Friday, August 31, 2007

Ministry Time Q&A

In the comments to the previous post on the my longing for a return to the Vineyard 5-step prayer model (Pining), Dave Halls raised some interesting questions and insights, which I thought warranted a new post to address.

I've tried to re-phrase Dave's questions into a Q&A format, and I hope this does justice to what he was intending.

Q: Could the Five Step Prayer Model best be seen as "Prayer 101"?
As we used it back in the day, it certainly did function as an introduction to prayer ministry. And while it should never be seen as the be-all and end-all of prayer ministry, the simplicity of it kept us from becoming overly-dramatic (adopting unnecessary language, volume, tone, or physical gestures to demonstrate "anointing"), and kept the focus on the person receiving the prayer, and the co-operation with what the Spirit was doing.
Q: Could the well-known stories of manifestations at Wimber's meetings served as giving “permission” to similar things at TACF, while the five-step model was now "old news"?
Yes, although I had never attended one of Wimber's Signs & Wonders conferences, I suppose what was written in Power Evangelism and Power Healing could be seen that way. I think where things started getting "off" was more when a thinking co-operation with the Spirit gave way to scripted "here's what you're coming for prayer for".

And any prayer model can become routinized. Sometimes, however, the things we seek or allow that get us "out of a rut" may not be of long-term benefit.
Q: Doesn't TACF train their prayer teams to take time with people, instead of the knock-em-down style that was highlighted in the comments to the other post?
I haven't been for a number of years, so I'm not sure how they train their prayer teams. I know the phrase "soaking prayer" was around during those days, and the idea was to take time when praying for others, instead of having the ministry time version of a fast-food drive-thru.

It's apparent that people have had differing experiences of prayer times in TACF, and each of us can speak only of what we personally experienced. Wendy & I were once mowed down by an over-zealous prayer couple who yelled "more, Lord" and "yes, God" as they pushed and pulled a whole line of people down within minutes. Because we were Vineyard pastors at the time, we knew we needed to inform the leaders there about this substandard behaviour, but the leaders assumed we were critics and literally turned their backs on us as we were talking to them.

I don't want to make the mistake of seeing this as a TACF-only problem. It affected many Vineyards and many churches in other denominations, as well.

And it bears repeating that we're not questioning the genuineness of the Spirit's presence at TACF or other places that were "in the river" – we have benefited spiritually from what the Holy Spirit was doing in that season. Those were precious times with Him; it's the way that we allowed prayer times to change that is of concern to me.
Q: Didn't "more Lord" originate with Wimber, or wasn't he at least one of those known to say such things during ministry times?
I don't doubt it, and let me be clear: I'm not advocating for a moratorium on the phrase "more, Lord". Sometimes, it may be the only appropriate thing to say, depending on what God is doing at the time. It's the mindless repetition of "more Lord", as if it were a charismatic incantational mantra, that I'm suggesting has replaced a more pastoral and Spirit-led model of praying for others.
Q: Would it be better to place prayer models, of any kind, into the category of spiritual formation, instead of seeing them devolve into palliative care?
If I'm getting what you're saying here, I would agree that the hard work comes after prayer is over; however, I'm NOT suggesting that the prayer is significant only as a "decision point", with receiving prayer being some kind of participatory indicator of the seriousness of the person making said decision.

For example, when people have come forward requesting prayer for their struggle with forgiving someone, the prayer time is significant on several levels – acknowledgement of the need for change, inner healing for whatever wounds have contributed to the lack of forgiveness, and empowering of the Spirit to "walk out forgiveness" once the prayer time is over and Monday morning reality must be engaged. In this sense, prayer ministry does indeed fit into the category of spiritual formation.

And certainly, there are people who treat ministry time as a magic wand that fixes everything instantaneously and that applies both to those who are praying and those who are receiving prayer. Without in any way discounting or marginalizing the Holy Spirit's touch during those prayer times, we need to realize that the "co-operation" part of ministry time must continue as we walk out those prayer times in real time.
It seems like the theme across greater blogdom this past week has been prayer! Thanks for keeping the conversation going with some great questions. I look forward to seeing this dialogue continue.

1 comment:

  1. I think an important key here is that although spiritual leaders can give us guidence on how we can pray, we need to be careful about putting God in a box.

    There are times when God speaks to the people praying and the "prayee" does not need to say anything. Then there are times when God is telling the prayee to tell people what needs to be prayed about - just like what I did with Rob.

    I see the 5 step prayer process and others like that as a framework to help us get going - to give us spiritually timid people that first step of faith.