Prayer meetings: is there a problem
Prayer meetings: is there a problem
REPLIES: Page 3 of 3.
Mary Fennell (13/06/2012 19:26)
Hi John at the moment i've had to hold the meetings in my own house because the Church is having some work done but since i started holding the meetings in the house my numbers have gone down slightly.
John Miller (13/06/2012 22:02)
Mary, thanks for reply. I'll get back to you tomorrow. Early start!
Editor (14/06/2012 11:51)
Dear Mary, Good that John is hoping to dialogue on this important topic.
Meanwhile, I totally agree with your statement "I believe its our job to create the right atmosphere and the Holy Spirit's job to move people to Pray."
In my experience, many are not taught how to pray; and that prayer gatherings can be swamped by one or more overly-lengthy prayers as you describe.
Another problem is inappropriate prayers e.g. praying essentially personal prayers e.g. for Auntie Jeannie (whom no one else knows) when the real purpose and focus of the prayer meeting is (for instance) to pray for the nation.
I have often found that some seem to be uncomfortable with periods of silence and urge folk: "Where's your prayer voice?" This is not helpful either.
While avoiding any over-prescriptive direction (e.g. a 'menu' of prayer points) and/or fixed patterns, some have found the following elements helpful in terms of encapsulating the various elements of a 'rounded' prayer meeting.
5 point: Invocation; Confession; Thanksgiving; Petition; Intercession.
4 point (sometimes referred to as the 'Acts' of prayer):
Adoration; Confession; Thanksgiving; Supplication.
I have also found the following list of 'A's helpful.
APPROACH God in adoration and trust
ACKNOWLEDGING His work and His worth, in praise and worship
ADMITTING sin and seeking pardon
ASKING for needs to be met
ARGUING (wrestling like Jacob) with God for blessing
ACCEPTING from God one's own situation as he has shaped it
ADHERING to God through thick and thin
However, leaving aside the need for teaching on prayer, there is also a responsibility on the person leading the prayer meeting.
I been in a 'one-of' meeting with a group of believers - gathered from different parts and relatively unknown to each othe - where the person leading the meeting (and before the praying started) very clearly stated the purpose and focus of the prayer session.
During the subsequent prayer time someone went 'off message' and the leader openly interrupted the person in mid-sentence and asked them to stop praying. It was fairly brutal and I would not recommend it in a regular prayer group of those who know each other, but the point was clearly made.
One of the advantages of (say) early-morning or late-night prayer meetings is that those who come are committed to prayer. But even that does not guarantee that someone will not engage in lengthy and/or inappropriate prayer.
Personally I wouldn't be concerned about the smaller numbers (it's the quality of the prayers that counts).
Pray on dear sister.
P.S. If there are any men in your group, perhaps pray for a prayerful man who can take the responsibility for keeping the meeting in order.
P.P.S The following article is about worship (springing up in the context of a prayer meeting)
Mary Fennell (14/06/2012 17:10)
Thanks Editor for your comments some of which i agree with.
I have no problem in keeping a meeting in order, but you are right we need to pray for prayerful Women and Men to take a hand in leadership.
John Miller (14/06/2012 21:22)
Please forgive me. I'll get on to this tomorrow. I've had a long day today and have an early start in the morning but I am really interested in the burden that you are carrying.
Mary Fennell (15/06/2012 02:38)
hi John don't worry, I carry no great burden all i was doing was commenting on the topic. nice talking to you
John Miller (16/06/2012 11:29)
Hello Mary, things have been a bit hectic this week and I've not been able to continue our conversation but Saturday morning has arrived peacefully and far too wet to do the garden.
I am sure that the Lord will honour your desire to be involved in Bible study and prayer and that it can only be a bessing and support to your church fellowship. If you have a pastor or appointed minister he should be showing godly leadership in such ministry and the same goes for the eldership, if such exists.
We do not have house groups in our fellowship although they have been suggested. I believe that they are a good and biblical part of church life. My talk with those who are involved in them indicates that they are a source of encouragement in the Christian faith.
As far as the length of the prayers is concerned it should be gently but firmly emphasised that since this is a collective ministry we must consider for the desire of all to take part. Private prayer can go on for hours if a man or woman is spiritually able to find sustenance in such devotion but when we are together whether formally in a church setting or in households we must be respectful of the desire of all to participate as the Spirit of God leads.
Someone said that prayer was drawing on the inexhaustible reservoir of God's grace and I enjoy such an illustration. We do well to pay heed to the model of the Lord's Prayer because it shows that the balance of our address to the Father must always be tilted towards His praise, worship and interests more than our needs. Thanksgiving must be a large part of our prayers.
As we consider the amazing privilege that we have as a redeemed people to approach God's Throne of Grace with no help or assistance required other than our relationship with Jesus it must bow our hearts in worship. Jesus offered the sacrifice of Himself once for ever. Jesus is our High Priest and we need no other person to assist us in our approach to God. If we sin we have an advocate with the Father. This is important because He is not before the Father as an advocate would be in this world's courts. He is with the Father and we can remember His own words, "I and the Father are one."
We have God's Spirit within us guiding us in our thoughts as we pray. We are truly blessed in every way as only God could bless us. We must keep in mind the scriptural truth of the priesthood of every believer. In some churches certain men are described as priests. This is misleading in it's suggestion that others are not.
In many churches the Lord Jesus is seldom if ever addressed in prayer. This is sad because He made it clear in John 14:13-14 that He expects us tp ask Him in His name and He will answer.
Diverging slightly on this theme I personally believe that when we are giving thanks for the bread and the cup at the Lord's Supper we should feel free to address the Lord Jesus directly because we are remembering Him in His death, but also proclaiming His risen life.
Sorry to be a bit lengthy but I do hope God will encourage you and your brethren in this vital ministry.
One final thought - those who take a prominent place in a local church but do not support the prayer ministry of the church really need to search their hearts.
Mary Fennell (16/06/2012 12:05)
yes John i agree prayer should be central to any ministry within the church, i was up until the Presbytery Prayer Co-ordinator not an easy job to do.
I have been leading bible study/prayer groups for a few years although at the moment only resposible for one group, i have no difficulty with people praying long prayers within this group, I was really talking more general than that.
I do believe we need more teaching on prayer, their are a lot of people in our congregations who pray privately but not corporately most of it could be lack of confidence or just could be they think there no need
We have have very good Minister and we do have Elders.Diverging slightly on this theme I personally believe that when we are giving thanks for the bread and the cup at the Lord's Supper we should feel free to address the Lord Jesus directly because we are remembering Him in His death, but also proclaiming His risen life.
I know intercession is really important but in some meetings i've been in people seem more comfortable than just coming before the Lord in Adoration.
John Miller (16/06/2012 13:31) We are saved to worship. God's great purpose is revealed in John 4 (among other scriptures) by Jesus, when he said to the woman at the well, "..such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." (NASB)
Mary Fennell (16/06/2012 14:27)
Very true John! very true.
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