularly (monthly) to encourage the community-wide prayer effort, to encourage collaboration and integration of efforts, to work to make each prayer effort a success.
Their role is to grow the movement, to serve as the core leadership team for the cabinet, a broader collection of key prayer team leaders throughout the community, and to provide a program and agenda for each community-wide prayer council gathering (three per year).
The Cabinet is composed of executive leaders of key prayer efforts in the community. The core of that group are representative leaders of national prayer efforts who serve that cause in the community, along with the prayer coordinators of local congregations critical to the community-wide prayer effort. The SLT may expand the Cabinet by appointing various committees or prayer leadership teams to focus on specific prayer concerns not addressed by representatives of national ministries or congregations. Unique community prayer efforts will certainly be created and need leadership.
A Strategic Planning Team might be formed to do the important work of envisioning a multi-year plan that engages the entire community in prayer. Additional committees may be formed to serve.
Advisors should be considered (3-5) – from the pastoral community, from the business community, and it should include trusted intercessors.
As the movement intensifies, it will be important to begin to identify community intercessory leaders. Many of these people are maintaining quiet but fervent altars of prayer for the city and its various congregations, for community and national concerns, for revival and great awakening. It is unlikely that they have ever been convened as a group – across the whole city, briefed and debriefed, directed and engaged to systematically pray for the city.
These intercessors should be gathered two-to-three times annually, apart from specific prayer events. Efforts should be considered and a construct created to partner intercessors in unified prayer efforts – with both the pain and promise of the city in mind. Various ‘circles of intercessors’ might adopt different causes for prayer. Key intercessory teams could be created for the Mayor, the University President, the Board of Education, the Hospital, the Zoning Board, the Chamber of Commerce, Judges and the Courts (examples). The goal is a mounting, intentional and intensifying effort of prayer. Prayer walls and chains of intercessors from congregations throughout the city might be considered.
Prayer efforts and events, pastors and prayer leaders, need prayer as well.
PRAYER ACTION TEAMS
As assessments are made, it will at first be clear – much prayer is occurring in the city at times, in ways, at places about which many, if not most, were previously unaware. There will be cause of joy.
Further assessment will reveal seasons at which little prayer goes forth, places in desperate need of prayer, gaps in the prayer wall.
Some communities may not even celebrate the National Day of Prayer. Many will be unaware of Moms in Touch or SYATP, or a number of other national initiatives. As the Cabinet considers the needs of the community, it may look for leaders to offer themselves to national organizations to lead these various unsponsored causes.
In addition, other prayer efforts that have no present national counterpart will emerge. These Prayer Action Teams will lead efforts to transform periodic prayer events into a 365-24-7 prayer process.
The Leaders of these teams may be invited to sit as members of the expanded cabinet, with the Servant Leader Team.
A PRAYED-FOR CITY
The goal is a Great Awakening, spiritual and righteous influence in the community and the stimulus is prayer.
Imagine – intercessors identified in every neighborhood, and partnered. Imagine praying believers in every vocational tribe in the city, envisioned and enlisted to pray for spiritual awakening among their vocational peers. Imagine prayer focus groups – for gangs, for crime-prone areas, for places of light and darkness, for every school, for every radio and television station – and more. Imagine systematic prayer walks and missions. Imagine prayer ambassador teams that interface with city and community leaders, giving the gift of prayer. Imagine every house, every family prayed for my name. Imagine prayer stations throughout the city offering the gift of gentle prayer.
Imagine a city that is prayed for, and cared for (loved), and engaged with the gospel.
Imagine a great awakening!