For the last 20 years I've helped people just like you find breakthrough through prayer. This blog is a resource for you to see mountains move in your own life and family. You can contact me anytime via email or through Instagram:
My name is Cheryl
Why is it that leading some prayer meetings carry the excitement of a winning team during the Super Bowl, while others resemble the losing team’s locker room at half time when the score is 20-0? While the heart and skill of the players are important factors; it’s often the coach who makes the difference by how he or she calls the plays and models a winning attitude. Many leaders have never been taught how to lead a prayer meeting and are encouraged when they learn it’s really quite easy for anyone who is willing to step out on the field. By putting into practice a few guidelines, you can lead your prayer team into spiritual victories and see God turn around seemingly impossible situations! Here are a few best practices for leading prayer meetings that unite us with the Lord and each other and bring powerful results:
In most churches, the worship service is planned and prayed over in advance. We need to get ready for a prayer meeting with the same intentionality. Before you do anything, seek the Father’s heart for the meeting and pray that the Spirit of prayer will permeate all who participate. Prepare yourself as the leader by spending time alone with God. Read scripture on the power of prayer to build your faith.
Prepare the room by making the place in which you pray conducive to an unhindered encounter with Jesus. It should be quiet, comfortable, free of distractions, and spiritually prepared by praying over the room in advance.
Enlist the aid of an anointed worship leader if that is to be part of the meeting. Prepare necessary resources: an agenda, Bible references, items for prayer/praise, music, etc.
Get everyone on the same page by explaining the agenda and how the meeting will work. Every prayer meeting needs a mission statement. Without a mission statement, everyone will assume the meeting’s purpose is to pray for each other’s personal needs, which is not always the case. So, write out your mission and make sure everyone knows what it is. (What are you praying for?
The church? The pastor? A community or world crisis? One another? ) This may need to be repeated in subsequent prayer meetings as newcomers arrive. Don’t be shy! Speak out! Let everyone know what the format will be: informal small group, concert of prayer, prayer vigil, harp and bowl, or a combination. See my book The Prayer Saturated Church (NavPress) for help with these prayer meeting formats and how they work. I pray it breathes life to your prayer gathering as God speaks through the pages.
Avoid rushing into the throne room with requests right away. Allow the peace and grace of Christ to bring wisdom and encouragement to you and the other believers at the very beginning of the meeting. This will set the tone for a Jesus-centered prayer time. Worship, thanksgiving, and heartfelt repentance attract the presence of God. The Holy Spirit comes where He is welcomed and invited. You may even want one of the first prayers of your meeting to be, “Come Holy Spirit!”
Many prayer groups spend the first forty-five minutes talking about their prayer requests and only the last fifteen minutes in actual prayer. Emphasize that the primary purpose of the prayer meeting is to pray. When you guard people’s prayer time, the serious pray-ers will return. Start and end the prayer meeting on time. If the group is experiencing a special move of God that would warrant extending the meeting, stop at the appointed time and release those who need to leave before continuing.
Instill in the pray-ers that they are there to change lives through their prayers. Remember that Heaven is your audience—not one another. Direct prayers God-ward and avoid prayers that counsel, correct, or give information. This keeps the group’s focus from being too narrow or self-centered and aligns everyone’s heart with God’s agenda.
A good rule of thumb is that the larger the group, the shorter the prayers of each person should be. Try to draw everyone into the time of prayer. Watch out for “ball-hogging.” In sports, a “ball hog” gets the ball and won’t let go. Sometimes the ball hog is the person who prays the best! However, if left unchecked, a ball hog will unintentionally hinder team spirit, and the whole team could lose the game. Vary your approach to maximize participation. You can break groups into partners and then shift to a quarterback praying upfront. Have a time of personal prayer in silence; ask participants to speak out loud things they are thankful for, worship intermittently throughout the prayer time. If this is a large prayer gathering, give opportunities for people to pray on an open microphone. Ask participants to go to the corners of the room and kneel, do a prayer march, or go prayer walking. When everyone prays as a team, there is a new level of God-driven energy and power.
Encourage Christians to pray thoroughly over one request before moving to another one. If people are praying “popcorn style” about different topics, the disjointed focus can stifle the prayer group.
Help your group understand the concept of saturation prayer – praying for one subject at a time until the Holy Spirit releases you to move on to a new topic. If someone jumps to a new request prematurely, gently bring the group back to the unfinished topic.
Encourage those in the group to expect great things of God! Focus on His faithfulness and ability rather than on the problem. As you gather the disciples to pray, invite Jesus to reward your prayers with a miraculous answer! Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (NIV).
For biblical examples of “winning” prayer meetings, read Acts 1, Acts 4: 24-31, Ezra 9, and Nehemiah 8-10 where corporate prayer birthed the church, empowered believers with bold witness, and brought entire cities to repentance and revival.
Cheryl Sacks is the best-selling author of The Prayer Saturated book series: The Prayer Saturated Church, Prayer-Saturated Kids, and The Prayer Saturated Family—How to Change the Atmosphere in Your Home through Prayer. Her newest book, Reclaim a Generation, 21 Days of Prayer for Schools, will be available soon at ReclaimAGeneration.com
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