Feb. 9-12, 2018, gathered this time at Park Avenue Retreat Center, Titusville, FL USA
Our Vision: Prayer is the indispensable key to the unfinished task. Every movement of Christ is founded on extraordinary prayer. We encourage every disciple to seek God for their “metron” or assignment from the Lord—their “field”, their “vineyard”. God is calling every leader to model and assist others in cultivating a conversational relationship with God both individually and corporately, which is prayer. God can speak to us corporately what He cannot speak to any single individual. As every disciple learns to abide in this position of intimacy, God changes us in His Presence to be change agents in the world. He downloads to us His strategies and then empowers us to join Him and others in executing them. We listen, then obey. This abiding results in fruitfulness for His glory and put us in position to exercise His authority to ignite movements to Christ among our neighbors and the nations. Isaiah 60 speaks of the call to “arise, shine, for our Light has come” and “darkness, deep darkness being over the peoples”—it is the season of the both/and the more of Ephesians 3:20. We must labor as they did in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem alongside Nehemiah and labor with our tool in one hand and our sword in the other. Surely this is the kairos moment to press forward into the ripe harvest fields with urgency. Our Bridegroom is coming for a Bride with whom He is equally yoked. He is inviting us to come up higher and prepare ourselves and His Kingdom for His soon return. His heart is that none should perish; we are committed to seeing that His heart’s desire is fulfilled in partnership with Him.
Fellowship of Prayer Strategists gathers, as God directs, that we may:
- grow in love for Him and one another,
- experience the iron sharpening iron as we learn from each other and His Spirit in an environment of intentional listening, and,
- encourage one another to discover best practices in every arena of prayer strategy which results in the greatest fruitfulness for His Kingdom’s sake.
This Gathering: Twenty-four from 5 regions participated full time, with another 3-5 joining for portions. Many work globally, some focused on regions, or specific ministries or people groups, and others joined who regularly serve in onsite prayer teams and with church prayer teams. This gathering focused primarily on prayer strategists serving networks, organizations, and partnerships such as the Ethnê Movement, 24:14 Coalition, International Orality Network, Wycliffe/SIL, AIM, AEA, Liberty Prayer Network, Evangelism Explosion International, Florida National Day of Prayer, Central Florida Prayer Network, Borderless, Global Diaspora Network, Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, International Partnering Associates, TransWorld Radio, Global Alliance for Church Multiplication (GACX), Asian Access, Deaf Bible Society and Ambassadors for Christ International. The Holy Spirit guided us to embrace and model the tension of the dance between being Mary and Martha, between seasons of intimacy and engagement, between worship and work. God invites us to join hands with Him and each other, to engage in the conversations and to ask better questions, listening for His responses. Intentional listening results in a high level of hearing His voice individually and corporately.
Daily Worship Themes: Betsy Brown facilitated our worship throughout the gathering. Friday we focused on God’s call to “Come Up Here”, offering ourselves as living sacrifices (all I Am. Have. Do. Suffer.), and reminding ourselves to “Stop. Look. Listen to God” as we moved from colleagues coming together, to becoming friends in our time together. We spent time assessing our own expectations and then listening to God for His expectations for our time together. We incorporated times of Intentional Listening as a part of each day. Saturday, we began our day by looking at the value of being one of God’s nameless, faceless. God redirected the focus from what had been planned to jump in the river of His Spirit, lifting our toes from “gripping” to control and letting His Spirit carry us forward where He would. With the room-sized global floor map shared by International Orality Network, we engaged in interactive prayer in Worship Warfare over the nations, and in a time of prayer along the Old Silk Roads. During the communion time, Tom Adleta reminded us of the experience of the disciples on the Emmaus Road, that as they broke the bread, their eyes were opened to see Jesus. Sunday, the JointheBibleProject (www.jointhebibleproject.com ) video “Holiness” opened our time which included a season of prayer using Joshua Project unreached people prayer cards and Scripture prayer tools.
The group gathered in the gazebo without their possessions for Prison Praise and Prayer, realizing that persecution may mean the only thing we have with which to survive is the Word of God and the song of the Lord in our hearts. Coming back into the building, God led us in times of identificational repentance including serving from a place of healing rather than from our woundedness, gender brokenness, elder/younger relationships, among other subjects. Monday we opened the day with another video from JointheBibleProject.com, called “Heaven and Earth”, picturing the role we have as prayer strategists of seeing Heaven and Earth uniting in the same space as we carry His Presence throughout the earth. “The Kairos Moment is Now” video emphasized the urgency of this hour and our assignment to be prepared and work while it is still day. Linda Bemis shared “The Eye of the Needle” audio which invited us to go low, lower, even lower in order to pass through the small gate that leads to His Presence (echoing laying our Isaac’s down). Each day we shared communion together. Maureen Bravo journaled on poster panels throughout the sessions (available to view on the FPS Facebook page along with photos of the proceedings) which reveal even more detail of what God spoke to us.
Workshop Topics: Saturday the Discovery Bible Study prayer set was introduced and practiced by the group; this is one of the tools developed in November by the Ethnê Prayer Team using the typical format used in most movements to Christ. It is simple, easy to reproduce and translate, uses only the Word of God guided by a set of simple questions which allows the Holy Spirit to be the teacher. Prayer strategists need good prayer shields and we shared discussion on what this looks like and how to establish them, including introducing Colin Millar’s booklet, The PIT Crew on personal intercessory teams. A brief history of FPS led into a short presentation on what is a prayer strategist and what are prayer strategies (see www.prayerstrategists.net for this information). Melinda Lyons shared with the group principles for those serving networks, organizations, and partnerships to “Look Back”—understanding the history and existing practices as well as the present culture of prayer of the group you serve.
This included looking at the spiritual dynamics at play in the group, really seeing the field in which we work through God’s eyes. Linda Bemis introduced “Look Up” submitting all this before the Lord and listening to His perspective and strategies. A substantial time was devoted to discussing what a “culture of prayer” was and how to attain it; Katherine Lorance will be writing up a short piece collating the thoughts that were shared. Sunday morning was a substantial time of participating with the Holy Spirit as He guided us in prayer and ministry times. Russ Simons shared about the role of prayer and prayer strategists in partnerships and the challenges of staying connected with good communication and briefly on issues of security. Four regional groups wrestled with the VisionSynergy MENA prayer mobilization research that had been provided. In this research, three main groups were highlighted: prayer requestors, prayer producers, and prayer intercessors. Many questions remained and we felt this topic alone required an entire workshop. The research indicated, in the opinion of the researchers, these practices likely would enhance prayer mobilization:
- Don’t let security prevent mobilization.
- Increase sharing answers to prayer to encourage intercessors.
- Increase measurement and self-awareness for continuous improvement.
- Increase tech savvy and learn new tools.
- Focus more on email and Twitter.
- Diversify target audience, methods, and broadly mobilize.
- Replicate and distribute prayer requests in a variety of languages.
- Increase the link between ‘on the ground’ ministry and prayer networks.
- Link and share requests with other networks.
Everyone felt that we needed to better understand what we consider “success” in terms of prayer and prayer mobilization. And, we need greater clarity on what we mean even when we speak of ‘prayer’ and what exactly we are wanting to generate when we ‘mobilize prayer’.
Understanding that there are at least 3 types of intercessors: general intercessors, crisis intercessors, and personal intercessors, mobilization could be better targeted to the preferred styles of intercession. In addition, in today’s world, houses of prayer, 24/7 boiler rooms and strategic prayer equipping groups, are only 3 new styles of prayer that do not fit these other categories and would require specific mobilization geared to their new styles of prayer engagement. All of this touches on the idea of needing to expand mobilization in other languages but doesn’t address the various ways that Global South believers might prefer to receive prayer requests and pray together—usually not through the technological means lists in the research. The research did not take into account the idea that we must model what we hope to reproduce—an idea at the heart of movements to Christ. Nor did it take into account that movements to Christ must be founded on listening prayer which is integral to the strategy development and execution of those movements. FPS has identified at least 14 different ‘spheres of prayer’ (see www.prayerstrategists.net to see these under ‘Resources by Strategy’), which also reflect ways that prayer potentially can impact, undergird, support, and carry forward the work of the Kingdom that would likely NOT be included in the idea of ‘prayer mobilization’ included in this research project.
Katherine Lorance shared briefly about the challenges of diaspora peoples (representing the equivalent of the fifth largest nation on earth). Betsy briefly presented the challenge of being prepared for opportunities God is opening through the Matthew 24 ‘earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, famines, plagues,’ etc. not only to respond but to include prayer strategists in the response and to be ready to be multiplying praying disciples as a result of our response. Again, these two topics would each be sufficient for an entire workshop on the subject.
Things We Didn’t Cover That We’d Like to See Covered at Some Point: Deeper on almost all topics. Developing Crisis Response prayer strategies and prayer strategists. Further work needed on developing the role of serving organizations, networks, and partnerships. Better understanding what is effective prayer engagement and how to measure it. Job’s description of a prayer strategist needs to be developed further. Worship warfare Discovery Bible Studies need to be developed in more depth.
Next Steps Recommended: Next steps proposed included:
- summarize all the sessions for distribution to the participants,
- continuing to raise up and mentor new prayer strategists,
- help prayer strategists set up prayer shields (coaching),
- attempt regular (monthly?) series of training calls for prayer strategists,
- establish a book swap to reduce costs for recommended resources,
- make the Body of Christ aware of the vision for prayer strategists and opportunities to include prayer strategists on their teams and in their organizations
Testimonies: Several mentioned the blessing of Betsy Brown’s facilitation of worship as a highlight as well as the variety of participants and the fellowship over the Word and worship. “It was a fantastic time to meet like-minded prayer strategists in so many different ways.” “I loved modeling and listening to God in a community.” “The flow of the Holy Spirit was so sweet and the sense of unity among us incredible.” “I appreciated the more experienced prayer strategists being so approachable and engaging with us all.” “I have loved and deeply benefited from this time, the content, the prayer pieces, the community building…” “
From Russ Simons of International Partnering Associates just shared: “Michael Kasper and I are part of a group called Global Network Leaders Forum and I reported on the FPS last week in LF. One thing that came out of the GNLF discussion was the desperate need for global networks and partnering groups to gather about this prayer strategy topic. Although the conveners of this FL gathering wanted to bring network prayer leader, we barely touched the surface of a very deep well of such people. This kind of process must grow!!! This may be the beginning. Prayer Strategists for UPGs around the world work mostly alone. We need to change that!”