HOW TO RUN A PRAY AND PLAN TEAM
- by Colonel Richard Sandy
WHY PRAY & PLAN?
The OCU evolved from the Army & Navy Prayer Union. Prayer is therefore
at the core of the OCU's existence. Prayer should of course be the
basis for our whole lives not just OCU activities. Having prayed,
we are required to plan and carry out His will. It was after seeing
this in the Scripture that General Sir Robert Ewbank introduced Praying
& Planning as a concept into the OCU. If we say we are Christians,
if we say we wish to please our Lord and to do His will then we need
to find out His will. We learn this by praying (Col. 1:9,10).
When God indicates a special need to us either as individuals or as
a group, and we are required to organise some special work for Him
- then we need to find out how He wants us to do it. At the basis
of all this is communication with God - Prayer.
The disciples were at a loss after the feeding of the 5000. In the
passage in John 6:28-37, which I believe is the basis of Pray & Plan,
when the disciples asked "What must we do, to be doing the works
of God?" Jesus told them they must come to Him and He would give
them "Bread" - those who go to Him "will never hunger" . We,
therefore, need to go to Jesus.
Again, when the disciples were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias (John
21:1-6) they had been trying all day to catch some fish. It wasn't
until Jesus came and told them when and where to cast their net that
they caught something - and then the net was full to bursting.
Uniting to Pray
After Jesus had ascended into Heaven you will notice that the disciples
frequently united in prayer - and what an effect it had on their ministry! We
have the following list from Acts as examples which bear out the effectiveness
of united prayer (Acts 1:12-14, 2:1-4, 6:1-7, and 13:2,3). Although
"the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects"
(James 5:16), we can see that it is more effective if two or more
unite in prayer ( " .. where 2 or 3 are gathered together ..."
Praying & Planning
Before forming a Pray & Plan team there must be a clear need or area
of concern that God has indicated to a group. Once this has been
made clear, and it might be a new programme, an Open Meeting or whatever,
the activity must be prayed for and planned by the OCU group concerned. God
expects us to use all our resources to ensure that each activity we
are running for Him is organised to the best of our ability. He does
not expect us merely to pray and then suppose that everything else
will happen by divine intervention. The Pray & Plan team form the
central planning committee, and supporting groups need to be enlisted
to give as wide prayer support as possible. In practice, this means
notifying the OCU office and Associate prayer groups of the Pray &
Plan team's objectives. For a major project (eg. International OCU
conferences, etc.) it may be desirable to set up subordinate Pray
& Plan teams to work on certain limited aspects. This too is a good
means of training Pray & Plan team leaders.
FORMING A PRAY & PLAN TEAM
The Team Leader
Now the Pray & Plan team itself. It is a team because the members
are united in Jesus working towards a common goal. As with all teams
there must be a leader. Because it is a Pray & Plan team, the leader
is not necessarily the one who prays the "best" prayers, nor is he
necessarily the senior Christian. He must, however, be a mature Christian,
a capable organiser, and readily accepted as the leader. He is the
one who is required to superintend the translation from prayer to
workable plan; he should therefore be a person who has a gift for
Size of the Team
The size of a Pray & Plan team depends on a variety of things - the
size of the undertaking, the availablilty of team members, etc. All
that can be said is that the minimum number is 2 and the team should
be kept fairly small. For most local OCU activities I would suggest
a team of 4 or 5; but for a bigger project it could be as many as
There are no special qualifications for the other members of a Pray
& Plan team, other than that they must be Christians willing to share
in open, extempore prayer. They should be willing to be available
to the Team Leader at all times when required during the preparatory
Having formed a team, the first priority is for all the team members
to prepare themselves for the task of praying and planning. This
is particularly important because if the Pray & Plan team are shaky,
so too will be the final plan. Prayer as we have seen is communication
with God and should be a prompting of the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:26,27)
"for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself
intercedes for us ..." The members of the team must therefore be
receptive to the Holy Spirit and have a clear conscience before God. The
team members should read and satisfy the requirements of Rom.12:1-8
"... to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable
to God, which is your spiritual worship ..." and should do this
before each Pray & Plan meeting.
Frequency of Meeting
How often the Pray & Plan team meets is the responsibility of the
team leader. He must call additional meetings whenever they are required. He
should "know" if sufficient prayer time has been given to each subject.
I would suggest that the frequency of meeting be increased the nearer
one approaches the date of the activity. It should continue up to
the moment of the meeting/event and then after the meeting/ event
especially for Praise, Thanks and Follow Up and evaluation of lessons
PRAYER and PRAISE
The essential start point for a Pray and Plan is prayer and praise
and I will therefore give a few notes on this subject.
A Pray and Plan meeting should be held in a quiet, private place not
liable to interruption. It needs to be isolated from sights and noises
going on around outside the room.
I have already mentioned that the team members need to prepare themselves
before praying and planning. Those praying should make themselves
comfortable. Those who prefer, or are accustomed, to kneel rather
than sit should be able to do so without embarrassment. In most groups
the majority of people prefer to sit in their chairs and bow their
heads to pray.
It is often helpful to start the Pray and Plan with a reading from
God's Word, for example a Psalm (e.g. Psalm 63) and to spend the first
few minutes in Praise and Worship. The object of this time is to
satisfy the instruction of 2 Cor.10:5 "... and take every thought
captive to obey Christ".
The team leader should then mention the subjects for which prayer
is needed and explain a bit of background where necessary. I would
suggest that he mentions a few subjects at a time rather than single
points or a long list.
The team leader should encourage members to keep their prayers brief. They
should also restrict each prayer to one topic - remembering that God
may be speaking to another member of the team and laying a particular
topic upon his heart.
When a member is praying the remainder should be echoing the prayer
in their hearts. It is sometimes a temptation when one person is
praying to be busy thinking about the next prayer - in doing this
the effectiveness of the prayer group is reduced.
The team leader should discourage the setting of a pattern when praying,
such as praying round in a circle.
There may be some members of the team who are not used to praying
openly and may feel nervous about it. Such people should be referred
to Acts 1:14,15 which tells of the disciples gathering in an upper
room in Jerusalem after Jesus' Ascension. We read that they prayed
together - but there were 120 of them in the room and it would seem
unlikely that all 120 prayed aloud.
Some people are put off when someone else prays for the same thing
before them. There is no harm in praying more than once for something
if you feel it is laid on your heart. When Jesus' heart was burdened
in Gethsemane "again He went away and prayed, using the same words" .
The Prayer time should be closed by the Team Leader in an obvious
way so that the other members are not left wondering whether it has
finished or not. I suggest this is best done by either asking everyone
to join in saying the Grace or perhaps by reading a passage, such
as Eph.3:20,21. Finally, I would add that whereas prayer cannot be
organised a Prayer Meeting can (1Cor.14:40 "Let all things be done
decently and in order" ).
Too often, regrettably, our praying and planning is limited by our
lack of faith. We should be praying with confidence (Eph.3:12) -
there should be no "...if it be Thy will ..." prayers, other than
those in the spirit of Matt.26:39. We are claiming the promise of
1 John 5:14,15 - "and this is the confidence which we have in Him,
that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us".
The key to our confidence in prayer is faith. Faith is the wire that
carries the current of His power into our lives. The Power is always
available; it is the wire which is often twisted, broken or providing
resistance. The remedy for increasing our faith is available to us
and the key is given in Rom.10:17 - "So faith comes from what is
heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" . We
should continually feed our faith with the Word of God.
DISCERNING THE PLAN
How does the Lord actually reveal His plan to the team? In our experience
a Pray and Plan should not be dominated by any one member, but rather
should be a homogenous group of expectant Christians listening for
the Lord's leading. If all have taken a full part in the time of prayer,
praise and meditation there should not be an inclination by anyone
to try to dominate proceedings. When there is no agreement on an issue
the group should turn to specific prayer and then try again to discern
by discussion what the Lord is saying. In our experience, after such
a time of renewed prayer, one of the members may say, "I wonder if
the Lord is telling us ....." and immediately all will sense that
it is indeed the Lord's proposal. The characteristic of a Pray and
Plan should be concensus but sometimes when seeking to undertake a
new initiative a group will have to meet three or four times before
the Lord will reveal the fundamental issue, such as the essential
aim of the undertaking from which all else depends. Just this happened
when a Pray and Plan team was assembled in the MOD to consider a programme
of OCU activity in London. The team met three times without being
confident that they had discerned the Lord's leading. On the fourth
occasion the excited group quickly came to a plan which included among
its initiatives the organising of an annual carol service in the nearby
Guards Chapel to include an evangelical address; sixteen years later
this event still attracts a vast and enthusiastic congregation every
mid December. The Lord can as easily reveal detail to a Pray and Plan
team as He can principles. There are countless examples of the Lord's
leading a team to derive meticulously crafted programmes for international
conferences, etc. In short, the Lord can reveal His perfect plan to
any group of believing Christians if they are willing to offer heartfelt
prayer and praise and then to enter into expectant, dependent planning.
As the team begins to plan it must ask:
- What is God's Purpose?
Before deciding on an aim or object for an OCU activity, it must be
clearly seen what is God's particular area of concern or purpose in
the OCU group's area. Is it outreach and evangelism, is it deeper
spiritual teaching, is it a need to unite the local Christian group
or what? Until God's purpose is revealed, an aim or objective cannot
effectively be stated. The team should not be afraid to pause either
for further prayer, for silent reflection or for listening to the
Lord if His purpose is not readily apparent after some discussion. Having
determined the need, this in turn will determine the object of the
OCU group activity and will in turn help to determine the format of
the activity, whether it be a meeting, a programme of Bible Studies,
- What are the factors?
The Pray & Plan team must try to assess all the factors that are likely
to affect the planning of the activity; for example the audience to
be reached, the facilities, speakers, location, food, finance, etc. This
is the largest area of concern for the Pray & Plan team and the team
leader should make a note of all the factors when they arise in prayer
and discussion. Each factor should be weighed as the team considers
the options deduced from the factors and the recommended course to
By this stage an outline plan should be emerging and there should
be a clear concensus (if not, more prayer is needed). It should then
be committed in prayer and recorded, subsequently to be reproduced
in the minutes of the meeting. this is important because Satan will
continually seek to undermine the team's confidence; they will need
to be reminded that the plan now has scriptural significance (see
Matthew 18 verse 9). The record of the plan should also be issued
in the form of minutes as soon as possible so that coherent work may
proceed before the next meeting of the Pray & Plan team.
PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING
The Pray & Plan team should close each meeting with a time of praise
and thanksgiving that the Lord has given the team His wisdom and discernment.
After the event has taken place the Pray & Plan team should meet to
praise and thank the Lord and to evaluate results. It should also
plan follow-up action if this has not already been considered in earlier
There is no undertaking which is beyond a properly prepared Pray &
Plan team - only a lack of faith will limit the full potential of
the Holy Spirit at work:
"if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed you will say to this
mountain, `move hence to yonder place and it will move'; and nothing
will be impossible to you"
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