10 Ways to Grow a Church Prayer Meeting

Many of the great movements of God throughout church history have begun with people praying for God to move in a mighty way. We desperately need this kind of movement, but our North American churches often have few real prayer meetings. I encourage you to establish a prayer meeting time, and then challenge your members to get involved.   

  1. Don’t give up before you ever get started. It’s not easy to grow a prayer meeting. It’s hard work, and it’s usually slow. Other churches have given up on it. I understand all of these reasons, but I also understand that we’ll not see much happen if we’re not praying. It’s the enemy who wants us to give up on corporate prayer.
  2. Ask God to do what it takes to make you a genuinely praying leader. That’s a scary prayer (for only God knows what He must do to get us there), but we leaders who don’t pray privately have little room to complain about members who don’t show up to pray.
  3. Rejoice over the few. I’ve not seen many prayer meetings that begin with large numbers. If you’re easily disappointed by small numbers, you’ll miss an opportunity to grow a prayer meeting. Thank God for the few who come, and start the growth there.
  4. Enlist someone to oversee the church’s prayer ministry. When no one is taking the lead in prayer, prayer seldom gets done well. Prayerfully find someone to help you grow the prayer ministry.
  5. Expect – even require – staff to be a part of the prayer meeting. I realize they may have other responsibilities during the prayer time, but some are likely available. If so, they send the wrong message if they skip a prayer meeting.
  6. Enlist a prayer liaison for every small group. You need that kind of liaison anyway to keep informed about prayer needs, but having that position will also provide folks who know why prayer meetings matter. They’re more likely to attend, and they can bring others.
  7. Teach about prayer in the meeting, and then pray. Many believers don’t pray well because no one has taught them to pray. Use this time both to teach and to model how to pray, and be sure to let folks know that they’ll learn how to pray as they pray. 
  8. Actually pray during the meeting. For many churches, a “prayer meeting” is actually something else + a little prayer. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you might increase your participation by actually making it a prayer meeting.
  9. Set aside times to pray specifically for the church’s students and children. They deserve our prayer, especially as we challenge them to follow God in a messed-up world. Intentionally pray for them, and encourage parents and grandparents to join you.
  10. Tell stories of answered prayers. Write them in the church newsletter. Celebrate them on the website. With permission, use them as illustrations in sermons and lessons. If your folks hear about the power of prayer more, they’ll want to be a part.

What other ideas would you add? What have you seen work? 

13 Comments

  • I especially like #8. Before going into ministry, I was part of a weekly prayer meeting. We did pray, but the first half hour to forty-five minutes was just visiting and chatting with each other. There is nothing wrong with that but it would have been nice to have it after the prayer. Every week I questioned why would even be there.

  • Shae says:

    Thanks for this timely article. i have been burdened about the lack of prayer in my own life and in my church for the past few years.

    My first attempt at a corporate call to prayer was very disappointing and I haven’t done it again since. We had about 7 people show up on a Saturday morning, and I think only one of our deacons bothered to come. “People can pray at home” was the excuse I was given in defense of folks who didn’t come. (I would love to know how many people actually did pray at home.)

    Outside of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, I have never heard of a church with a real prayer ministry. The American church is too smart/prideful to believe that we need God’s guidance or advice.

    Corrie ten Boom said if you want to work for God, get a committee. If you want to work with God, hold a prayer meeting.

  • A great resource is Daniel Henderson’s Old Paths, New Power: Awakening Your Church through Prayer and the Ministry of the Word (Moody, 2016). Daniel leads Strategic Renewal (strategicrenewal.com) and 6:4 Fellowship (64fellowship.com) I found his prayer coaching network very helpful for leading the church to pray. Several great examples of churches who are creating a prayer culture. Recent video interview with Vance Pittman was excellent.

  • Caution Chidanguro says:

    Thank you so much Chuck. With your permission I would use your suggested strategies for my church prayer ministry. Have felt out of depth and sometimes disappointed due to poor turnout for prayer meetings but I am encouraged by your strategies. I am not experienced much so I am grateful. May God bless you.

  • Bryan Blackwell says:

    Dr. Lawless,
    Thank you for the article. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on helping a church grow in prayer overall? I know prayer meetings are part of that equation, but what else?

  • Brad Les says:

    Dr. Lawless,
    Thank you for this article. Most of the Wednesday night meetings I’ve witnessed include prayer requests and corporate prayer with the majority of time spent in Bible Study. I often hear the term prayer meeting and wonder how this should be structured? Do you have any resources on the format of an old fashioned prayer meeting? What did this look like many years ago? Thank you!

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