Promoting Prayer in The Local Church
by Susan Thomas
Jason Upton, Somerset, PA – I feel prayer needs to be consistently advocated from the pulpit and the altar. Church members should hear and see it promoted by the leadership of the church. Prayer is absolutely essential for church growth; it prepares the soil of our city to receive the seeds of evangelism. We have a weekly prayer meeting on Monday nights in which we pray for first-time visitors, missionaries and various other needs. We have regular prayer events, such as during the months of October when we have a Fall Fire theme. The entire month has days of fasting and prayer. Certain times will be themed to pray and fast for a particular need. We also schedule a revival and special services during this time period.
It is very important to preach/teach on prayer; words can’t express its value. In our Journey class, we teach a specific class on prayer, and I try to preach on it a couple times a year. On a personal level, I have noticed that as my prayer life deepens so does the overall spiritual level of the church.
Eugene Wilson, Katy, Texas – The most important trait for having a praying church is for church leaders to pray. If church leaders are not praying, the church, generally, is not praying. People typically do what leadership does. Prayer is essential to growth. However, I have seen praying churches that were not growing or evangelizing their community. Prayer will never take the place of things we are called to do. Yet, doing such things without prayer is wasted activity. We have organized prayer ministries. For example, we have a prayer ministry director who leads a portion of our pre-service prayer every Sunday evening. In addition, the prayer ministry highlights specific ministries/events each week for the church body to pray for. This is posted every Monday morning on our church’s Facebook Group Prayer Ministry page.
We also have a Prayer Revival every year that typically lasts from 5-6 nights. Each night, we focus on different things such as healing and miracles, outreach and evangelism, church leadership (including our small group leaders), etc. The Prayer Revival is one of the highlights for our church members, and we typically have many who join from the community, especially when focusing on healing/miracles. We have Sunday evening pre-service prayer in the sanctuary starting at 5:30. Also, every service begins with five minutes of focused prayer before the start of the service.
John W. Hanson, Thompson, CT – It must be the culture, not just a program. Without prayer, church is reduced to religion. Relationship requires real conversation.
Growth without prayer is artificial because it is not a work of the Spirit. In other words, it is building with wood, hay and stubble. We are a small group church, and our small groups are focused on prayer. Each service begins with 30 minutes of pre-service prayer. Our youth have a prayer meeting each month. Our Sunday school teachers meet for prayer before teaching. We have special prayer times and weekends dedicated to prayer several times a year. It is so important to teach prayer that we chose to make our cell groups focused on teaching people how to pray.
I have written several books on prayer and have done several video projects on the subject. We stress pre-service prayer, but we do it in the auditorium because we want everyone involved. We want our services to be God-focused and not reliant on a program, music or “cheerleading.” We have had people healed and filled with the Holy Ghost during these times. We encourage mature saints to minister to others during this time.
Edwin S Harper, Huntington, WV – In a local church, don’t forget that regardless of how talented, educated or faithful the members are, they are still sheep. Sheep are by nature followers. Whatever is promoted and whatever is observed is practiced. Show it, tell it and do it in front of them, and they will follow. “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house” Mark 3:27 KJV.
A praying church can subdue the enemy in homes, places of business, public and private schools, and a city’s public areas before the soul winner ever arrives. Corporate prayer and private intercession can change the very atmosphere and cleanse the air the people are breathing by neutralizing the “prince and the power of the air.”
Church growth and evangelization efforts are only programs, promotions and sales campaigns without prayer and fasting. Once a year, our Sunday school promotes a Daniel Fast for everyone above age 10. The Outreach Department also conducts prayer walks in and around problem sections of our city. Twice a year, I specifically preach and teach on prayer and fasting for all of the regular services for that week. Inevitably, the subject matter regularly surfaces in all of my teaching and preaching. A fact of church life is what you preach is what you get. We will continue our present practice. We have had moves of God that resulted in a week of unscheduled prayer every night.
Seth Simmons, Austin, TX – I believe a love of Christ and His sovereign will is the most important trait for having a praying church. Prayer is vital. Prayer aligns us with the mission of Christ – to seek and save the lost. Prayer cultivates a compassion for others because we begin to see others through the eyes of Christ. Our organized prayer ministries are All-Church Prayer, House-to-House Prayer, Tuesday Morning Ladies Prayer, as well as prayer thirty minutes before evening worship services.
January is a month of devotion, a time of corporate prayer and fasting. We also have summer vespers – one month in the summer when all Wednesday services are dedicated solely to prayer. It is essential to teach on prayer. If the disciples of Christ needed guidance, then we do also. Prayer is learned through biblical teaching, reading, praying with mature disciples, and experimenting in personal prayer. As with most disciplines, however, the issue of development often comes down to simply doing it. We encourage prayer prior to services and often encourage the entire church to pray at length after service during the altar call.