SSP Prayer Bulletin Reflection
January 18, 2015
As we turn our calendars to a new year, we instinctively make plans to give attention to what matters. As Christians, it is my fervent hope that when we think about our priorities, prayer is right at the top of the list. If not, rearranging your priorities to reflect such might be a wise thing to do at this time of the year.
Developing a culture of prayer in a church takes time. The critical thing is to begin the process and take the steps necessary to build a prayer culture. In this respect, it is the goal of the Parish’s Prayer Committee to focus on building a community that prays and not just build a prayer meeting; to strategically develop prayer so that the congregation grows in prayer while also growing in relationship, in the Scriptures, and the other elements of community life. We want a congregation that is praying and growing together not just attending meetings as individual intercessors.
How and where do we start? I believe that the best way to do things is to lead by example. So, a prayer culture should begin with the leaders. The best way to build a culture of praying in the church is to get the leadership praying together. This foundation must be laid first if the congregation is going to catch the vision of prayer. They may begin a daily prayer meeting for the staff at the church. The senior leader in the church must lead this. That person cannot delegate his responsibility to lead prayer meetings. It must be held in a way that is very participatory, having the feel of praying together and not just one person praying. It should be the first thing on the daily schedule in the mornings since staff will be distracted with other pressing issues later in the day.
Next, teach a culture of prayer. Most people do not have a good theology of prayer and most often people feel they should pray, and have been told they should, but very few have a vision for prayer beyond obligation and personal needs. This year, the Prayer Committee have appointed a couple of Prayer Ambassadors who were given the task of serving as a liaison and promoter of the ministry between the congregation, the different fellowships, care groups, choirs and the Prayer Committee. They are tasked to give people understanding of why a prayer culture is important. They are to ensure that prayer is encouraged, engaged, and integrated into every ministry and department of the church.
Once the leadership of the church and the congregation are growing in prayer, then establishing a House of Prayer should be next in our agenda. Engaging students and young adults, mothers, retired individuals, and others who do not work, to lead prayer meetings strategically added during the week. This would tremendously strengthen their lives as well as the parish.
In the end, our ultimate goal is to build a Community of Prayer. Much patience is needed with the process of growing a praying church and so we ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance. The first steps are for our leadership to commit to a daily life of praying together, then begin teaching a sound theology of prayer, and then begin very approachable prayer meetings for the congregation.
“The life of the church is the highest life, and its office is to pray. Its PRAYER life is the highest life, the most fragrant, and the most conspicuous. When God’s house on the earth is a house of prayer, then God’s house in heaven is busy and powerful in its plans and movements. ‘For mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’ (Isaiah 56:7b), says our God. ~E.M. Bounds