This research work was centered on the ministry of prayer and its implication for church growth. The purpose being to show the role the ministry of prayer plays in church growth, using Living Faith Church as a case study. The approach employed in carrying out this research is historical method. The research work adopted library and field based approach; this includes the study of related materials which includes books, journals, thesis and the use of internet and the conduction of oral interviews. Data was collected, analyzed and findings were observed which included the fact that growth occurred in Living Faith Church as a result of the church corporate dedication to prayers and also having a praying pastor as her spiritual head. The researcher therefore recommended that church leaders and Pastors should engage in the work of Intercession and also encourage members to participate in prevailing prayers because the level of the prayer life of the church determines the outcome of the growth of the church. The researcher also recommended that every local Church should recruit at least 5 -50 people depending on the size and population of the church who will dedicate their lives to the work of intercession whereas the church must be prepared for the welfare of these intercessors in order to ensure the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth.
1.1 Background of the Study
Through careful observation, researchers had discovered that prayer ministry is the secret of growth and success of many Christian organizations. Prayer is the power of Christians. Most importantly the power of’ ministers. Don Saliers comments, “Prayer is essential to “the call to holiness at the heart of the Christian gospel,” indeed, it “constitutes the focal point of Christian existence: Christ’s own life is one of active prayer and prayerful action. It is thus fitting to speak of his whole life as a prayer— a continual self-offering in love and obedience to the Father.”
Pastors and spiritual leaders of the Nigerian church have sensed the severity of this church crisis have been trying to resolve it by enacting numerous church growth projects and programs. Day and night, they earnestly worked and strived to overcome the downswing of the Nigerian Church. Despite the striving of the Nigerian ministers, circumstances did not seem to get better, rather they only got worse. This proves the fact that church growth programs and methodologies have a limitation and the church cannot develop only through programs designed by man.
Nigerian ministers strive and eagerly long for qualitative growth; however, the problem does not seem to get better. As a solution to this difficult reality that the Nigerian Church is encountering, this project investigates the effects of prayer on church growth from the perspective of practical theology.
Many churches have grown greatly by successfully developing all four or even just one of these elements. Out of the four factors, however, prayer should be focused more thoroughly, because it applies to the other three elements. A church can never experience true growth if it lacks prayer.
Thus, prayer is the most important key to church growth. Prayer is not only vital for church growth, but it is also crucial for a church’s members. Among the members of a church, prayer is like a spiritual respiratory system. A person who no longer breathes is considered to be dead. Likewise, a Christ follower who stops praying is spiritually dead. Christians can have a fellowship with God through prayer. Christ taught the disciples how to pray as well as set a great example by living a life of prayer. The disciples had learned how to live a life of prayer from Christ, and the members of the early Church learned it from the disciples. In other words, the life of prayer has been inherited from generation to generation in the Church. Dr. William Parker and Alain St. Jones state that prayer is not only an effective way to heal diseases but also to the only way to reconstruct.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Every church prays in its own way. However, how much prayer contributes to church growth, is an important issue. Even if one prays, prayers that remains on a personal and rhetorical level cannot cause church growth. Even prayer should be dynamic, and dynamic prayer produce church growth (Matthew 18:19, Acts 2:42; 4:23-31).
The researcher observes that one of the primary causes of stagnation in churches was insufficiency of prayer. This appears to be a common reason for the stagnation of churches. Therefore, a study on this subject should help pastors and the churches overcome stagnation, and return to growth. This researcher feels sure that powerful prayer will increase the effectiveness of a variety of growth elements and contribute to church growth. Furthermore, this writer thinks that the churches using these elements with prayer are growing at present.
1.3 Purpose of The Study
The Purpose of this research work are as follows:
To show the role the ministry of prayer plays in church growth, using Mission of Heaven Evangelistical Movement to express the impact of prayer to church growth. To assist in transforming specific churches that are declining into growing church.
To emphasis the role a Pastor’s prayer life plays in the growth of the church and advancement of the kingdom of God.
To present the biblical basis and perspective of prayer coupled with several examples from both the Old and New Testament. To evaluate ministry of prayer in Living Faith Church and Its Implication for the Growth of the church.
1.4 Significance of The Study
It is the desire of the researcher that whoever comes across this research work will have good information about intercessory ministry and its impact upon the church of God. It also helps the general Christians to view how the Bible presented intercessors and their activities to better the life of people and, enhance the purpose of God. Pastors, men, women and youth leaders would benefit from the intercessory prayers and other department in church and future researchers. It will equally be relevant for missionaries and church planters on the immense benefit of building the foundation of a new mission work on prayer.
1.5 Delimitation of the Study
The scope of this research shall be confined to the ministry of prayer and its implication to the growth of the church with particular reference to Living Faith Church.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
Every research work has some shortcomings which arise as a result of problems encountered by the researcher in the course of the work. The researcher encountered some difficulties in getting the questionnaires to those concerned, some leaders and members given questionnaire were hoarding relevant information. A good number of others did not return their questionnaire. Hence, these limitations did not hinder the researcher to present reliable compilations of the research work.
1.7 Research Methodology
Embarking on this research work, the researcher adopted the following methods:
i. Historical method of research: The research employed more of library and less field work.
ii. The Library of’ LIFE Theological Seminary and CSS bookshop were consulted for materials on prayers and intercessory ministry.
iii. Analytical and descriptive method were also be employed.
iv. Internet Sources were also consulted with adequate reference.
v. Relevant people such as Pastors, prayer leaders and members were interviewed in the local church and the information was put to use in the study.
1.8 Research Questions
The research questions are as follows:
What is the relationship between the ministry of Prayer and Church growth? How can the church maintain a balance between the ministry of the Word of God and Prayer like the days of the Apostles?
What are the roles of a Prayerful Pastor on Church Growth?
What were the effects of effective prayers on the growth of the Church? What are the strategies that can be employed by the church to improve its approach on ministry of prayer to enhance Church growth? What are the prospects of the Ministry of Prayer at Living Faith Church and possible solutions to tackle prayerlessness in the Church?
1.9 Definition of Terms
The Key terms or words used ¡n this work are as follows:
The New Testament Greek word “ecclesia” is synonymous with the Hebrew word “Qahal” of the Old Testament, both simply means “assembly” (Act 19:32. 39, 41). It also denotes the whole body of the redeemed (Eph. 5:23, 25, 27). The church is therefore the assembly of’ believers in Christ Jesus called to fulfil the purpose of God on earth.
This is an important of worship which involves the human spirit and its approach to God. The Hebrew word “tephillah” which means to pray or a prayer”, a form of intercession or supplication. Prayer is violent opposition to the will of the devil, to put him out of control.
According to British English Dictionary. Implications means to connect in, or involved in. That is to have necessary accompaniment, intertwined impactful one.
This is simply serving others. Ministry means service.
This means efficient, serviceable, operative available for useful work, having power to produce desired result.
This is standing in gap for someone’s need. It is travailing or agonizing in prayer. Our Lord Jesus is the perfect example (Heb. 5:7). It is not easy, it is a sacrifice. The Greek word “Entugchano” to Pray, entreat for anyone. This leads to the question who is an intercessor? The Hebrew word used in Isa. 59:16 “Paga” meaning to encounter, to meet, entreat, reach or make intercession, to interpose or attack. Sometimes intercession involves violence. Consequently an intercessor is an unseen warrior, who fights battle in the background on behalf of people.