One of the things I love about my smartwatch is that it buzzes on my wrist when I receive certain notifications. One of the things I dislike about my smartwatch is when notifications go off at the wrong time.
For instance, I have an app where my Lifeway training team goes and shares prayer requests. Over the past year, it has given us a common place to share concerns with each other and to know when we need to pray at a moment’s notice. But I can’t seem to figure out how to turn off the notifications. So, it never fails that my watch starts going crazy and buzzing at inopportune times. I feel the vibration on my wrist over and over and as I glance to see what is happening, I realize prayer requests are coming to our group. This often happens when I’m in the middle of teaching a group of women or buckled down trying to finish a work assignment.
And even when I start feeling the vibrations on my wrist, I realize this simple tool of sharing prayer requests has given us a way to reach out when prayer is needed. It has built a bond among our team, and it reminds us we aren’t alone when prayer is needed.
As a leader, praying for your ministry team should be a priority. One of my favorite chapters in Scripture has to be John 17. His High Priestly Prayer gives all of us an example of why we need to pray for our team, how we pray for our team, and what to pray for our team. Here are some things we can learn from the way Jesus prayed for His disciples and for us.
One, Jesus prayed for the protection of His followers in verse 11. He knows His followers live in a broken world and will face spiritual warfare, persecution, and trials. You, too, should pray for your ministry team’s protection from the world. As they face difficulties, prayer is the tool that not only helps them face their circumstances, but it also creates a bond of compassion and empathy toward one another.
Second, Jesus prayed His disciples would grow in the truth of God’s Word. Verse 17 says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” How are you praying for the spiritual needs of your ministry team? Are you praying they grow in their walk with the Lord by spending time with Him? Are you challenging them to be in God’s Word and for it to dwell deeply in their hearts and minds? When was the last time you asked your team about their journeys with God? As your team grows in the Word individually, they will, in turn, be iron sharpening iron as a group.
Third, Jesus focused His attention on unity and oneness in purpose. Verse 21 says, “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.” This part of Jesus’s prayer wasn’t only for the disciples during His earthly ministry. This part of His prayer was for all of us. So how are you praying for unity among your team? When your ministry team displays unity, their purpose of sharing the gospel is displayed to an unbelieving world that needs Jesus. It is not a call to uniformity, but a spirit of love that says, “We are better together.”
If you’re looking for some practical ways you can begin praying for your team, consider these suggestions.
- Pray in the moment and when needs arise. Encourage your team to share requests either through an app or by a group text message. Yesterday, one of my ministry team members needed prayer for her husband who had been hit by a car while riding his bike. I’m thankful she reached out to our team so we could begin praying immediately for him.
- Keep a journal of requests so you can see God’s hand at work. I don’t always write down every prayer request that comes my way, but I do keep a journal of ongoing needs that are personal as well as those for my team. I’m praying long-term prayers of wisdom, spiritual growth, and for the Lord to show favor to our team. Each year, I can go back and see how prayers were answered, how God showed Himself to each of us, and how we can trust in His character.
- Pray together as a group. Something powerful happens when teams come together and pray out loud. We hear the prayers of our sisters, and we can join together to call out to the only One who can hear and answer. He is present in your team meetings, as you serve together, and as you pray together. Matthew 18:20 reminds us, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.”
- Put your team in prayer groups or with a prayer partner. There are times when having a smaller group praying for you is beneficial. There may be needs that are difficult to share as a group or too painful to reveal to the entire team. Construct ways your team can pray in a smaller group or with another woman. It will provide a place of confidentiality and intimacy with one another.
Yes, sometimes I’m ready for the vibrating of my watch to stop while I’m in the middle of something else. But the reality is I’m thankful for the constant buzzing on my wrist. It causes me to stop, be aware of the needs facing my team, and take it to the Lord immediately. I’ll take that kind of distraction any day.
Kelly is the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for Lifeway Christian Resources. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide to Leading Women in the Local Church and contributor to the Lifeway Women’s Bible, as well as the Lifeway Women Advent and Easter studies. In addition, she is the cohost of the MARKED podcast for Lifeway Women. She has a Master of Theology degree from Gateway Seminary and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Ministry degree.