About three years ago, I was meditating on possible new opportunities for women in my local church. As the women’s ministry director, that’s part of my job, but more importantly, I strive to go to the Lord for direction and vision for the future not only as a leader, but as His ambassador. I want to be ready to learn from and follow my Master, ready to join Him in what He is doing, and ready to go where and to whom He sends me. As I prayed through possibilities, I included pleas that He would open my eyes to what I needed to grow in, as well as what the women in my church family needed to learn or live out. Prayer was the answer He impressed upon me.
It may seem redundant to pray for direction and get prayer as an answer, but that’s what happened. As I reflected on my own journey of becoming a woman who understands and pursues prayer, I recognized there had been a learning curve in my life. As I began to understand more of who God is and how I’m utterly dependent on Him, I prayed more. As I read and studied the Bible more, I realized praying what the Word says—actual verses in their context—means that I am praying in God’s will. And as I interacted with wise and godly women, I discovered that prayer was usually a significant part of their lives.
I went to one of those wise, godly women and told her what I’d been thinking. I told her I was looking for a way to encourage, grow, and build women up in prayer and was hoping she might have some ideas for me. But I was actually coming to her with an idea I hoped she’d affirm—I wanted to host a bi-weekly prayer time in my home for any woman willing to attend. A simple invitation come and pray.
Her response was thoughtful, intentional, and kind. She reminded me that we have regular opportunities within our Bible study classes and groups for women to share specific, personal prayer requests. She pointed out that an unstructured time of prayer might result in women spending more time sharing requests than actually praying. Finally, she brought to light that what we didn’t have were regular, structured prayer opportunities with a set focus, guided and supported by Scripture. I’m so thankful I didn’t barrel ahead with my original idea—the results of her wise counsel and support have impacted our ministry in amazing ways.
Implementing a Prayer Strategy
After that conversation, we began planning a prayer initiative for women that would give them tools and a challenge to pray on their own, as well as a plan to pray specifically and intentionally for each woman involved in our church. Here’s the basic formula for a prayer initiative like ours:
Choose a monthly focus.
Each month, we prepare a prayer focus based on an annual theme. These monthly prayer focuses give depth and detail to that theme. For each monthly prayer focus, we offer a main idea to pray about, an explanation of that focus, a prayer of commissioning, and related Scripture verses to pray through.The monthly prayer focus is emailed to every woman who attends our church or participates in our groups or Bible study classes. (Scroll to the end of this post for a sample!)
Develop a prayer team.
We have a team of “praying women” who pray, by name, for each of the 300 women involved at our church. Our team of twenty-two praying women are given lists of about fifteen names to pray for throughout the month. The praying woman may not even know each woman she is praying for, but she can still pray specifically and intentionally for each woman using the monthly prayer focus and related Scripture.
While each praying woman chooses exactly how she’ll pray for the women on her list, we suggest that she pray for one woman a day, so that each woman on her list is prayed fortwice during any given month.
Communication with the Father is the only requirement for our praying women. We do not ask them to contact the women they are praying for unless they already have a relationship with that woman. That way, we protect the privacy of each woman in our church family while praying for her in a very intentional way.
In our monthly prayer email, which is sent to those who are praying and being prayed for alike, we include a reminder that they’re being prayed for by name, and we invite them to join us in praying throughout the month, using the prayer focus and related Scripture. We often include a challenge for women to choose a neighbor, family member, or friend to pray for using the same focus.
Impacting Lives through a Prayer Strategy
We’ll never know with certainty the impact this prayer initiative has had in the lives of women and in the kingdom, but we've been blessed to glimpse at a few treasured highlights:
- Women have emailed, thanking us for the prayer focus.
- Women have specifically thanked us for including the Scripture, saying that knowing someone was praying Scripture over them was particularly impactful.
- Women have responded to the challenge to use the prayer focus to pray for someone else.
- Women have shared about specific answers to prayer or responses that have been prompted by our intentional prayer.
- Women who have not served anywhere else in our church—either by choice or by some limitation—have become part of our team of praying women.
- Women have been interacting with us more as a result of the prayer initiative—some who are involved in our women’s ministries and some who have never been a part of or responded to anything else we’ve done.
The Lord has been merciful to allow us to see His hand as well as some fruit.
While there is never a perfect or problem-free strategy for ministry, we have found this initiative to be fruitful. We’ve made adjustments when necessary and continue to ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment. I commend to you this or a similar strategy for focused, intentional, Word-focused prayer so that you and the women you serve are fueled to pray, formed by prayer, and ready to respond to God with surrendered and joyful hearts.
Editor’s note: Intrigued? Don’t forget to click here for a sample strategy and prayer focus on the theme of revival!