As an intercessory prayer team, your group is naturally focused on the needs of others. Although there is great fulfillment in that, burnout is a high probability unless time for personal nurture takes place.
Consider setting aside time quarterly or every six months to emphasize personal ministry to your prayer partners. This is important if your group has been meeting for awhile, but its a good idea for new members who join as well.
Let the group know of the temporary shift in focus. Those who are diehard intercessors may initially balk, so assure them that this change is temporary, and that it won’t encroach on time you spend in intercession for those outside of your group. Remind them that unless they refill their own wells, they will be unable to effectively minister to the needs of others.
Devote an evening to this ministry time, or if possible, plan a day or weekend retreat. Let the Holy Spirit set the agenda, but here are some possibilities that this type of refuel/refocus gathering might include:
Read a book or work through a Bible study together with an emphasis on personal ministry and healing.
Once you’ve gone through some aspect of teaching on personal ministry and healing, allow time for members to share struggles they may be facing. Remember to make this a safe place to share and heal—unconditional acceptance and absolute confidentiality are essential.
After each one shares, stop right then and there to gather around the person as a group and minister to them through prayer. Make sure that each person who has received ministry leaves with at least one other person committed to pray for their situation.
Give each person time alone to pray through, reflect on, and record at least 10 significant answers to personal prayer. The answers can be from recent events, or things that happened several years ago individually or as a group. When you gather back together, provide an opportunity for anyone who wants to share at least one personal story of God’s faithfulness.
Spend time together thanking and praising God for these specific answers to prayer. Then, in a tangible way, record these victories—compile the stories in a group journal and make a copy for each member of the group. Or have each person briefly write their answers to prayer on small smooth stones, and as a group fill up a jar with the stones as a visual Ebenezer of God’s faithfulness.
Making sure your prayer team experiences the benefits of personal prayer ministry themselves will equip and encourage them to stay in the business of ministry to others.
Hi Rebecca, good to read all your good writings. I would like to add that prayer refreshes us and does not cause burn-out as you so indicated in the first sentence of the article. When we pray for others, God in return blesses us.
Hi Deline, thanks for your comment. I've met a lot of burned out pray-ers which is why I wrote the article. :) I do agree that prayer can refresh, but also know that when people do nothing but give, they do burn out. It's good for those who constantly serve to at times step back periodically and allow themselves to be refreshed and ministered to.