Prayer Meeting – Dead on Arrival or Deliberate Revival? - No. 30
A study in contrasts: the prayer meeting prior to Pentecost and the drone of a 20 minute prayer, flanked by folk with drooping heads, lazily gazing at the clock and waiting for the final ‘amen.’ The sad truth is that we have allowed the power house of praying together to become a drowsy, dusty exercise. Yet scripture is very clear about praying together, not always praying in solo fashion as we have become accustomed to in the western world.
Modern day miracles from prayer meetings have been reported by Jim Cymbala at the Brooklyn Tabernacle – a church that rose from the power of prayer in the midst of a turbulent urban community.
So what is the number one accusation opposing the prayer meeting? If I took a poll it would be – “it’s boring.” Can you imagine saying that to the Creator? Well, that might be our starting point – the Creator asks us to be creative.
Before we invite people to join us at a prayer meeting, we should take a good look at our prayers offered in corporate worship. People will get their cue of the prayer practices of the congregation by how we pray on Sunday morning. If those prayers are rambling, repetitive or irrelevant then why would anyone spend time praying with us in another setting? If there is little direction in facilitating prayer in worship then why would it be any different at another time? Solution: start with creative prayer in your corporate worship on Sunday morning.
God is Lord of our prayer time. He wants the prayers to be genuine but not nosy. He wants us to stay awake (Col. 4:2) He wants us to be invigorated and vigilant as unto a battle (Eph. 6:18) because these are spiritual warfare frontlines and only targeted strategies will win the battle.
Energized, creative prayer will begin with the Creator’s language; use scripture to be your limitless, inexhaustible guide as you pray (Rom. 8:9-11) – it is God’s answering speech. God wants us to sample deeply of His inventive beauty. Pray prayers that announce His character as led by scripture and teach people to stay on topic, without rambling.
- Pray brief but numerous prayers – the more the people, the shorter the prayers.
- Open prayer by finishing the thoughts begun in scripture, e.g., ‘Jesus, today I am struck by your grace because…..’ Or, ‘Lord, I declare Your Name today because You are Sovereign, Holy, a gentle Shepherd …’
- The less the level of relationship with people within the group, the shorter the prayer.
- Pray loud enough for others to hear. It is the “hearing” part that is important for a number of reasons.
When they hear, they can “agree” with you. Once they agree, they can add to your thoughts, continuing the stream of Spirit led petition.
Jot things down, take notes. Scripture will come to your mind on how to continue to pray. Be active and listen well – listen to those that pray and listen for God’s instruction. God will speak to us if we listen for him. Additionally, people LEARN how to pray with power from people who pray with power! We can only do that if we can hear them pray.
- Pray but don’t gossip/slander – pray for someone who is not in the room as if they were in the room.
- Pray “for” people and not “at” people. Ask the person with the specific request to begin the prayer. While we listen, others may add their agreement without prescribing personal counsel in their prayers.
- Be careful not to force people to participate but have the freedom to actively listen, praying silently.
When our prayer time becomes sweet in worship, we can confidently set up other creative prayer events. We do not need to have our eyes closed or in a particular posture. It might be helpful in keeping us alert by moving around, standing or singing our prayers – this is very helpful in private prayer. Most importantly is to realize that we are in His presence ALWAYS but we only seem to recognize His presence when we pray – like our joined spirits having eye to eye contact and in the splendor of His holiness.
Make a deliberate move to pray together. It will be very explosive and exciting, unnerving some but they will definitely be listening. Once you start, it will leave you wanting more!