In the last six months or so there has been a real increase in the amount of books focused on prayer ministry and seeing more of the supernatural in our churches. I have read two: one by a man who is lead pastor of a lively church that has a heart for the poor and a huge emphasis on demystifying the supernatural so that it becomes natural. The other by a woman who has been involved in prayer ministry for many years – and has been part of the Soul Survivor Watford team since the church began.
First off I need to make one thing clear: while it is fascinating to read of their experiences and the things they have learned (including the many 'tips' they provide) both regularly remind readers that there is no formula for this kind of thing. The most important thing we can do, whether we want to be more involved in prayer ministry or see more of the supernatural in our everyday lives, is to listen closely to God. That said, the wealth of wisdom packed in both books is invaluable.
'Our Hands, His Healing' by Jeannie Morgan is a big, practical book on the subject of prayer ministry and inner healing. It is divided into three sections: Prayer Ministry, Inner Healing Ministry and Pastoral Prayer Ministry and notes for leaders are included. Of the latter, I found the ideas and prompts regarding building teams for prayer ministry and pastoral prayer ministry particularly helpful.
The book includes many real-life stories of those Jeannie has prayed for over the years. With the wealth of experience she has had, you can tell that her words are peppered with real authority (which makes you feel at ease with a subject that can be difficult to write about – and, as a reader, connect with to feel confident about doing). It is these real-life examples that really made the book come alive for me as they revealed more about how prayer ministry works in practice. However, there is another reason why you, as a reader, feel you can connect with her: she is open and honest about her own painful story.
Jeannie prefaces the book by saying that too often churches pray without much theological and practical knowledge, enthusiastically carrying on 'blind' as it were, hoping that everything will work out fine. However if such ministry is not handled correctly then it can turn out not to be the blessing that it should be.
I wholeheartedly agree with Jeannie and applaud her for collating all of this information into a readily accessible book. She covers everything from where to place your hands when praying for someone through to what to do if a person needs deliverance. There are also really useful worksheets and scriptures on subjects ranging from anger, loss and rejection to our identity in Christ, that she has made available for photocopying.
Simon Holley's book 'Sustainable Power' is slightly different. It is his church's story of how they have sought to create a 'supernaturally-natural culture' in their church.
It all started when God 'ambushed' Simon and his wife 15 years previously, when someone prophesied over them that God was going to give them miracles, equip and train them so they can do the same for others before sending them out. There was an emphasis on God being the One who heals.
As Simon explains, the book is "the story of a group of people with an insatiable hunger to encounter a living God and take his life-giving and powerful gospel to the world around them. Is it possible to see God's power that we read about in the book of Acts at work in the church today? Is it possible to see God touch and anoint not just one special individual but a whole community? We believe that it is, and this is the story of our pursuit of him."
I found this book extremely engaging right from the start; possibly more so than the other because it is a personal story and journey so has that added element of humanity right through it. (That is not to say Jeannie's book was a difficult read – I just had to take it slower, in bite-size chunks as there was so much information packed into it.)
Before reading Simon's book I had had the privilege of attending a women's day in which the person who runs their church's 'school for supernatural ministries' spoke and ministered powerfully. I have also recently attended a prophetic conference in which another of their elders spoke. Each of their messages echoed Simon's and showed me that the authenticity of this book is absolute.
Not that I would have doubted that. Simon begins by being brutally honest – about where their church was with seeing the supernatural occur but, more than that, with the doubts he wrestled with and the things God had to do in him so that he could lead the church through its journey in this area.
The principles that Simon and his church have learned are littered throughout the book, but he too provides practical suggestions for ministering to others.
My husband and I took this book away on our summer holiday last year and were both rivetted by it. Not just by the honesty and integrity but also the way it made us feel 'we can do that'! It certainly demystifies the whole area of the supernatural and reminds us that it is simply how Jesus lived and, as his disciples, we should be doing the same. So much of what Simon wrote resonated with us – my husband kept exclaiming 'He sounds just like me!' and so many situations had us longing to see the same breakthrough in our own church.
Since reading the book we've bought a copy for everyone on our core leadership team – who have told us they feel as inspired and encouraged as us and urged us to get everyone in the church to read it! We've also instigated things like testimonies at the start of every meeting and regular prayer for healings and other miracles – interrupting the sung worship as necessary to do so. It has helped us raise our expectations and, in doing so, that of the church. Simon talks about the 'cultural transformation' needed so that the church can become what it is supposed to be. We need to be free ourselves so that we can, in turn, free others.
'Our Hands, His Healing' was published in 2014 by Monarch Books and 'Sustainable Power' in 2013 by Authentic. If you are interested in seeing God move more in the everyday life of your church, and long to be part of God's plan for restoring broken people then I can heartily recommend both books to you.
These books won't unlock everything for you so don't buy them as a 'quick fix'. Only walking closely to God and learning step by step with Him will help you develop in these areas – but it is so encouraging to hear from those who have gone before and are willing to share the lessons they've learned.