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Tonight at dinner at the Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference (Eldridge, Iowa), I heard a neat idea for church or group prayer that I think both honors the God who knows our hearts and also encourages people to pray who would normally not participate in any group or public prayer setting.

The church we were discussing had a practice, during their weekly worship service, of having a time for prayer in which they invited the congregation to come forward and simply name someone for whom they were praying.  The church lifted that person up in prayer simply by repeating their name together, trusting that God knew all the details He needed and that agreeing together for His best for that person.

The person relaying this story to me was impressed by how many people participated in this prayer time, and we discussed together how this type of prayer might encourage participation from those who are too shy to try to construct prayers in a group setting.  We all know that can be an intimidating setting, especially when people don't pray effectively as a group (praying way too long, using flowery language, trying to impress others with their knowledge of Scripture, etc.).  I fell in love with this idea instantly and can't wait to try it when I get back home.

Obviously, this type of prayer isn't the only way we should be praying togehter, but I'm intrigued by the potential for inviting more participation by creating a less threatening environment for prayer.  I also like the idea of taking ourselves and our preconceived notions out of the mix and inviting more of God in, simply trusting Him to do what He knows is needed in a given situation.  So often we try to prescribe for God how He should respond to a situation or how He should meet a particular need in a person's life.  I like this idea as a way to give over total control to Him.

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Comment by Catherine Gray on April 17, 2011 at 12:27pm
You're absolutely right, Mr Wheeler! I, too,  believe we should invite more of God by trusting Him to do what He knows is needed in every situation and that often we do 'try to prescribe for God how He should respond to a situation or how He should meet a particular need in a person's life."  He knows what a person needs better than anyone else and IS far more than able to remedy any situation in a person's life.  I believe as responsible Christians, uniting ourselves in prayer, we must give over total control to Him.
Comment by sonia Hernandez-Rodriguez on April 14, 2011 at 1:21pm
I think that is a great idea!!!!
Comment by Dennis Conner on April 12, 2011 at 12:11pm

What a unique idea to use this format as an "on-ramp" for those with whom God wants to encourage them in the biblical pathway of Corporate praying "in agreement" (Matt. 18:19); an excellent "First Step"! Just another thought, as a possible means of variation...while expanding the corporate-praying "comfort zone" of the folks:

     1. Add the word--after calling out the person's name--"Amen"!! (Because that word means "so be it" with God's plan). Thus, you are teaching that we are not only praying "in agreement" with one another, but also "in agreement" that God will hear and answer...in accordance with that which will glorify (Hallow) His Name!

     2. Next, add to the calling out of the person's name, the words: "In Jesus Name". (Because that teaches the people that we do not come in our own name, but "with total dependence" on Jesus Christ to hear and answer our prayers!)

So...for the sake of variety in format (not the same-o, same-o every time) and for growth in the people coming to better understand what "Prayer" is all about (Him, not us) and expanding their own "comfort zone" in public praying. why not start with the One-word prayer format, then expand it to a Two-word, then expand it to a Three-word approach. From there, the Holy Spirit will prompt the next step.

Comment by David Hobbs on April 11, 2011 at 9:08pm
Sounds like a great idea. When we try to pray over somerone's needs without the Holy Spirit, we often pray according to our natural mind's thinking, which may not be what God is doing in their life. Just praying their name leaves the Holy Spirit free to do what He knows needs to be done (and it might be something we would never pray for [like "Make it even harder for them Lord, until they break and surrender all their life to You!"]).
Comment by Elaine on April 11, 2011 at 4:01pm
I think this makes the prayer more concrete in my mind.  It enters the mind through the ears and voice (and I usually write things down, so there's one more) which I believe brings it quicker to the heart when praying at other times. - Super idea!  I would definitely agree with the first name only or maybe even initials.
Comment by Mae Steward on April 11, 2011 at 11:59am

I like this idea of one word prayer, this way everyone can feel confortable.  I "hear"  and appreciate the comments and concerns.  This is an idea I will use within my mentoring groups. 

Thanks very much.

Mae  

Comment by Elaine Helms on April 10, 2011 at 7:47pm
This sounds like another great entry point for church members to pray in worship and for others. I agree that the benefits outweigh the concerns.
Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on April 9, 2011 at 8:56pm
The way I heard that this was addressed was that only first names were used.  While I'd admit that that still leaves some room for speculation in congregations prone to that, I think on balance the benefits outweigh the concerns as long as last names are not used.  There was no indication given as to whether the people were members of the congregation or not, so even in congregations where only one person had a given first name, it would be only speculation and gossip to tie a request to any particular individual.
Comment by Nancy Hull on April 9, 2011 at 11:54am

I would be very careful with this. It is important to make sure everyone present respects confidentiality. If you have a few people in your church who tend to gossip, and what church doesn't, this could be harmful.

I thought we had our PrayerList trained to not ask prayer for anyone outside their family by name without the person's or immediate family's permission, but someone did put it on our email List and it caused anger and hurt feelings in a family from a church of another denomination.

I'm not saying not to pray for people without their permission, but not to ask prayer in a larger group setting.

At a women's prayer event at our church we lifted the names of family members who did not yet know Christ, but limited it to family. Sometimes the women would only say, "my cousin from another town" so as not to have people trying to figure out who they were talking about. That was very powerful as it felt to me as if the Holy Spirit was receiving the names from us as we spoke them.

Comment by Patty Prince on April 9, 2011 at 11:12am

Amazing! I love this idea especially for those that hesitate to pray because they feel uncomfortable doing so. One word. How simple yet effective. Thanks for sharing, Andrew.

Blessings,

Patty

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