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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?