During July of every year, I tune in to the Tour de France.
From the time I first started watching the Tour in the mid-to-late ’90’s, I’ve been amazed at what these cyclists do. They are on the bike every day for over three weeks (including 2 “rest days” when they are STILL on the bike!). They regularly ride distances of over 160 km per day. They climb incredibly steep mountain passes. They “time-trial” despite the weather. And, while they may need to consume over 8,000 calories a day, on average, a rider will lose 20-25 during the race. All of this is just during the race; nothing like this happens without a lot of training — physical, mental and, I imagine, spiritual (of a sort).
The race can be incredibly difficult and dangerous for cyclists to navigate on their own, so the main riders usually combine to form what is called a peloton – an aerodynamic V-shaped group like a flock of birds being the main group of riders in the race. The peloton is a very important part of long distance racing because cyclists in a peloton can save a tremendous amount of energy by riding close together. The riders group together for the primary purpose of saving energy so they will be strong to the finish. The reduction in wind resistance, or drag, is dramatic with riders in the middle of the pack saving up to 40% of their energy. Conserving energy by sticking together is the only way for a racer to survive the brutal physical strain of a Tour de France – the metabolic equivalent of running 21 marathons in 23 days.
The Peloton Principle – racing together saves energy and increases performance – is a great metaphor for understanding the benefits for a team ministry of intercession. Here is what I have learned from the Peloton:
We need to become a Team of Intercessors. Each cycling team in the Tour has 9 members. Each member has his own unique strengths and weaknesses. Some are sprinters, some are climbers, and some are “domestiques,” who works for the benefit of his team and leader. In French,domestique translates as “servant”.
It’ is important in intercession to know the gifts and talents of each team members–for the good of the team. Every single team member should have a role.
A Team needs time to develop. Our work is not finished once we form a team. Cycling teams spend lots of time on the road practicing for all kinds of different situations during events. One learns, when watching the Tour, that all of the riders on a team have specific roles to support the overall goal of the team.
As we pray together using our intercession gifts and roles, our teamwork will become stronger and stronger.
A business person doesn’t just need an intercessor gifted to pray for finances only, they need a mix of intercessors anointed to pray for their family’s safety, for personal integrity, for removing spiritual and natural obstacles, for God’s kingdom to reign throughout their business decisions, each leader requires a unique mix of intercessors, according to which mountain they are climbing and what their unique circumstance is
A Team has a defined strategy. Were it not for the specific type of support the leader received during the race, he might not have the opportunity to make the strategic decisions on when to attack on a climb or when other riders are in difficulty and gain that winning advantage.
It is no different in my attempt to scale the mountains I have had to face and the mountains that the Lord is placing on my heart to conquer.
Despite God-given talents I need the support of prayer warriors who will under gird me in the spirit and push further than I could ever venture alone. We each need to be covered specifically to our needs. Just as the team leader would not succeed by himself in the race, we too may fail with the support of one type of intercessor.
A Team speaks the truth in love. Cycling team members must get really good at real, transparent communication with one another. They know that to get better as individuals and as a team, they must be able to say “my fault” or correct other riders.
A Team has fun together. Injury now prevents me from cycling. I use to love cycling in a group: riding together, taking turns at the front, talking about life as we roll along, and helping one another when bikes or bodies break down. There was a sense of community on these rides. I will still love the sport and will look forward each year to the Tour de France.
Praying together on purpose is fun. Those God moments when we discover God’s leading, God Word and as team we share in the joys, the victories of answered prayer, warring to open heaven to invade earth, but also sensitive in those times when we need to walk beside and uphold fellow intercessors on their own personal journey.
We are much better together. We are designed to work together as a team, to bear one another’s burdens, and to push each other to do great things. When we are united by the love of Jesus and our mission to share His truth with others, we accomplish much more than we could on our own.
Sounds like a great way to compete and to pray!