I can hardly believe the dramatic change that has come to my ministry! It all began a year ago when I learned the concept of personal prayer partnership.
For years I had longed to have men of the church pray with me. I could count on two fingers the men who had taken time to support me as their pastor in prayer. One elder stopped by my office now and then to pray with me. Another shared prayer with me after a difficult business meeting. These were meaningful experiences, but not much to show for more than 10 years of ministry.
I took an informal survey of my peers and discovered that I wasn't the only pastor around who lacked prayer fellowship with local church leaders. Although all of them expressed their need for it, few had experienced more than sporadic instances of prayer sup port. One pastor told me that he longed for elders to pray with him just before he preached. He had hinted to them of his desire that they pray for the Holy Spirit's power to anoint his speaking, but they didn't seem to understand his need.
Biblical base of prayer support
The concept of prayer support for spiritual leadership is rooted in Scripture. In the book of Exodus we find Moses going from a desperate situation (needing water for his people) to a miracle solution (water from the rock). Then suddenly he found himself faced with another crisis—Amalekites were attacking the camp. He commissioned Joshua to lead the men of Israel into battle while he went to the top of a hill and held up his hands to the Lord. The results were remarkable:
"As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but when ever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning" (Ex. 17:11).1
Aaron and Hur caught on to what was happening. They surrounded Moses and held his hands high so Joshua would prevail against the enemy.
"When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword" (verses 12, 13).
By now you have realized that Aaron and Hur were the first official prayer partners of a spiritual leader. Their assistance enabled Moses to continue in prayer so Joshua could win the battle.
Let me suggest some applications for us today. I see Moses representing our leadership, whether we serve as a pastor, teacher, administrator, evangelist, or local church leader. Like Moses, we must be in prayer to the Father. Too often in a crisis we race to solve the situation ourselves. But Moses didn't rush off to fight the enemy. He hastened into prayer.
Now, who does the warrior Joshua symbolize? In Hebrew the name means "Yahweh is salvation," and in Greek Joshua is translated "Jesus." In reality, then, the one who fights our battles is Jesus! He alone can conquer the enemy. As long as we keep praying, Jesus will fight our battles. If we cease praying, the battle isn't won.
Now for the third symbol, the sup port of Aaron and Hur. Despite their shortcomings, Moses needed their prayer partnership. Without it the Israelites would have suffered loss. Spiritual leaders today likewise need prayer support people. Ellen White observed: "Happy the minister who has a faithful Aaron and Hur to strengthen his hands when they become weary and to hold them up by faith and prayer. Such a support is a powerful aid to the servant of Christ in his work and will often make the cause of truth to triumph gloriously." 2
"As Aaron and Hur supported the hands of Moses, they showed the people their duty to sustain him in his arduous work while he should receive the word from God to speak to them. And the act of Moses also was significant, showing that God held their destiny in His hands; while they made Him their trust, He would fight for them and subdue their enemies; but when they should let go their hold upon Him, and trust in their own power, they would be even weaker than those who had not the knowledge of God, and their foes would prevail against them.
"As the Hebrews triumphed when Moses was reaching his hands toward heaven and interceding in their behalf, so the Israel of God prevail when they by faith take hold upon the strength of their mighty Helper." 3
Upon understanding this concept of personal prayer partnership, I decided to implement it. My wife and I each sought partners from the congregation who were willing to make a one-year commitment to pray for us, the church, and its projects. Realizing that prayer brings people close together, we kept men and women separate—I chose six men, she found seven women.
We launched the program by having a retreat for the men and another for the women. In our separate groups, my wife and I shared the importance of prayer partnership and confided some of our needs and weaknesses. We were vulnerable with our partners, and they in turn were vulnerable with us and one an other.
The prayer partner retreat was a high point in my ministry. Never before had men prayed over me and my needs like that. A strong bond formed at the retreat that continued throughout the year.
Each of the partners was assigned one day of the week to uphold my wife and me in prayer. For Sabbath the men took turns meeting with me at 7:00 a.m. in the church to pray over the children's departments, the adult Sabbath school classes, and the worship service. The men also prayed for me and my message. Their powerful intercession enabled me to start each Sabbath with the right "Spirit."
Through the year the prayer partners met once a quarter for breakfast. We talked about how the program was going and discussed specific prayer requests from church members and from one another. Along with their responsibility to pray for me, each selected a personal partner from among the group. Each pair got together during the week to pray.
With all this praying going on, I felt I could handle any challenge during the upcoming year! And I did.
Let me share a warning. Whenever we unite in God's strength, Satan tries to destroy us. During the time I was developing prayer partners, I had to weather strong criticism from offshoot factions within the church. It was a rough time— but I had my partners praying for me. Challenges that might have destroyed me earlier now seemed easy to deal with. This past year turned out to be the most successful year for evangelism we have ever had. Our church prospered financially as well. Great things are happening with the continual prayer support of our partners.
Power through prayer doesn't come without a price. Satan worked hard to discourage our prayer partners this past year. One had marriage problems. Another's mother had major cancer surgery and his father became paralyzed. Another partner had a bicycle accident that required surgery; as a result he had to quit college, and lost his financial support. Then his wife lost her job; after that they lost their car. Another partner suffered a divorce and the hurt of having his children removed from him to an other state.
The list goes on. But as long as the prayer partners continued to meet regularly, through prayer they found strength to cope with every situation.
Power and peace for you too
After a year of having prayer partners, I almost forgot what it was like before I had them; how I used to hunger for men to pray with me. Now my partners stop by the church office when ever they can to pray with me. I can testify to the power and peace this brings to a pastor.
If you are tired of standing alone, you too can have a prayer partner ministry in your church. Our congregation has prepared materials to help you get started (see the box elsewhere on this page).
I am determined that my ministry will always have the support of a prayer partner program. Now I never have to face anything alone again.
1 Unless otherwise noted, scriptural passages
in this article are from the New International
2 Ellen G. White, Testimonies (Mountain
View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948),
vol. 4, p. 531.
3 ————, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain
View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1958),