Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
How does your church do prayer meetings?
This discussion is for sharing ideas and encouragement regarding the prayer meetings at our churches. Our churches are at many different places with regard to prayer and specifically with regard to the prayer meeting. Some churches have strong prayer meetings; others have weaker ones, attended by only a handful of people; other churches have none. Some of us would like to see a prayer meeting start at our church, but don't know how to get it going.
To make this conversation most helpful for everyone, let's stay away from abstracts and "you shoulds". Instead, let's focus on what actually has been done in our churches, what has worked well and what hasn't worked so well.
Note: this topic is specifically about church prayer meetings; we'll post further discussions about the prayer ministry more generally, but please focus your comments on prayer meetings at your church.
Here are a few questions to get the thought juices flowing - but please don't feel restricted to these. Add more questions and "answer" questions that haven't been asked - make this a fruitful discussion for everyone involved!
Andrew, as I am in my sixties now and after decades in the church, I have seen limping prayer times, well-organized ones, dwindling ones, good times when prayer seemed like flames (that always led to people being sent out!) and also bad times when the enemy came in to destroy. But through them all, God kept the fires of intercession going. He is faithful.
Years ago, I have been in a prayer meeting of an overflowing revival church in Cape Town, South Africa when a missions organization had a special event there. It was indescribable - the Presence of God was there. A few months later, that church was attacked by terrorists and several people died and many were wounded. One of my friends was at the church that night during the attack. She was physically unharmed, but needed counselling. Instead of destroying the church's ministry, the attack broke open the needs of our human hearts and the church grew even more. Outsiders were drawn to seek God for themselves and to find forgiveness and safety with God. There were heroes - a young boy fell on a hand grenade that killed him, so that he could protect his younger brother. I still cry when I remember this - the courage of a child that followed in Jesus' footsteps to lay down his life so that someone else may live. Still, there were those who hardened their hearts against God, blaming Him for the enemies' evil work, but most people were touched by it all, even if only for a short time.
Fortunately it doesn't have to be so dramatic. I believe prayer revivals start in the quiet, alone times of individuals who seek God in their personal prayer spaces in solitude. Hannah of the Bible is such an inspiration to me. She prayed with her whole being, not knowing that God would use her anguished prayer as the starting point for revival in Israel through her son Samuel years later. God can do so much with so little when we seek Him and pray with all our hearts!
Some time ago I tried to start a women’s Bible study group among the neigbors who were all members of the same church I attended. I bought a few copies of a very thin Bible study book about prayer, and visited the women individually and presented each one with the booklet. I explained the purpose – a short Bible study for six weeks about prayer, once a week for half an hour. Every time each woman said immediately that she was interested, but I gave them a week to think about it. A week later, all of them returned the Bible study booklet to me with an explanation why she couldn’t attend. They were not really serious about it, and it saved me time and effort to know this. So I turned to children – little girls whose families I knew as they had been neighbors for years. I asked the girls if they would come for six weeks once a week for half an hour to learn how to pray, but they had to ask for permission from their parents first. All the girls received permission and all of them came for all six weeks. I let them pray silently if they were too shy to pray out loud. God met with each one of them and I believe their lives were changed, although we moved away a short time later and I didn’t have contact any more, because God blesses the seeds we sow, even years later.
Some Resources that I know of:
1. There has been a prayer revival at KwaSizabantu mission amongst the Zulu tribe in South Africa for a very long time. Erlo Stegen is a German missionary – the only person whom I know of who speaks English with a Zulu accent! You can listen to him on youtube if you want:
2. The Sentinel Group’s videos:
3. Free book by Mike Bickle of IHOP Kansas City:
4. Books that literally changed my life – by now classics, so you pobably know these already:
* “Is that really You, Lord?” by Loren Cunningham (YWAM)
* “Lord change me”, and * What happens when God answers” and other books by by Evelyn Christenson
Ok, this is a lot - hope you have time! God bless!
Malva, thanks for such inspirational thoughts! It's always wonderful to see how God responds to prayer (although actually, he's not the responder - our prayer is a response to his stirring).
Can you contrast for us some of the characteristics of the well-organized, dynamic prayer meetings and then of the ones that fizzled? What was different between the two types? Was it the way they were led? The people who came? The topics they prayed about? The context of their prayer?
Across the prayer meetings that God blessed, what common elements did you see?
And what common elements in the prayer meetings that dwindled?
Thanks as always for your thoughts!
Andrew to answer your questions - what I’ve seen is this:
*Contrast between dynamic / fizzled prayer meetings: In short: JESUS. Letting Lord Jesus be the Boss every time in everything was the key for the dynamic groups. Fizzled groups didn’t have Jesus at the center at all times.
*Difference between the two types: The meetings that succeeded/bore fruit, were not always perfect, but every time Jesus was allowed to be in control, it was great.
*Way the meetings were led: Leaders of both types were very different in personalities and also the way they did things.
*People who came: When God chose the people and brought them in to pray, it worked. Some people He brought only once, others He brought continually. This did not mean that the people who came were more important / better Christians than others or anything like that.
*Topics: Anything for which people felt a burden/need (both types) - some prayed for the church, others for the country, others for mixed subjects, some for individuals, special needs, and so on. Controversial topics caused trouble.
*Context: Where the Word of God ruled, it worked. When the Holy Spirit pointed out specific Bible verses to pray for every topic/event/need, prayer flowed and answers came.
Blessed groups: Guided by God - where intercessors asked God what He wanted them to pray and how to do it and then did it with His help, it bore fruit. Abundance of Scripture. When leaders had consistent intensive personal prayer times with God in their private prayer closets, the group was blessed. Also group members soaked the leader, other members and the praying, in prayer – huge blessings!
Dwindled groups: Some started off well and even lasted for a while, but there was no real or lasting fruit. Meetings sometimes turned into social gatherings or people had arguments when focus shifted away from God.
Malva, I appreciate your thoughtful answers. I'd like to dive a little deeper.
When you say, "Letting Lord Jesus be the Boss every time in everything was the key for the dynamic groups. Fizzled groups didn’t have Jesus at the center at all times", can you expand on what that looked like. When Jesus was the "Boss" of a prayer meeting, how did that happen? Was it something the leader did to submit the group to Christ? When Jesus wasn't at the center, what do you think was the cause of that?
In other words, what can prayer leaders or prayer meeting members do to help keep Jesus at the center of prayer meetings?