Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Four Prayer Streams
We have been discussing the importance of a disciplined personal prayer life. Yet, there are four prayer streams in the life of the people of God that are critical.
The congregation gathered in and for prayer. Not preaching. Not teaching or training, but in prayer.
Smaller prayer groups. Not the entire congregation gathered, but slices of church life gathered for prayer. For example, at the heart of every ministry and group in the congregation, there should be a developing prayer culture. To isolate prayer by framing it as 'prayer ministry' and placing it there; having youth and children, men and women, singles and seniors, a dozen other ministries here, all undergirded by the prayer ministry there - is fatal error. To assign prayer to a few, even a significant but detached team is to attempt to use prayer as a kind of engine for church ministries, and yet, separate from them. That makes prayer pragmatic, utilitarian, and that is a flawed equation. Every ministry, to be New Testament, is to be humbly dependent on God in prayer. At their heart, must be a culture of God's Presence, of holiness and humility and that necessitates prayer. The goal is to press prayer into the seams of congregational life. If church activities and ministries are to be animated by the breath of God, they must be praying ministries - the Spirit is breath and prayer is breathing.
The family altar. Currently, only 5 to 8 percent of Christian homes have anything resembling a family altar. That must change. If prayer is foreign to daily life, we declare to ourselves and our children, that we have learned to live without family gatherings in which God is at the center of our lives and activities, our daily relationships, in a formal and openly affirming manner. God must not be ignored. Our children, having learned from us to live without engaging God in an intentional manner six days a week, soon forego the seventh - not continuing church attendance as adults. Tozer bluntly declared, "If you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week."
Personal prayer. Daily prayer. Relentless praying. John and Charles Wesley, when traveling together, had the habit of rising early to spend time with God, and then meeting together, often for an hour or more, before they began their day. Spurgeon would rise early for personal prayer, and then gather his family for prayer before they met the day.
Without personal prayer, without family altars, without small groups in which we are all active in prayer, the corporate prayer gathering lacks the roots that cause it to flourish. Yet, without the corporate prayer meeting, that models prayer, that offers teaching prayer experiences that become templates for personal, family and small group praying, the other corollary elements don't develop. Each feeds the other, and none can replace another. They are interdependent. The most conspicuous of the four is the corporate prayer meeting, the congregation gathered for prayer. Without these, church is a ceremony, not a celebration of lives lived out God's Presence.
Welsh pastor, Geoffrey Thomas, asserted, "There is no way that those who neglect secret worship can know communion with God in the public services of the Lord's Day!" D. A. Carson notes, "The person who prays more in public reveals that he is less interested in God's approval than in human praise. Not piety but a reputation for piety is his concern."
We are not to go to church to worship, but to go worshipping - out of a life of worship. The form of corporate worship feeds the informal - confession, praise, offering, preaching, prayer, the reading of the Scriptures, repenting, professing, singing, sharing, the bread and the cup, baptism, the blessing. All these feed the personal, informal daily prayer times; and they in turn, feed the public.
Leave a comment about this post>
This blog is part of The Praying Church Handbook - Volume III - Pastor and the Congregation which can be purchased at alivepublications.org>
Current product special: Unite in prayer for your city! Implement a city prayer movement in your community! City Prayer Movement Resources flash drive includes over 20 resources for just $10.
Give a donation to PROJECT PRAY>
 Geoffrey Thomas, "Worship in Spirit," The Banner of Truth, August-September, 1987, p. 8.
 D. A. Carson, Matthew, Expositor's Bible Commentary, 12 volumes (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 8:165.
Read more blogs by P. Douglas Small>
Milestones - Markers on the Journey Toward Becoming a House of Prayer
The first step in learning to be a house of prayer is – prayer. The congregation needs to gather to pray together. This is not merely people praying in the same room. It is people, the church, praying as one, from the office of the church; and in addition, embracing the discipline of daily, personal prayer.
Simultaneously, a small group of leaders will meet quietly and learn about prayer ministry together. They will ‘do’ prayer and explore models of prayer for the congregation. At first, their learning will be conceptual. Then, practical – exploring other models of congregational prayer. They will complete research on the history of prayer in the congregation and collect data to determine the current level of congregational prayer. They will assess prayer needs in the community, the mission field of the congregation. From such facts, they will develop an informed plan to engage the congregation in a serious pursuit of God’s presence and a spiritual awakening. They will envision the congregation – calling the people to prayer engagement. They will recruit additional leaders to a stable prayer leadership team. The enlarged team will expand the prayer effort, growing all four dimensions of the praying church - the congregational prayer meeting, encouraging the family altar, identifying and mobilizing intercessors, commissioning prayer teams and groups, turning prayer outward onto the community – prayer evangelism. Then, they will work to strengthen the congregation as a house of prayer for the nations.
The depth of the process is found in the fifteen milestones, which are built on the concept of the Seven Markers of a Praying Church, the four dimensions and two cogs that drive the entire process. And they represent a comprehensive vision of how to integrate these principles into the life of a congregation. The milestones are outlined below. Consider purchasing this new resource to provide a roadmap for prayer ministry.
PHASE I – Learning About and Doing Prayer – The Launch (3 Simple Processes)
MILESTONE ONE: Launch a Church-Wide Prayer Meeting
MILESTONE TWO: Develop a Prayer Leadership-Learning Team
MILESTONE THREE: The Personal Prayer Life Challenge
PHASE II – Discovery
MILESTONE FOUR: Research and Discovery
MILESTONE FIVE: Planning – Articulating Vision and Mission, Strategy and Tactics
MILESTONE SIX: Affirming Leaders (Leadership Structuring and Affirmation)
PHASE III – Going Public: Feeding the Prayer Fire and Finding Leaders
MILESTONE SEVEN: Envisioning the Congregation
MILESTONE EIGHT: Church-Wide Enlistment
PHASE IV – Expanding Leadership Teams and Long-Term Planning
MILESTONE NINE: Multiple Leadership Teams
MILESTONE TEN: Diversified Training
PHASE V – Engaging the Four Dimensions
MILESTONE ELEVEN: The Family Altar
MILESTONE TWELVE: Organizing Intercessors
MILESTONE THIRTEEN: Prayer Evangelism
MILESTONE FOURTEEN: Prayer Groups
PHASE VI – Maturing the Praying Church
MILESTONE FIFTEEN – The Prayer Room/Center
PHASE VII – Forever