How to build a better “altar worker” prayer team (Updated and expanded)

A pastor friend asked me how I would improve a prayer team during his services. Here are some thoughts to get you thinking and praying about this team. Pray about what God wants in your culture. Even if you already have a prayer team maybe one of these questions will help you think of areas for improvement.

  1. Why have a prayer team for your services?

Prayer teams can be a powerful point of contact for people with needs. If presented as such, they can also be models of praying for each others to inspire others to pray for each other. Importantly miracles can happen with these teams. Think about the culture God is having you build and how this team would fit with the overall vision. One piece of warning is to be careful on the language you use when introduce this group because you don’t want to create the impression that only certain people can pray. Instead this is a group that have been trained for this setting.

2. Who should be on this prayer team?

This is one of the most important questions when putting together a team like this. Some ideas would be:

  1. Specifically pick a group to be on the team.
  2. You could say that the deacons or elders are automatically the team. This can be great to “call for the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil” (James 5)
  3. You could use your small group leaders or whatever structure you use like that in your church.

Clarifying that the team has been designated for this assignment will help build confidence in the congregation that they can feel safe coming to this group.

3. When in the service should they be used?

If you already have a team simply changing when they are available could bring new life. Two main places I have seen a team like this used is: During the response time at the end of a message and during the singing. Before the singing simply say something like, “Our prayer team will be available during this time if you have a need.”

4. Where should they be?

Most people use the front of the sanctuary for this, but there is no hard rule. Think about your room. Maybe you have space at the back. Even if you use the front you might want to choose one side in case people want to use the other side for personal prayer.

5. What will they pray for?

You may simply have them available for whatever needs people have. You may use them for specific response to your message or be for a specific theme each week like healing or salvation.

6. How will they pray?

I did a specific video teaching on How to Pray for Someone that you could use to train your team in praying with people. A couple of specific thoughts for a service setting: prepare your team for very heavy needs and I have found discernment is key in praying in these situations. Also you will want to give some instruction on how long they should be praying. Again this is something that you can determine in advance or when you call them to their spot say something like, “Our prayer team will be available and we expect a lot of people coming for prayer today so they may be praying shorter prayers.”

So hopefully this will give you some thoughts to get started. What could you do to improve or start and altar worker prayer team?

Related Articles:

Ready to go beyond the blog?

Get our Christ Connection newsletter and get the latest news, updates, and encouragement.

Posted in Leading prayer.