Motivating Church Groups to Pray
By Jill Briscoe
Some of the most boring times of my Christian life have been spent in church prayer meetings. Some of the funniest times of my Christian life have been spent in church prayer meetings¾and some of the most blessed times. What makes the difference? What ingredients are needed to turn a prayer meeting from a bane into a blessing?
First of all, we have to learn to deal with Mrs. Mumbler. Her head is down, and her words are shooting straight into the carpet. All of us are nearly falling off our chairs in an effort to hear.
There is only one way out of this. As the leader of the group, tell everyone (looking straight at Mrs. Mumbler) that we will keep our heads up to pray, speak loud enough for all to hear, and if anyone prays too softly, you will stop the person praying and ask for more volume.
Next, you may have a Mr. Got-to-tell-you-all-I-know in the group. This is a man who can’t wait to impart his Scriptural knowledge to the people in the prayer meeting. We trace the journeys of the Children of Israel through the wilderness into the Promised Land; listen to the various prophets (were there really that many?) thunder their exhortations, and finish up with a quick survey of the New Testament theology. When he eventually stops, everyone is so stunned there is a loud silence, which he mistakes for appreciation!
Then there is Miss Steal-everything-there-is-to-pray-about-before-you-get-a-turn. This young lady really is a menace. Miss Steal-everything starts. She uses up every item on the prayer list and ends with a triumphant, “So, Lord, continue with us as we pray on.” Little Miss Frightened-out-of-her-mind is sitting next to her, and of course, is left with absolutely nothing to pray for. She has sat there in horror as item after item was used up, her mind frantically trying to think of some other petition.
Then you have Mrs. Can’t-wait-to-tell-you-all-the-juicy-gossip-I-can’t-tell-you-with-my-eyes-open! This is an obnoxious lady who uses the public prayer meeting to pass on juicy news, all under the disguise of praying for poor so-and-so.
Now this has to be stopped. The public prayer meeting was never intended to be a place to reveal private scandals.
Then there is Mr. Correct-your-prayer-partner. He is the one who listens to a “starter prayer” and feels it his duty to catch the prayer in midair, sort it out, and deliver it as he knows it was intended to the Almighty!
The leaders should pray about all of theses problems, be brave enough to approach the offenders in love and talk with them, and also plan a variety of prayer meetings using different formats to encourage new pray-ers and curtail long ones. A planned format is a helpful way to correct many of these problems.
Not long ago, several of us made a list of the do’s and don’ts to be observed in a prayer meeting. Working in pairs, we simply planned a half-hour prayer meeting for our church. The following plan for praying for our church was a result of our committee’s work.
How to Pray for the Church
To inform group members of our class about the needs of the church, we invited several ministry leaders to come and share their needs with the people. Dividing the large group into smaller units, we put a ministry leader with each group for fifteen minutes. For five minutes they prayed about those requests. We had a tremendous response to this. The ministry leaders were delighted, and the group members were thrilled the very next week to hear about the answers to their prayers.
As an example, our maintenance head, had been asked to share his problems, and he communicated the need for a student helper to clean the church building in the evenings. They had tried for weeks to find one, but had not been successful. The little group prayed, and the next week the maintenance man returned to ask if he could share the results. Two students had applied for the job that very week, and they had employed the one who appeared most suitable!
Here are some other people from your church that you might invite to join you in a prayer time:
- Nursery Coordinator
- Maintenance Person
- Deacon or Elder
- Office Personnel
- Sunday School Superintendent
- Youth Leader
- Church Finance Committee Member
- Sound System Technician
- Tape Ministry Representative
- Missions Committee Representative
This is just one of the ideas our group came up with. Maybe you can put some formats together, too. You could collect them, place them in a file, and recruit leaders who would use them in your church prayer meetings. With a little effort and creativity, you can turn your prayer meetings into blessings.