How is your church’s prayer life? Church leaders hate that question because it’s the one thing we would do better if we really knew what it would take to spark and ignite our church’s prayer life. Yet, because we don’t know what to do our prayer meetings remain lifeless, boring if you will, a have to instead of a get to. If we are honest when it comes to corporate prayer times many congregations feel like they are always climbing the mountain like Moses, instead of moving mountains like Jesus. Deep down we know the prayer life of our churches should be vibrant and life giving, but often we walk away feeling as though the prayer meeting just sucked the very life right out of us.
Why is this? How can we create a prayer culture in our churches that is valued and vital to the vision God has given?
1. Remove the Moses Mentality- The picture we paint of prayer will be the perception that people have of prayer. The Moses mentality occurs when pastors and leaders in our churches become the sole mediators for the people in prayer instead of motivators in getting people to pray. Much like Moses climbing Mt. Sinai to hear and receive from God to give report to the people at the foot of the mountain; if we are not careful we will unintentionally create a picture that prayer is only for the chosen ones. The indicators of this happening are subtle, but you will see it surface when pastors and leaders become the automatic go to, the primary prayer warrior, or the person people assume God always answers. Other signs of the Moses mentality include people waiting in the prayer line for a specific person to pray for them, asking the “mediator” for a word from God, or the responsibility of prayer being left up to a remnant of people in the church. Removing the Moses mentality requires us to level the mountain that keep people from encountering God on their own and demolishing the barriers that keep people feeling inadequate about approaching God in prayer.
2. Disciple Your People in Prayer- If you could ask Jesus to teach you about anything what would it be? I could be wrong, but I don’t think prayer would be on the top of many of our lists. However, one of Jesus’ disciples asked, “Lord teach us to pray.” As leaders if we don’t disciple our people in prayer someone else will instruct them. Though there are great resources to help our congregations engage in prayer, we can’t just rely on Stormie OMartian to teach our church about the Power of a Praying Church (by the way I like and have used Stormie OMartian’s resources). If we don’t define prayer as it relates to the life and vision of our church, prayer will be defined by someone else. When we fail to define prayer and detail the ministry of prayer for our churches others will determine the direction for us. This can in turn create an unhealthy division in churches between intercessors (people who feel called to pray) and the uninterested (people who don’t know how to pray). The intercessors are seen as the super spiritual and the uninterested are are seen as unspiritual. Teaching our churches how to pray will bring a unifying definition of prayer and a prayer model that is fashioned for the vision.
3. Bring Down the Barriers – A few weeks ago I attended a new believers bible study and it really opened my eyes. I had to show the person on my right where the book of Psalms was and the person on my left where the book of Matthew was. Listening to some of the answers around the room regarding the topic of repentance I discovered I was out of touch with where people were really at in our church. Likewise, when it comes to prayer meetings in the church I think we can be out of touch with where people are really at which creates barriers in our meetings instead of breakthroughs. In other words, we are ready to storm the gates of hell, but most people can’t even see past their personal storms. I have found out that there are three types of people in our churches when it comes to prayer and all three types must be addressed in order for the prayer life of a church to become healthy.
- People who see prayer as a hard thing – When it comes to their prayer life, they don’t enjoy it they just want to get through it. Teaching this group of people about who God is and who they are in Christ causes them to better relate and communicate with God, therefore resulting in wanting to spend more time with Him.
- People who hardly pray – These people know they should pray, but they really haven’t taken the time to develop their prayer life. This group of people need to be taught the rewards of a disciplined prayer life.
- People that pray hard- This group is radical when it comes to prayer. They are the first ones to show up to the prayer meeting and the last ones to leave. This group needs to be taught to remember where God has brought them from. That they too have been included in the groups above and need to encourage others around them instead of finding fault with others. This group must be constantly aware of becoming critical instead of constructive.
If your church isn’t praying ask yourself why, what you can do and how you can create a culture of prayer in your church. A church’s programs will only be as strong as it’s prayer life. I hope these three things will at least help you begin the process of prayer becoming a core value and vital part of your church’s vision.
What is hindering your church’s prayer life? What has helped your church overcome some of the obstacles when it comes to prayer?