Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
I attend a United Methodist Church and have tried to get a prayer ministry going for over four years, without much response. It is so frustrating to have comments like "God knows I have the problem and if he wants to heal it he will." There seems to be a lack of interest in prayer and knowing many of the needs in the congregation it is sad to see people not seeking God's intervention. The so-called prayer chain is broken, requests that do come in get bogged down, with the exception of the email prayer chain, which I am in charge of, when a prayer request comes in I immediately put it out, but no response from either those on the chain or, most often, even from the one that requests it. I would really appreciate your insight.
I also belong to a mainline denominational church that sounds very much like yours. We had left this denomination years ago and returned now that the pastor is an Evangelical Bible-based pastor. I felt the Lord calling me to start a prayer ministry there. We started by using Jim Cymbala's 6 week DVD series, "When God's People Pray". It was amazing! The series is fresh and alive and motivating and brings people to a point of longing to know how to pray. The videos are powerful, the teaching is right on. It is done in an easy-to-lead format. That was the beginning of our prayer ministry (March 2010). We've run it twice more since, each time brings another 1-2 people to the prayer team. The pastor's vision is that our church truely be a "house of prayer" and he has led the way with a 6 week sermon series, incorporating others to pray during the service, and continues to be visionary in this. The first video series landed us 5 devout prayer warriors. We still meet every Tues. PM for prayer. We have a "Prayer that Binds Generations" -- one member praying daily for 1 student during the school year (an idea I got from Pray! Network, and we have a Pastor's Prayer Partners who pray daily for our pastor. In summary, starting with the video series has gotten it off the ground and we continue to use it in small groups to bring people along in prayer. The mainline churches desperately need this. I will join the others in praying for you and this ministry. Blessings, billie
Do We really Pray in Our Churches?
Thom Rainer -
I sometimes wish I could have been there.
The new church at Jerusalem was in its infancy. There was an unmistakable excitement and anticipation among the believers. They began to gather together as a body shortly after Peter preached his message at Pentecost. Luke describes their actions in succinct phrases: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers" (Acts 2:42, HCSB). I wish I could have been there to see it.
A desire to know
You see, I have this curiosity about how they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and, especially "to the prayers."
What did the gathered church actually do to be so devoted to a ministry of prayer? What forms did it take? Just how did they come together as a group to pray?
I suppose we are not given those details in the Bible because the way they came together to pray is not as important as the mere fact that they did pray together. The early believers obviously did not just pray; they devoted themselves to prayer.
Where have all the praying churches gone?
In one of my early research projects on American churches, I discovered that the most evangelistic churches placed a strong emphasis on corporate prayer. Those churches did not simply depend on the latest evangelistic program to reach their communities. They prayed in earnest for others’ salvation while offering many other intercessory needs.
As my research continued through the years, I noted that same consistency: healthy churches emphasized prayer as a vital part of their corporate life. Like the early church at Jerusalem, they devoted themselves to prayer.
However, I also noticed in my research that the decline in churches across America has been commensurate with the decline in corporate prayer. For many churches, a time of prayer is limited to one or two people voicing a public prayer during worship services. There is no intent to involve all the people in prayer.
Other churches have declared that they will have a prayer meeting one evening a week, with many churches choosing Wednesday evening. Sadly, most of those churches only have a list of those with physical needs and perhaps the name of a few missionaries. The list is hurriedly prayed over so the small number of people at the meeting can get to "more important" activities.
Where have all the praying churches gone?
A call to devoted prayer
As the role of corporate prayer has diminished in churches, so has their outward focus. Not surprisingly, members begin to care more about their own needs than the lost and hurting in their community. Some churches have major conflicts over music styles, times of worship, colors of carpet, and other issues because many of the members see the primary role of their church as meeting their needs.
When churches stop praying together, churches cease to be healthy.
Perhaps you are like me and would like to know just how the early church came together to pray. If we knew their methodology, then we could replicate the pattern in our church.
But the Bible is silent on how to do corporate prayer.
Yet there is no doubt we are to pray when we gather. In fact, we are to devote ourselves to prayer.
I am often asked by church leaders for suggestions to help their churches become healthier, reverse their decline, or get church members focused on what really matters. I do not have a lot of the answers, but in this case I have one: Call the people to pray together. Call them to devote themselves to prayer.
Then, and perhaps only then, will God do a great work among His people.
Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is also a former pastor, seminary dean, and leader of a church and denominational consulting firm. Rainer is the author or co-author of 22 books, including his latest, Transformational Church.
This is my first post here on the website. My wife and I have just accepted the role as the first "prayer coordinators" at our church. We have had a few meetings with our minister and are very excited. I am sure we will face this challenge being discussed.
thanks for sharing your insights.
Great JOhn - what an important role!
Look over the groups and discussions - much here on the network to help you.
Let me know if I can help you navigate the site,
Pray! Community Coordiantor
That's why we have this network! God is not limited by time or place and my prayer partners and I try to discuss the problems minimally and if one is not available we leave the prayer on voicemail. If we are faithful with 2 or 3, God will add; no He will mulitply because God is the God of more than enough! If we are faithful with the little, we will be faithful over much! It's not about the number-God can save with many or few! The books I'm reading now are Prayer:Conversation with God by Rosalind Rinker and What Happens When Women Pray by Evelyn Christneson and Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets. it doesn't matter what name is on any or our church buildings, God is moving on hearts to pray-and as this world grows darker it is certain more will be driven to our knees. So let us not be weary in well doing....Bless you!
I am also a somewhat new prayer coordinator in a church which hasn't had much of a prayer ministry at all. Things didn't start with me, however. Our former pastor's wife, started a weekly prayer meeting at our church many years ago. Two or three of us have been praying for a few years for our church's spiritual growth and its people. It does help when the Pastor believes in the importance of prayer as well.
I also send around prayer requests via email and then someone makes a few phone calls to those who don't use email. Each week, I try to check with those requests which have been on the list for a long time so that we are still praying for the right thing and that our prayers haven't already been answered. It also helps the requester be reminded that we are praying for them. There have been times that it has sparked some interesting spiritual conversations as well.