“Here is the powerhouse of this church!” Those were the remarks from the great preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, as he spoke of his church’s prayer meeting. Though a dying breed today, successful churches realize the need to draw upon God in prayer for any spiritual success. Therefore if we want God’s power, we must pray not only individually, but also corporately as a church. And when we assemble to pray as a church, we must maximize our time to make it most effective. In part three of this segment, we will review the first ten guidelines from the two previous blogs and then present the final five considerations for a powerful prayer meeting.
1. Show Up.
2. Come Prepared.
3. Be Genuine.
4. Pray Specifically.
5. Don’t Pray About Everything.
6. Pray for the Needs of Others.
7. Pray for the Local Church.
8. Call in Prayer Requests When Possible.
9. Pray Earnestly.
10. Keep the Prayers Going.
11. Avoid Preaching in Your Prayers! More than anything, corporate prayer is a time to bring our requests before the throne of God. Yet I’m sure too many of us have sat through group prayers where there’s a lot of talking, but at the same time very little actual prayer being accomplished. Neither God nor others in the group are overly interested or impressed by the deep theology, related circumstances, lengthy explanations or personal soliloquy behind the requests. Use our time wisely! Please focus on the specific praise or petition! Avoid “many words” (Mt. 6:7)! Use strength, not length!
12. Speak Up! Corporate prayer serves no purposes if the others assembled are unable hear and pray in agreement. Of course we need to be considerate of other prayer groups in close proximity that are sharing the same facility, but understand the balance between not overpowering them and praying loud enough for those in your assembled group to receive and understand your request. One element of the prayer meeting that tends to further this problem is the respectable reality that we pray with our heads down. Therefore a good idea is to raise your head when you pray to better project your voice and then resume a bowed position when you finish. Also be sure to speak slowly and enunciate clearly. Give even those even with hearing impairments the benefit and ability to pray in accordance with you.
13. Praise and Thank God for Answered Prayer! It’s easy to minimize or omit this aspect in corporate prayer meetings (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2). Not only is this a key component in prayer, but it is also an encouragement to see how God is responding in our midst giving us greater confidence and faith for future prayer. Furthermore, we must remember that all things terminate not on a change in circumstance, but on God receiving the glory whether He chooses to change the circumstances or not. Keep God in focus from beginning to end!
14. Pray for the Glory of God! In our primary desire to see God glorified, chalk your prayers full with biblical substance. If we are to pray according to His will, let’s ground our prayers in the stories and statements from His Book, the Bible. Our prayers may include, but must not be limited to the temporary needs of personal comfort (physical healing, superficial trials, etc.). Actually this should only be a small portion of the meeting. Rather we must learn to pray for personal godliness (1 Tim. 4:7), faith in trials (Jas. 1:2), world evangelization (Mt. 28:18-20), exemplary testimonies (Phil. 2:14-16), ongoing joy (Phil. 4:4) self-denial (Mk. 8:34), spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), idol awareness (1 Thes. 1:9), bold gospel articulation (Eph. 6:20), willingness to suffer with Christ (Rom. 8:17), prioritizing love (1 Cor. 13:1-3), thanksgiving in everything (1 Thes. 5:18), personal ministry (Rom. 12:6), sacrificial giving (Mt. 6:19-21), power for the preached Word (2 Thes. 3:1), submission where necessary (Eph. 5:21), biblical worldviews (1 Jn. 2:15-17), filling of the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), repentance (Lk. 13:3), church unity (Eph. 4:3), spiritual wisdom (Col. 1:9), reconciled relationships (Phil. 4:2), perseverance for the saints (Eph. 6:18), spiritual growth (Col. 1:9), doctrinal purity (Tit. 2:7), qualified leadership (1 Thes. 5:12), good works (Mt. 5:16), commitment to the Word (Jos. 1:8) and prayer (1 Thes. 5:17) just to name a few.
15. Keep Your Prayer Short! Possibly few things can suck the life out of a corporate prayer meeting more than long prayers. Long prayers give others in the group the temptation to drift off. Listen to what G. Chewter said, “This is an old, old problem. The spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak. Long prayers often become a weariness to the flesh, making it hard for those listening to spiritually participate and keep up concentration, especially if it is an evening meeting.” Long prayers also exasperate others wanting to pray and discourage others from thinking they should participate. Keep people engaged. Give others the opportunity to pray. Christ’s prayers in public were short. His model prayer was one of brevity (Mt. 6:9-13). Most prayers recorded in the Bible are also brief and to the point. Can anybody put it more bluntly than C.H. Spurgeon? “It is necessary to draw near to God, but it is not required of you to prolong your speech till everyone is longing to hear the word ‘Amen.’”
I am so encouraged by the commitment of our church to the prayer meeting. Let’s pray that even more attend and find the great blessings in this evening. Let’s pray the topics for prayer don’t end with the prayer meeting, but that we take them home with us as well. Let’s pray we understand the difference between the personal prayer closet and the public prayer meeting. And let’s pray we can implement these guidelines in cooperation with the Holy Spirit that will energize our time, edify our souls and expand our effectiveness!