If your church has a regular church prayer meeting, how do you structure yours? How do you decide what to pray for and about? Do you have a set structure or do you mix up what you pray for each time you meet?
This is one of those things that isn’t about right or wrong. The Bible (I don’t think) tells us exactly how to structure prayer meetings. In fact, I’m not sure it tells us to have prayer meetings at all (but that is another post for another day). Certainly we are commanded to pray, there are calls for corporate prayer and examples of the NT church praying corporately too. So, all that is good reason to make sure that you pray corporately. Should you decide that dedicated prayer meetings are one good way of doing that – just as we do at our church – you may well want to think about how you structure them.
At our church, we have landed on a fairly standard formula these days. We often share a brief thought from scripture on prayer, then we dive into prayer. We usually break the meeting up into several sections where we can focus our prayers on particular things. Usually, we pray for our mission partners and then we pray for the works going on at our church and for the community where the Lord has placed us.
Rather than reel off everything from the latest prayer letter, we assume that our members receive and read the prayer letters. We encourage them to be on the mailing lists and trust that they keep up with what is going on. So, we don’t spend a long time going through all the details in the prayer letters but assume our members know what is happening. I do, however, always contact our mission partners before our prayer meeting to ask if there is anything specific for which they would like prayer. These are the points that are usually read out at the start of the relevant section and to which we direct our prayers.
Once we have prayed for our partner churches, we give people space to pray through the mission of our own church. There are always the general things we want to pray, such as asking the Lord to grant salvation to the people we are reaching or to grow believers in the works going on. But there are some specific things that we may want to be praying about too. We try to highlight some of the things going on in the church that are out of the ordinary and for which we want to be praying. We try to ensure there is a relative mix of things to give thanks to God for doing through the church and things that we are asking God to do for and through us.
We try to limit the chat and explanation in the meeting itself so that we can get on with the actual reason we are there; prayer. There is little more annoying than going to a prayer meeting and finding 15 minutes of prayer compared to 45 minutes of explanations. This is also why we like to assume prayer letters have been read so that we limit too much explanation and get on with the business of prayer.
At the end of the day, structuring your prayer meetings can be helpful, but it isn’t essential. What really matters is that you get on and pray, however you do it.