Nobody should underestimate the power of prayer as a critical ingredient of church growth. We plant the seed, but God alone provides the harvest. From beginning to end, church growth is a spiritual work and prayer is the water that makes that seed grow.
It has been well observed that God does not answer general prayers – He answers specific prayers (i.e. “God save souls” vs. “God save Mike”). Targeted prayer can have a powerful effect upon your evangelism efforts.
Numerical growth comes from three sources: births, transfers-in, and converts. However, only the last can be influenced by prayer. Numerical loss also comes from three sources: deaths, transfers-out, and backsliding. All three can be influenced by prayer.
Therefore, consider targeted prayer as a critical part of your church growth plan: Develop a vibrant and proactive team of prayer warriors that will pray daily for assigned needs and individuals. Teach and train this team when and how to pray effectively. See this team as important as the other ministry teams in your church (i.e. Sunday school teachers, home Bible study teachers, bus workers, etc.). Meet with them regularly for training, encouragement and inspiration.
What do they pray about? Daily or weekly prayer assignments should include evangelism prospects: church visitors, home Bible study students, bus parents, new converts, door-knocking contacts, and more. Prayer can also influence those struggling with specific needs that could cause them to stumble or move away: those in need of healing, new converts needing spiritual protection, saints needing jobs, individuals struggling spiritually and more.
Prayer works! I contend that prayer is perhaps the most important tool for successful church growth. But we cannot treat such a vital ingredient with a “hope so” attitude. Consider developing a powerful team of prayer warriors and make sure that every aspect of your church growth plan is infused with the supernatural power that ensures its success. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Ps. 126:5-6).