Pandemic Prayer Meetings: Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone, Anything
Some congregations schedule a weekly all-invited prayer meeting.
Some abandoned that for periodic prayer gatherings (monthly, quarterly).
Some have begun virtual prayer meetings during the pandemic.
Each of these options is an invitation to everyone in the congregation. If you want to pray with the church family, you must be in the room or online.
But not best.
Rather than always requiring everyone to come to the same place to pray, we must also take prayer to the places the people already are. This provides a balance between what is usually a customary format (same place, same template) and a freer style that empowering the church to pray anytime, anywhere, with anyone, about anything. Don't abandon the former but utilize the latter to reimagine prayer.
Centralized prayer meetings, while a wonderful experience of worship and fellowship, often do little to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry of prayer that builds up the Body of Christ (see Ephesians 4:12).
Strategically decentralized prayer meetings - 2 or 3 gathered (or linked) together in Jesus’ name - take prayer into the community … to the places and spaces where real life is experienced; beauty and pain, joy and sadness, light and darkness. The congregation praying out of our seats and into the streets at street corners, cafeterias, business centers.
#ReimaginePRAYER...something like this (adopt/adapt to your situation).
- Announce in every Bulletin and Newsletter and Online:
- Prayer Meeting. Pray ~ Anytime. Anywhere. With Anyone. For Anything.
- "Make your life a prayer. In the midst of everything, no matter what happens, always give thanks as you pray, for this is God's perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus. Never restrain the fire of the Holy Spirit" (don't say no when the Spirit asks you to pray). (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19 The Passion Translation)
- Launch a prayer emphasis
- "120 Prayer Meetings in 120 Places in 120 Days"
- Use whatever amount is appropriate. ‘120’ remembers those gathered in the Upper Room when the Church was birthed by the Spirit.
- Consider using a number that represents the attendance or size of your congregation to indicate every person can participate
- The objective is to release every member of the congregation to pray. With others. In uncommon-to-prayer locations. To pray for different people-places-things (incidents, ideas and issues).
- The Prayer Champion (Pastor, Prayer Coordinator) encourages and challenges every person to participate in a “prayer meeting” as often as possible during the length of this ministry emphasis.
- Encourage every family to have a prayer gathering; at their table, on their street, at the kids’ school ,,,
- Use different terms if they capture interest more effectively:
- Prayer Chats - focused and brief
- Meet-Ups - online or outside
- Zoom Prayer - gathered online
- Teach members that to "pray without ceasing" simply means be ready to pray anytime the Holy Spirit taps your shoulder by reminding you of someone in need or gets you wondering about a stranger.
- You can pray about something that occurred in the past, but you cannot pray in the pas (you cannot go back and make-up for a missed prayer opportunity). You can pray for the future, but you cannot pray in the future...
- You can only pray in the present. The “right now”. Even right now as you are reading this. (go ahead, try it then come back) So, “anytime” actually means, "pray NOW!" Prayer gatherings do not always need to be scheduled; they can be spontaneous.
- Train members to listen for the call-to-pray; it is an invitation from the Holy Trinity to commune with the Lord Almighty, access procured by Jesus, discernment and direction given by the Spirit.
- Begin to ask your members to post/email their “anytime” experiences when they have unexpectedly stopped to talk with, listen to God, then share the variety of these “pray NOW” actions to engage and equip the congregation.
- Explain how any place can become a space for prayer.
- Anywhere people live, work, play or learn. Places of influence where culture-impacting decisions are made. Spaces of generational poverty, plagued with pain, spiritual deserts.
- Pray at work, school, shopping, driving, walk-your-street, at the park, in another neighborhood, at city hall, looking at an Out-Of-Business sign or an abandoned house...
- Pray one-to-One (you and God)
- FaceTime a friend to pray with you (whether planned or spontaneous)
- Gather feedback of the places and spaces where your people are having "Prayer Meeting" during this emphasis.
- Instruct members how to connect with other members
- Schedule a Prayer-Chat on the phone
- Meet-Up to prayerwalk a street or to pray on the steps of City Hall or for the workers at a store or restaurant or hospital
- Recruit Zoom-Prayer starters for online prayer meetings (2 or 3 gathered in Jesus' name via computer). Use various church communications to post times anyone can join with others in prayer. Start with a brief (5 -15 minute) timeframe.
- Explain when praying in a public space:
- Not to draw attention; pray with eyes open in conversational tone.
- If someone inquires what you are doing: “We are praying for our community – what need is important to you?”
- Train your team in how to follow the Spirit's leading to pray for someone who is nearby ("We are praying for needs in our community… May we pray for a blessing from God for you?).
- Often prayers are limited to our personal needs
- Expand the congregation’s vision to praying beyond to:
- People ~ in the community; the lost, the least, those who lead
- Places ~:no matter where you pray from, you can pray for different locations: neighborhoods, prisons, hospitals, schools, offices & factories, business & shopping centers . . .
- "Things ~ ask God for discernment to intercede for the community and the country; the ideas and issues that influence our culture.
A small congregation can make an impact on their community. An average-sized church (75 people or less) can easily have 120 Meet-Ups, Prayer-Chats, Zoom-Gatherings in 120 days that spread into the neighborhoods and sectors of the community.
Intercession produces impact that fuels influence.
The Anytime-Anywhere-Anyone-Anything Prayer Meeting.
No limitation to when, where, who, what.
“Each of you, all of you, allow the Holy Spirit to fill you
with unexpected opportunities to pray.”
(see Ephesians 5:19)
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