Friday, January 16, 2009

Prayer Meeting ~ Not Best Practices

The Prayer Meeting

“I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” 1Tim. 2:8 “So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary... where many were gathered together praying.” Acts 12:12

Prayer has been on the increase in many parts of the world… and that is a very good sign. Prayer meetings are springing up everywhere. The saints, including many leaders are crossing denominational boundaries to meet together for intercession and worship! As you know, throughout Church history, God has stirred extraordinary prayer before He did something of significance. Be attentive, God is about to do something.

Because we want to flow with God’s Spirit as He leads us into prayer, it would seem wise to maximize the effectiveness of our corporate efforts (Prayer leader please take note). Whenever possible intermingle worship with prayer. This will most definitely enhance your prayer time. Also consider singing some of the prayers. You will be surprised how this adds life to the meeting.

For the sake of improvement it may be helpful to mention some common practices that occur during a prayer gathering:

  • The one who is praying dominates the time with longwinded prayers. Prayers must be Spirit-led; and of course, you are to flow with the Spirit for as long (or as short) as He gives utterance. But do not drone on in the power of the flesh.
  • Announcements are made within the prayer. Let’s say that Joe broke his arm. The prayer will usually go something like this: “Dear Lord, you know that Brother Joe broke his arm this past Tuesday and was taken to Mercy Hospital – Room 511...etc.” Wouldn’t it be better to stop the prayer and explain the situation and then pray for Joe’s healing? Surely God knows all of the details; you do not need to remind Him. Also, be sure that your prayer is not gossip!
  • Horizontal, instead of vertical “prayers How many times have you heard a short sermon included in the prayer? In fact, it is seldom directed toward the throne of grace, but rather to the attendees, to teach or exhort. Don’t fool yourself, beloved; this is not prayer.
  • There is a lack of focus upon the One who hears our prayers. When you pray aloud are you wondering how others perceive your petition? (Is it doctrinally correct; does it sound spiritual enough?) Or, are you fixed upon the Lord… thinking of Him and speaking directly to Him?
  • The flow of the Spirit is cut short by a well-meaning pray-er who changes the subject of prayer before the entire objective has been met. For instance: the current topic is spiritual revival in your city. A few people have already prayed for certain aspects of this multifaceted issue and the Holy Spirit intends for there to be several more prayers offered regarding this subject… but then someone begins to pray for those suffering with AIDS. Surely this is a noble prayer, but the timing is off. Allow there to be a “dead spot” before changing topics, so the fullness of God’s purposes can be accomplished.

Ride the wave of the Holy Spirit for as long as He leads. You may enjoy intense prayer for a half-hour, sometimes for several hours. You will know when the session is over - the steady stream of intercession simply dries up. Here is a rule of thumb: If you have to think about what to pray next, it is usually time to take a break or to end the meeting. Dear disciple, don’t become legalistic about these things, but let’s ask God to help us pray most effectively.

Peter Whitehouse

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1 comment:

kelly ann said...

I just ran across your blog. I am excited to see it. I am looking forward to comning back and going through the archives to get new and fresh ideas. Thank-you for being here.
Blessings to you from one who also leads in prayer.