Prayer For Ministries That Support Orphans
10 things that will kill your orphan care ministry: Part 4
This is last part of a series (read parts 1, 2, and 3) born several years of consulting with and observing many churches across America develop orphan care ministries.
Over time, I have noticed some common mistakes that cause these ministries to struggle and even fail. I want to share those observations with you in an effort to help and to stir a discussion about the good things being done to minister well in orphan care.
8. Lack of pastoral support
One sure thing that will kill your church’s orphan care ministry is a lack of pastoral support.
I have repeatedly heard this as a chief frustration of orphan ministry leaders who are struggling to keep going or by those struggling to begin a ministry in their church.
Many times, it’s not that pastors outright oppose it as much they marginalize it by their lack of enthusiasm or weak support. The question is why?I have found three reasons that many pastors fail to give their enthusiastic support for orphan ministry:
One sure thing that will kill your church’s orphan care ministry is a lack of pastoral support.
- They think it will take away from the “more important” ministries of the church. Examples of these ministries include evangelism and discipleship. Recent research from the Barna Research Group indicates that just the opposite is true, at least for young adult Christians, when it comes to evangelism. They found that engaging in justice ministry tends to increase evangelism in born-again young adults.
- They don’t understand the gospel significance of caring for orphans. Too often, pastors see orphan care as a little something extra.They fail to see orphan care and other mercy ministries as natural good work that should flow a person who has been changed by the gospel (Matt. 25:31-46).
- They fear distraction from the church’s mission and dwindling of critical resources. Just the opposite is often the case, especially among younger Christians. Younger believers see giving and connection to mission differently than previous generations. They are less ly to give blindly to general church funds and pooled mission funds. They want to be part of the mission. They give to and work toward what they have a connection with. Orphans are people that the church can reach with purpose. It can give younger believers a way to be involved in the church’s mission financially and in presence. This involvement can translate to connection to the rest of the work of the church. The result is more connection and more passion for the gospel and the church’s work, not less.
I would caution you about two things at this point. Don’t expect your pastor to have the same passion for orphan ministry that you do. Secondly, don’t become a clanging symbol. You won’t nag your pastor into a greater vision for orphan care. Give him good facts and resources that will help inform about orphans, but most of all, pray for him. Trust God to give him a vision.
9. Poor connection to the church’s mission
For orphan ministry to be effective, it has to be connected to the overall mission and vision of the church. There are two important reasons why:
- The mission of the church isn’t alterable or debatable. Ultimately, the church’s mission is defined by Jesus, the head of the church. What we do in and through the church, we do under the rule and authority of Jesus because the church is his. The church’s mission is to make disciples, and orphan care is part of that mission. We can’t lose sight of either priority.
- Each church is set into a specific context. The time and place of its existence is part of what God uses to shape its unique vision. No two local churches will work to accomplish the mission of the universal church the same way. That means that no two churches can accomplish orphan ministry the same way. Not being sensitive to the culture inside and outside your church and accounting for the uniqueness will kill your church’s orphan ministry.
One final thing that will kill your orphan ministry is prayerlessness. The world’s orphan crisis is epic. According to UNICEF’s estimates, there are approximately 153 million orphans around the globe, but the number really fails to represent the crisis accurately.
This number represents children who have lost one parent to death, but it does not account for the scores of children abandoned by living parents, those living on the streets, those enslaved and trafficked, and those in countries (particularly Islamic) who fail to report orphan statistics.
In truth, the UNICEF number is a statistic that is meant to underscore the vulnerability of children to the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic, not to account for what we would consider orphaned children.
God has given the responsibility of orphan care to his people in order to display his character and salvation to the nations, but we have to acknowledge that the task is beyond us. We need something more than the resources at our disposal to address the problem.
Unfortunately, many churches make the mistake of focusing too intently on the tangible over the intangible. Instead of taking sufficient time to pray, they are drawn into the easy trap of working hard at solving problems for orphans without seeking God’s power, direction, and provision.
We can’t afford not to take time to pray.
Being prayerless in orphan care is “taking a knife to a gunfight.” It is a powerless, losing proposition. It aims too low. We will find ourselves meeting mere temporal needs with no lasting significance and no gospel impact if we fail to pray for God’s direction and provision constantly.
Prioritizing prayer seems oxymoronic to many, but it makes perfect sense. In elevating prayer, we acknowledge our helplessness and utter dependence upon God. Prayer is something tangible. It is communion with the Most High God. It is the most important work.
This Lifeline originally appeared here.
Top 7 Bible Verses About Orphans
God is highly concerned about orphans. Here are 7 of the top Bible verses about orphans.
Psalm 68:5 “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”
What a tender side of God this is Who is a Father to the fatherless (orphans) and protector of the widows. Most of the world seems to ignore the widows and the orphans because they don’t seem to matter in this world.
Those who teach and preach the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel, which as Paul wrote, is not really a gospel at all (Gal 1:7), must think that they’re in such a state because they don’t have enough faith.
Paul wrote that “the gospel I preached is not of human origin.
I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:11b-12) and if a church does teach and preach the real gospel, then it will have true religion, and true religion is highly concerned with orphans and widows (James 1:27) as we will read next.
James 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Want a great definition of pure religion? There is no better definition found in the Bible than in James 1:27 and it includes keeping oneself unstained or unspotted from the world but the first order of importance, and perhaps why James puts it first, is that of visiting the orphans and the widows in their affliction. Can you think of a better place than a nursing home or an assisted care living center to minister to next to an orphanage because almost every one of the nursing home residents are both orphans (parents deceased) and widows or widowers (with their spouse gone).?
John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
Just before Jesus left to go to the cross and die for their sins (and ours) and later ascend back up to heaven, the disciples were very anxious about Jesus’ speaking that He was going away and to where they could not (yet) come. Jesus’ reassurance to them is one for us too that He will not leave us orphans because He promises that He will come again to them and for us.
Exodus 22:22-24 “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”
This verse is crystal clear about God’s concern for the widows and orphans. The law is clear. They are not to be mistreated and this mistreatment could be in the form of neglect, abuse, or taking advantage of those who are in a defenseless position. For those who do take advantage of these disenfranchised people, God’s wrath is a promise.
Psalm 82:3 “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”
When the psalmist writes about maintaining the rights of the afflicted and destitute, which consist of the weak and the fatherless (orphans), he is establishing the fact that Israel did have laws that defended the defenseless but in Jesus’ day, there was no justice for these people which is why He rebuked those were the experts in the law and they knew better; “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation” (Matt 23:14). The word “woe” is Greek for “ouai” and means it is a judgment from God.
Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
Isaiah would have never written that they need to “Learn to do good [and] seek justice” and “correct oppression” if they were already doing it.
They needed to learn to do this because apparently they were not providing justice to the orphans nor were they pleading for the cause of the widows.
This was all the more reason for Isaiah’s scathing chastisement of Judah and part of the reason that they would be sent into captivity.
Psalm 146:9 “The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.”
We are all sojourners in this world; just passing through so we are no different than strangers today who we are commanded to make feel welcome (Matt 25:31-40). God upholds the widow and the orphans but in due time, He will bring to the wicked His judgment (Rev 20:12-15).
When Job wrote “Because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him” (Job 29:12) he was saying that he knew that it was good to help those who cannot help themselves; the poor and the orphans.
God will hold us accountable for everything we do in this life but also includes our neglecting the widows and orphans because if we do neglect them, this only proves that we are not practicing nor living out what James calls pure religions (James 1:27).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas.
Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.
Prayer (Deliverance) Ministry Ideas And Guidelines
I would not be where I am today in my life, relationships and ministry without the help and freedom I have received through Prayer Ministry.
Occasionally, I recommend Prayer Ministry to readers who are struggling. Today I share some thoughts that may assist if you are considering receiving prayer, or setting up Prayer Ministry in your church.
What is Prayer Ministry and when is it Beneficial?
Ministering to someone through prayer can take place in any arena of church life—including evangelism.
However, ‘Prayer Ministry’ is where a deeper level of prayer for individuals is provided in a safe, supervised setting.
This may be helpful:
- When a person’s need requires a longer time to pray than is possible in a church service
- As a supplement to counselling or pastoral care, especially for those who are ‘stuck’ in an area of their life
- If there is an addictive or demonic issue at work
- If the issue requiring prayer is confidential
4 Criteria for Safe and Effective Prayer Ministry
Over the years, I have had positive experiences of Prayer Ministry that resulted in help and breakthrough.
However, I also had some negative—even harmful, experiences whilst receiving prayer for deliverance. I now realise these could have been avoided if some simple guidelines had been in place.
Recently, as a prayer department leader, I was involved in establishing Prayer Ministry in our church. Following are some criteria that team members and I decided were important as we launched our own Prayer Ministry department :
Accountability may include:
- Prayer Ministry team members are appointed and under oversight. If the Prayer Ministry is not local church-based, the team members are there with the knowledge and recommendation of leadership in their own church.
- The Prayer Ministry itself has oversight in the form of church leadership or a God-honouring Board.
Why this is important:
It provides a safe environment for the prayer team as well as those being prayed for. Accountability and leadership is a Biblical concept—and spiritual authority is released through being under authority (Matt 8:5-13)
2. Application Process
An application process provides a means in which the person receiving prayer must disclose any:
- Relevant medical history
- Medications being taken
- Counselling or ministry currently being undertaken, and
- The name of the faith community (church) he or she is attending.
Why this is important:
This is necessary when the Prayer Ministry is caring for new people whose background is unknown. It highlights any potential difficulties or reasons why prayer ministry should not be undertaken. It helps provide the best level of care for both givers and receivers of prayer.
3. A Referral System
This referral may be incoming or outgoing, and can also be formal or informal.
Referral can take place to or from:
- Pastoral care in the church
- Christian counselling
- Medical assistance.
Why this is important:
Prayer ministry is effective, but it is important to remember that it is just one tool to help bring us freedom in Christ.
Two dangers that a healthy referral process helps avoid are:
- The Prayer Ministry becoming an isolated ministry
- An unhealthy dependence on prayer ministry by individuals
4. Prayer Team Members are Appointed and Trained
Prayer ministers are screened, trained and appointed, ensuring that they have not only the appropriate spiritual gifts, but also the knowledge, experience and Biblical tools to minister freedom to people.
Why this is important:
Prayer Ministry can be open-heart surgery—someone comes in with a need, makes confession and opens their heart to receive ministry from the Holy Spirit. That is a very vulnerable position—and it is vital that prayer team members have the gifts, skills and character to minister well. This may include specialist training.
Remember, Jesus selected His disciples; He then mentored them and showed them how He ministered before sending them out. They then reported back to Him.
Ideas for the Process of Prayer Ministry
Following are some things that can take place in a Prayer Ministry session:
- The prayer team (consisting of two trained prayer ministers) listens to the client express the need, and prays for him or her.
- The prayer team may operate in gifts of the Holy Spirit such as discernment, or word of knowledge as they listen to what God is saying about the person’s need.
- They may lead the person through a Biblical response to God such as forgiveness, repentance or a prayer of commitment.
- On occasion, freedom prayer (such as deliverance ministry) may be used.
- The prayer team always checks that the person is agreeable—i.e. obtain the consent of the person who is receiving ministry—before proceeding with any of the above.
- Optional: some Prayer Ministry includes the ministry of intercessors praying in a separate room or location (with the client remaining anonymous). They may provide feedback on what God has spoken to them.
Never assume that because a ministry is called ‘Prayer Ministry’ or ‘Deliverance Ministry’ that it operates in the exact way that I have outlined above.
- What takes place in an individual Prayer Ministry session will vary according to the need expressed.
- Also, every Prayer Ministry team will also have its own particular style, methods and values.
Whether you are seeking prayer yourself, or referring another person, you have a right to ask about the philosophy, style and methods of the Prayer Ministry.
Notes: Following are some other safety guidelines we incorporated into our own Prayer Ministry process:
For our own ministry, we decided not to retain notes, apart from the signed intake form.
- Pastoral Care:
Being a church-based ministry, we advised people to notify their Pastoral Care leaders of their participation in Prayer Ministry.
- Safety for All Parties
We communicated that those ministering or those receiving prayer could stop the session at any time if they felt uncomfortable.
We also provided clients with the name of a Prayer Ministry supervisor or [in the case of our church] the Pastoral Care Pastor for people who had questions or concerns.
Other Posts on Prayer:
Prophetic Intercession, Its Power And Pitfalls
3 Simple Ways To Pray For Healing
6 Tips For Exercising The Gift Of Discernment In Church Life
Do you have any ideas or insights to share about Prayer Ministry, its process or guidelines? Leave a comment in the comments box. If it is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.
© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching
On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church
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