Prayer must be a Priority and a Permanent Practice
When you understand and practice the above elements in prayer, then you are ready to:
It is then that you will begin to see an increase in participation and the development of a passion within others to meet with God through prayer resulting in praise to our Lord.
Specific time must be set aside for prayer no matter what else is going on. During the stresses and trials of life, we need to pray more, not less. The title of Hybel's book, Too Busy Not to Pray, says it well.
In both our private lives and in the church, we can let the concerns of this world crowd out our communion with God. So often in prayer meetings we can spend so much time on preliminaries or sharing prayer requests that we have little time for actual praying. Token prayers are usually shallow without much passion.
Get creative in the way you present prayer requests and handle preliminaries to try to save time in order to allow more time for prayer.
- Have people write their requests on note cards or slips of paper. Put them all in a basket and pass the basket around for people to randomly choose a request.
- As people arrive have them write their requests on a transparency or white or chalk board and keep it displayed as you go to prayer. You could also present announcements this way.
- Collect prayer requests by e-mail or phone throughout the week and type up a list to distribute. People can then pray using the list.
- Share requests in groups of three and then have only one person from each group pray for all the requests of their group in the larger setting.
- Structure your time into segments of prayer with a brief time in-between to share something about that segment.
The Prayer Ministry Manual also provides a list of ways to make prayer more of a priority in our personal lives and an assessment to help you know if a prayer is a priority personally and as a church.
To pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) is to make prayer a lifestyle or pattern in your life. To pray without ceasing is to pray at all times and for all things. Setting aside times devoted to concentrated, undistracted prayer in our individual lives and as a church is very important. But, we also need to go through our daily lives attentive to God, consistently asking God His opinion and desires and always giving Him thanks.
To pray without ceasing is what has been called "practicing the presence of God" -- always conscious of His presence, turning to Him as a constant companion, making no topic off limits with Him. Keep in mind that we do not need to pray for His presence in our lives. We have His promise that He is already there.
In calling people to prayer, we need to be careful that we are not making prayer come across as a passing fad or following the latest church movement. Prayer needs to be seen as the norm, as the expected response in any and all situations. When prayer is a pattern, we do not just come together for prayer in times of need or crisis. As seen in the example of the early church (Acts 2:42), we will be devoted to prayer wherein we promote a prayer environment and not merely a prayer meeting.
Model what it means to have a lifestyle of prayer.
- In conversations, ask the person if you can pray with them right then about what was just shared. Soon you may see other pockets of prayer around the church as people follow your example.
- When someone e-mails you with a prayer request, let them know that you will be praying for them as you send back your reply. You may even type out your prayer or part of it in the e-mail.
- As you hear or watch the news, silently pray for the current events right then and there or ask those in the room to join with you in prayer.
- In your sermons or teaching, refer to times when God led you to stop and pray as illustrations when appropriate. People may grab hold of that idea for their own lives.
In addition to this content, the Prayer Ministry Manual looks at what happens when prayer is more a matter of lifestyle, or a pattern, than a sporadic effort. You will also find an assessment using an acrostic of the word "devoted" as we need to be devoted to prayer if it is going to become a permanent practice.