The prayer effort moves forward on two legs – learning and doing. It also engages both sides of the brain. Teaching (left-brain) is not enough. Testing and experience (right-brain sensing, feeling, affect) is also necessary. The testing is in the doing. Teach (left-brain) and do (experience, which includes helping people past their fears of prayer, fear of praying aloud, of hearing and obeying the Spirit). Offer the precept, then practice it. And then graciously, gently, but bravely, teach into the learning gaps, and then repeat the doing.
Only 25 percent of the people who attend your church each Sunday are Christ-centered, spiritually vital people. Another 23 percent feel, at times, close to Christ, but they have not crossed the threshold into the spiritual vitality that characterizes the Christ-centered group. There are two other groups that constitute half of your congregation. About 10 percent are exploring Christ, surprisingly they have not yet made a saving commitment to Christ. Another 37 percent consider themselves Christians, and they are growing in Christ, but are often ‘stuck’ and do not yet feel ‘close’ to Christ. Almost half of your congregation is either unsaved or feels somewhat distant from God. The difference between those in the other half, those who feel close to Christ, and those who are Christ-centered, is found in large part in their personal daily prayer practices.
So many people attend church, hear songs about God, listen to talks about God, but never encounter God. The only prayers they pray are fleeting, ‘God, help me!’ crisis prayers. If you teach or preach about prayer, but you do not offer prayer experiences in which you practice those principles, your effort will fail. Teach on prayer walking, then prayer-walk. Teach on praying Scripture, and then practice it. Create prayer learning experiences: “Tuesday night, we will have a special prayer experience on praying Scripture.” Do not expect all those who attend your teaching session to show up for the training experience. Our learning model is often passive, non-engaging and non-threatening. Doing is active, engaging and intimidating. At first, be happy with twenty percent or more in your prayer engagement effort. They will infect others. Teach and then practice. It is in the obedience, the application of the principle, that faith grows and that transformation takes place.
This is an excerpt from The Praying Church Made Simple, a new resource for congregational prayer ministries. The purpose of The Praying Church Made Simple is to establish clear beginning points for revitalizing the congregational prayer effort; and to set forth a simple approach to prayer mobilization for the smaller congregation.
Purchase this book at a discount or even receive for FREE with your membership in The Praying Church Movement, a network of local prayer leaders who are on a journey to bring prayer to the heart of all they do.
 Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson, Move (Zondervan, 2011), 90, 118.
 Ibid, 181.
P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.