Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
In most churches in the western world, only a small fraction of believers participate in expressions of corporate prayer. This is a sad statement, and it is the reason why the American church is virtually powerless.
One of the most significant reasons why many do not participate is that corporate prayer in most churches is not corporate prayer, but personal prayer done in a group. By that I mean, usually everyone brings their own prayer practices into the larger group. This can make the prayer time dull and frustrating for many participants.
Here are two personal prayer practices that hinder true corporate prayer:
1. Long Prayers that Remember Everything. Many people forget that they are praying with others. When they launch into prayer, they pray as long as they would if at home (5 to 15 minutes or more) and remember everything on the prayer list. So the prayer time becomes only four or five people filling the hour, each praying a long prayer that goes over everything again. This group can never grow because there isn’t time for more people to pray. It also is intimidating to newer believers who aren’t used to praying long prayers. Powerful corporate prayer should cover one topic at a time and people praying only about that theme.
2. My Agenda Should Be Your Agenda. Many prayer groups are killed by people who refuse to accept that the group is to focus on a specific prayer topic (for example: community transformation). Those people bring up what they would pray for in their own prayer time, the things that are on their own hearts, their cousin’s health need, a missionary they support, etc. In most prayer groups, the leader doesn’t stop this, thinking it would be cruel not to pray for whatever is brought up. But this weakens the group dynamic and says that everyone’s agenda is more important than that of the church leader who is given the responsibility of leading the prayer group. I have watched many prayer groups start well, only to eventually die out because they reverted to being a session to pray for everyone’s agendas.
If a church wants to see a weekly corporate prayer time grow, it may very well need to address this issue. Is your group struggling because your prayer times are dominated by personal prayer practices rather than corporate ones?
-Jonathan Graf is the president of the Church Prayer Leaders Network. His desire is to see churches become prayer-based. He is available for prayer weekends and consulting with your leadership team. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.