Laying a Foundation of Prayer (with Terry Virgo)

Terry Virgo is the founder of Newfrontiers, a church planting family of churches that currently numbers around 1,500 churches in over 70 nations.  In this hangout, Terry draws on his years of ministry experience to share with us about how we can lay a foundation of prayer in our churches.


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The Leader's Own Prayer

  • A church plant leader must have their own confidence in prayer.
  • This comes from awareness of our acceptance with God. We are not praying to try to gain acceptance, but we know that God delights in us.
  • Start by celebrating who God is and what he has done. For example, when Joshua prayed and got a glimpse of God, the walls of Jericho seemed to shrink. 
  • Prayer is coming into the confidence that God is for us, God is with us and his power is available. It is important that as we pray we engage with God.

Prayer Meetings

  • In our prayer meetings, we should worship, celebrate and engage with the Holy Spirit's presence. Together as a people we can gain a confidence that God is with us.
  • When praying with two or three others you can get a real sense of unity of purpose in prayer.
  • Though there are things that we do want to pray for, Terry wouldn't lead a prayer meeting with a list. His priority would be to meet God first and foremost.
  • Get hold of specific promises that inspire confidence in prayer (e.g. John 15:16, James 5:13).
  • Prayer mingled with truth and promises makes faith grow.
  • Leaders should unashamedly take a lead in prayer meetings. One of the greatest privileges of leadership is leading the people to God in prayer.
  • It is good to focus on particular targets in prayer. These can be short term targets (such as next Sunday's meetings) or longer term targets (such a building project).
  • It is good to give testimonies and tell stories to stimulate the faith of others.
  • There is a difference between faith and bravado. It is possible to pray for something so big that it can actually kill the faith that is in the room.
  • Leaders should discern as they lead prayer. In faith, has the prayer been answered? Do we need to pray for this thing for a bit longer or should we move on? (As the church grows together, we may be able to discern this corporately.)
  • It is good to encourage people to stay with a topic as we pray. It is like a conversation where we stay with a topic until it is exhausted, and only then move on.
  • It is good to have times where everyone prays at the same time. It is also good to have times where individuals lead out in prayer and everyone agrees with them, and to have times where people pray together in smaller groups.
  • We should be open to the use of spiritual gifts, and looking for God to speak to us as we pray together.
  • We should pray with all the energy that the Holy Spirit mightily inspires.
  • In prayer we can break through into the supernatural realm, and faith can come through prayer.
  • Jesus said that we should always pray and never give up. This is not easy as there are many distractions that could lead us to neglect prayer.

Q&A

1. How do you keep people's faith going when you fail to hit a big target that you are going for in prayer (such as a building)?
  • When David was at Ziklag and the enemy took everything, David 'encouraged himself in the Lord'. The first priority is to get our own soul happy in the Lord.
  • After we have done this we can tell stories (either our own or other people's) where there have been setback and delays and yet they have come through the other side and seen what God has done. 
  • Be open about the disappointment and reaffirm the vision.
2. What encouragements do you have for somebody who is planting a church in a very secular nation?
  • The principles are the same, even if the location is different.
  • Hang on to God's faithfulness.
3. Can you share about your own prayer life?
  • We shouldn't take the means of grace, such as prayer, and turn them into obligations. There is a difference between discipline and legalism.
  • Terry always tries to start his prayer times with worship and thanksgiving.
  • The Lord's Prayer can form a helpful structure for prayer.
  • Some suggest starting prayer with confession, but the Biblical starting point is worship and relating to God as 'Father'.
  • Enjoying the presence of God is so important.
  • Then start asking for things
4. How does Terry Virgo pray with his wife?
  • It varies from one season of life to the next. At some times they have prayed together a lot, other times less so due to the different circumstances of life.
5. In prayer meetings, how do you know whether to push on praying for something or to move on?
  • It's a sense, and you can learn to recognise the moment.
  • Sometimes it can be a corporate discerning. Ask the other people in the room.
  • Sometimes you really don't know and need to use your best judgment.
6. Have you got an illustration of where someone wanted to pray for something that was bravado rather than a faith goal?
  • James O. Fraser often prayed for 500 families to be saved. People asked him why he didn't pray for thousands and he replied by saying that was what he had peace for.
  • Often younger people can push you to pray for things that no-one in the room has faith for.
  • Sometimes when someone has died after receiving a lot of prayer for healing, there are people who want to go to the mortuary to pray for the body. Whilst Terry Virgo wouldn't tell them not to do so, he wants to be careful not to put it on the church.
7. How do we motivate people to pray?
  • Don't try to push people to come to the prayer meeting.
  • it is better to start with a smaller group of people who really want to pray.
  • This creates an exciting faith-filled dynamic that will cause others to want to come along.
  • Perhaps sometimes mention how good a recent prayer meeting was.
  • It is better to motivate people with a carrot than with a stick.
8. A church planter has lots of things that they need to do. How do you decide how much of the time to spend praying?
  • It is not primarily a question of time but a sense of 'this is in God's hands now'.

Recommended Resources

In this hangout, Terry Virgo recommended the following books: 

Terry has also written many books all of which we would highly recommend. These include:

Note - If you buy any of these books using the affiliate links above, Broadcast will receive a commission from Amazon to help more churches get planted, at no additional cost to you.