In order to be a house of prayer, your church must put prayer in the middle of your Sunday Morning worship. This may be challenging, as this prayer time can be overcome with personal prayer requests. Everyone is so needy: including us! Everywhere we look, we can see people who are heavy laden and burdened with the cares of life, grief and pain. Our hearts break with compassion over the pain of the brokenhearted people we encounter every day. Every request is valid.
Here are some simple suggestions for incorporating prayer requests in the context of worship:
- Change the atmosphere of the prayer request time. Daniel Henderson warns that “sharing the trials and traumas of people in the church can easily downgrade to inappropriate chit-chat. Sometimes the devil is in the details.” Henderson says, “A strong worship-based prayer time tends to eliminate loose lips.”
- Change the way in which you receive prayer requests. Rather than a long litany of individually called out needs, have your people offer the needs spontaneously, but prayerfully, “Congregation – as we bow our heads in prayer, mindful that God hears us and cares -would you prayerfully call out the needs of loved ones?” After spontaneous needs are called out, lead the congregation in prayer for those needs.
- Collect the prayer request beforehand. They are given to the pastor, who will often call many of them out as he prays for the congregation, “Lord, today, we offer these people to you in need – John, recovering for surgery; Ann, needing a job; our youth, and their summer mission trip – and so on!”
- Give thanks for answered prayer! After you have prayed for those in need, the pastor might continue the prayer time in this way, “Congregation – would you now respond spontaneously to God in thanksgiving for answered prayer? God, this week you answered my prayer by ________.” Have the congregation fill in the blank, encouraging them to use no more than phrases or sentence prayers. Keep the prayer responses moving around the room! Repeat them if necessary, so that all can hear. Have a prayer request box or chest, and at prayer meetings, members come forward and take the requests out of the box by the handfuls. They go to a quiet place and pray through the needs, returning them to the prayer chest at the end of the prayer session. The prayer meeting usually begins with a general charge and some instructions. Conclude with thanksgiving and praise for answered prayer.
- Have people who will take home prayer requests and pray for them during the week.
- Keep a record of answered prayer! Make a book. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by the sheer number of prayer requests that we fail to see any of the answers. John Hyde, the son of a pastor, is often called the apostle of prayer. Affectionately known as “Praying Hyde” (1865-1912), he recorded 50,000 specific answers to his prayers.
- Put up prayer requests on a screen during your prayer time.
This blog is an excerpt from the newly released Milestones – Markers on the Journey Toward Becoming a House of Prayer. This book is a roadmap toward making your church ‘a house of prayer for the nations.’ Whether you follow this guide fastidiously or casually, you and your prayer team will be stretched in their thinking, advised, admonished, counseled, about the practical aspects of change as your congregation re-centers itself in Christocentric, transformational prayer with a missional interface.
Receive this book for FREE with your paid 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.
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.