My prayer is that our churches would be praying churches who find that the prayer meeting is the best meeting and weekly highlight for the congregation.
While I was thinking about this entry I initially thought I’d write about all the ways that prayer meetings get killed. And, maybe someday I’ll tell you what prayer meeting killers I’ve encountered (and used); but there are fewer good ideas about how to keep a prayer meeting fun and sweet.
On ramps are a way of understanding quickly what is going on. When a prayer meeting has good on ramps, more people are praying, there are fewer spectators and more participants. Obviously the on ramps will challenge some of our experiences and practices but in the long term, even in the short term, we’ll find prayer meetings an enjoyable experience.
1. Start and end in worship
I’m amazed at how quickly I run out of words to describe my love and enjoyment of God. I can talk abot my bike or a hockey game for hours but after 30 seconds, I run out of words, “Jesus, you’re great, you’re awesome, you’re beautiful, I love you, you’re great, you’re beautiful…”. Bother, and I’ve spent years trying to get better at speaking.
Worship, with music, is a great way to get language for worship. The psalms help too. If you don’t have a musician, play a worship album. Don’t shorten this unnecessarily – the Lord wants to be worshiped, it’s not a waste of time to tell the Lord how great he is. It’s not a waste of time to tell the One you love, how you love Him. Many times, if I only have an hour to pray, we never get to praying for others, we just stay in worship. The result is wonderful confidence and peace. I leave praying hopeful and confident prayers.
2. Use short scriptures as your start
Reading 2-5 verses is all you need to capture everyone in the objective of this prayer. For example, this week I was praying for healing in someone and I read Exodus 15
saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.” And we asked the Lord to show himself as healer. We reminded God and each other that it was his idea, not ours, that he would be our healer. Then, my friend could take that scripture and continue to meditate and agree with the Lord in prayer.
3. Listen and agree
It’s very helpful if we’ve agreed to agree. It’s not helpful if I’m praying “Lord, open him up” and you’re praying, “Jesus, close him in”.
I like to get agreement before we pray. “Let’s pray for police officers in our city, that they would act justly and with integrity.” Then, as we pray, when one person has finished, don’t move to the next topic – agree and stay in the place of agreement. Don’t move on until it’s time. Better to agree on one thing than to machine gun a whole lot of topics with no agreement.
4. Stay on topic
This is the best tip for agreeing. 3 people praying together can easily stay on 1 specific topic for 5, 10 even 20 minutes. It might require shorter prayers and eyes open but if the goal is to agree together and with the Lord, it’s not too much to discipline yourselves and give grace to pull each other back into the topic.
5. Start on time!
Don’t wait for everyone to get there and don’t start with conversation. My best trick for starting a prayer meeting on time is to start 5 minutes early. If I start singing at 12:55, my 1:00 prayer meeting has a rolling start.
People come to prayer meetings to pray. There are places that are better suited to coffee drinking or catching up on news. Imagine then that heavenly worship already began and that you’re just joining in. Now give that experience to you’re fellow worshipers and intercessors, by starting on time (early).
The last bit of advice is to start praying. Make mistakes, have terrible meetings and keep going. Encourage each other that the point is not to get God to do what we want but to get us to be what he wants.