Corporate mid-week prayer meetings and Sunday morning pastoral prayers have gone the way of hymnals and pews. It isn’t that we are opposed to corporate prayer or pastoral prayer as a part of worship; it seems that we have just “moved on” from some old traditions. There are likely numerous reasons for the demise of corporate prayer meetings but the simple answer is that people stopped attending. There was once a pattern in the evangelical church. If there were 100 in attendance on Sunday morning, one could expect approximately 50 on Sunday evening and about 1/3 of the Sunday morning attendance on Wednesday for the Bible Study/Prayer meeting.
The chatter in pastors’ circles was that people were simply not interested in or committed to prayer. Could it be that we simply allowed prayer meetings to become boring? What would happen if we spent as much time in prayer and planning for a prayer meeting as we do for a sermon? Just as we expect the Holy Spirit to teach us how to communicate the truth from a particular passage of Scripture on Sunday morning, could He also teach us how to lead our people in prayer?
The prayer that Jesus taught His disciples is interesting in that it begins with God and His Kingdom. Many prayer meetings begin with our needs and our comfort. There is a different energy when our attention is focused first on God. There is a place for prayer requests but prayer that begins with God will change how we pray.
Perhaps we need to rethink prayer. Prayer is as much worship as it is request. If we only think of prayer in terms of requests and intercessions, prayer will become laborious and even boring and we will have missed so much of what God wants to say to us. Perhaps it is because we think of prayer primarily as requests that many have abandoned or at least minimized prayer in worship. The Psalms are prayers – many of which have no requests. They are expressions of praise and affirmation for the work of God in our lives. Prayer in worship is a powerful way for us to express what God has done for us. It is also a way to model prayer for people in the pew.
If churches are to be houses of prayer as Jesus intended, pastors will need to take the lead. If pastors do not champion prayer, prioritize prayer, and model prayer, the church will not likely get it. What pastors champion sets the tone for the culture of the church.
There is help. Daniel Henderson has led his church to be a house of prayer and has taught thousands of pastors around the country in how to lead effective, worship-based prayer.
The PRAYER AWAKENING CONFERENCE being hosted at Bethel College September 30 and October 1 will be inspirational, instructional, and prayerfully transformational. Pastors, church elders, board members, and prayer leaders should plan to attend. Registration is free! Register at https://www.mcusa.org/prayerawakening/
THEME FOR THE CONFERENCE: “Worship-Based Prayer: Pathway to Transformation”
– “How Everything Changes When You Seek God’s Face”
– “When God Starts the Conversation”
– “Worship-Based Prayer: The Fuel of Mission”
– “Transforming Church Culture One Heart at a Time”
– “Leading Transformational Prayer Experiences”