Do you find prayer meetings a struggle? Recently we felt at Orchard that prayer was an area that we wanted to grow in. Prayer in our services is great but most people don’t come to prayer meetings and I’m pretty sure that we are not the only church that has this experience.
So I guess that in many churches, the minister would preach on prayer and then lean on and pressure people to come to the prayer meeting. We try to run a guilt free church at Orchard and so I am uncomfortable with this approach. I had been considering how we can help people to see the benefits of prayer but the end measure was still the same, how many people could we get to the prayer meeting at the end. Our prayer meetings are run in all kinds of creative ways and the people who come often say how helpful our times together have been.
As we discussed growing in prayer as a leadership team we came up with a different approach which has become known as Prayer Wednesdays.
1. Every Wednesday we circulate a prayer focus sheet via e-mail and Facebook.
2. The homegroups that already meet on Wednesday evenings will use it and we have also started a morning prayer meeting as well.
3. If people can’t make it to pray at one of our organized gatherings then they can pray through the items knowing that they are still praying with the rest of us. People can even meet in a two or a three to pray if they would like to.
I have had really good feedback from people who find it difficult to get to meetings at the church building in the evenings. We leaders can assume that if people don’t come to our? prayer meetings that they don’t want to pray. If we have this attitude then we need to ask for God’s forgiveness for judging his people. We are discovering that people are praying and that some people are saying that they like the idea of being able to pray in a united way even though they may not be able to make any gathered meeting.
The Prayer Wednesdays e-mail follows a simple pattern:
Focus on God
Sample content: The prayer Jesus taught his disciples begins, ‘Our Father in heaven, holy is your name’. Take a few moments to think about God as your father and God as the holy one in heaven. What do these things mean to you?
Think about who God is (if it helps, write some thoughts down) and thank him for who he is.
Focus on Others – Thanksgiving
Examples of answers to prayer and encouragement.
Focus on Others – Calling on God to act in power
Examples of situations that require prayer
Listening to God
Ask God if there is anything he wants to show you and take a few moments to listen.
Sample content: The Bible says that we should pour out our hearts to God. Take some time to give God the things that you are troubled about. As get our stress and worries out, we are make more space in our lives for the Holy Spirit and we can invite him in afresh.
The beauty of this approach is that we are engaging people in prayer rather than trying to make them feel guilty for not turning up to an organized prayer meeting. Someone has suggested that we need to make prayer for our leaders a regular feature, what an encouragement!!
As we pray in a united way on Prayer Wednesdays I hope that those of us who are able to will become more motivated to pray together or to communicate in others ways about prayer. I am really encouraged that we are discovering a way to help to equip people to pray in their everyday lives rather than just equipping them to pray in meetings. After all, the Kingdom of God doesn’t revolve around meetings in church buildings does it?