(Note: I’m not talking about another 60 minute preaching service under the banner of “prayer meeting.” No, this a legitimate prayer service. No preaching…no offering…just prayer!)
Several months ago the Lord began working in my heart about prayer. Not just prayer personally, but corporately in our church family. I was faced with the reality that much of my time was dedicated to leading our church in programs, but very little was spent on leading our church in prayer. This moment was both embarrassing and enlightening at the same time. God used it to change me and, in the process, He is changing our church. One of the greatest things our church has ever been through is a purging process – not of people, but of programs. I’m thankful we have returned to the simplicity of calling on God above all.
One of the major adjustments we have made is dedicating an entire service to church-wide, corporate prayer on Wednesdays. We are viewing prayer not as much as an obligation as it is an opportunity. We get to come to a prayer service and we get to call on God. Corporate, church prayer was the engine of the first century church. Unfortunately, in the twenty-first century it has become the emergency bake. Let that not be said of Laurel Baptist Church. May we strive as ever before to passionately pursue God and His presence in our lives and in our church.
I think often about the launching of the first church. It happened not in a revival meeting or a missions conference, but in a prayer service. You see, the health of our church is not measured by the beauty of our buildings or the size of our congregation, but rather by our devotion to pray.
So, consider a few of these things as you commit to be a part of our weekly prayer service…
→ COME EARLY TO GIVE PRAYER REQUESTS AND PRAY WITH CHURCH LEADERS
The auditorium opens at 6:15pm each Wednesday night (of course, Awana & Revive continues to meet in our educational wing at 6:45pm). Me and my wife along with two other deacons and their wives will always be available at the front at this time.
1. Receive requests – bring your prayer needs at this time. We’ll write them down and share them, if you desire, during the actual prayer service. The requests shared during the prayer service come from this time between 6:15pm – 7:00pm, as well as the Prayer Center online.
2. Pray with church leaders – as stated, my wife and I enjoy this time to listen to your needs and pray with you. Deacons and their wives are also available to pray up until 7:00pm.
3. Pray with others – it’s been wonderful to see other couples and individuals come early before the prayer service begins and spend some time around the altar praying. Just this week I witnessed a man and his wife spend meaningful prayer together before the service after her recent diagnosis with cancer.
→ LEARN BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES AND LESSONS ON PRAYER
Though our Wednesday service is NOT a preaching time, I have made it a point to read verses and share principles every week about prayer. Before we pray, we essentially spend 10 to 15 minutes claiming God’s promises in His Word for hearing and answering our prayers. This past Wednesday I shared 6 hindrances to our prayers (selfish motives, ignoring Scriptures, unforgiving heart, marital discord, unconfessed sin, and doubt). No matter what is going on, the topic is always prayer!
→ ENJOY THE UNITY OF PRAYING TOGETHER, CORPORATELY, AS A CHURCH FAMILY
Each prayer service is different. Sometimes we split up into groups of 3 or 4, sometimes in groups of 15 to 20. Just a few weeks ago we split up into groups of 3. After reading James 5:16, “confess your faults one to another and pray one for another,” we shared our current struggles. Some of the ones mentioned in my group were pride, bitterness, parenting, time management, etc. After we confessed our struggles we intimately and passionately prayed with one another. Did you know that God answered some of those same prayers that week? Few things in life are better than praying together with other believers!
There are times when we all come forward to the altar and pray, and there are times when we stand or kneel in the aisles. There really is little agenda or planning other than letting the Holy Spirit lead us as we pray. Some nights we pray exclusively for the lost, some nights cancer patients, and some nights missionary families. It’s simple, really. We are letting the Lord lead us as we pray.
But the joy of praying together is experiencing together the power and presence of God. In Acts 4:24, “they lifted up their voice to God with one accord.” Together! They prayed, together!
I hope you will consider making the mid-week prayer service a priority in your walk with God. It, indeed, is becoming the most important service of the week in our church ministry.