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Covering Mississippi in Prayer

Lead People to Pray Differently in Worship

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Written by Phil Miglioratti

In many churches, times of prayer have become the most neglected, unplanned, non-engaging moments of a worship service. From its beginning, the New Testament church was a praying church. Every believer was present and participating. Prayer was both the responsibility and the divine opportunity of each person in the congregation. Prayer was never intended to be the spectator event it has become.

Worship leaders and planning teams must include corporate prayer when they design worship services for the church. Corporate prayer must have:

  • opportunity to address God (praise and adoration)
  • express their needs (petitions and requests)
  • be led by the Holy Spirit as He helps us pray (listening and reflecting).

How can you facilitate a different kind of congregational prayer? As a worship leader or member of the worship team, use the following ideas to help you get started:

Know Your Motivation

Change for the sake of change is an inadequate reason to insert something new into the Sunday morning order or worship. Providing an opportunity to connect people to God in a life-transforming and church-transforming way must be the motivation that propels and guides us.

Make Your Purpose Clear

Most members in a congregation are ready, willing, and able to step into new territories of prayer; but they need to know more than what you want them to do: “Please stand and ___.” They also need to know why: “The Scriptures tell us to give thanks, so, please stand and ___.”

Connect People to God

Select or design activities that quickly and directly connect people to God in prayer. Respect tradition and be keenly aware of your congregation’s comfort zone, but also gently lead the church into expressions and experiences of praise and petition that result in fresh encounters with the living God.

Prepare and Guide Your Congregation

Prepare people if you are going to ask them to do something new or different: “I am going to ask you to participate this morning in a way that is new to many of us. I believe it will enable us as a body to obey our Lord as we present our requests to Him. You may join others in a small prayer group, remain seated and pray silently, or join a group but not pray aloud.”

Communicate that Participation is Optional

Give people the option not to participate if they are physically unable to comply or because they do not have a personal relationship with the Lord (“You may choose to remain seated”).

Tell the congregation what you are going to ask them to do. Give people the freedom to choose how they will participate. Lovingly challenge, not chide, them to step outside their comfort zones.

Evaluate Your Worship Prayer with These Questions

  1. What action best enables every member of the church to focus on God when we pray? Which methods have received the most favorable response in the past? Which activities have we overused lately? As you plan, consider:
    • Purpose-praise, petition, thanksgiving, confession.
    • Posture-stand, kneel, bow, prostrate.
    • Participation-recite in unison, form a group, come to the altar.
  2. How will we ask for feedback? Resistance to a new form of prayer may have more to do with the way it has been introduced or explained than it does to an unwillingness to try new methods.
  3. Who will have good ideas on how to lead the congregation in prayer? The best methods are often the simplest. Invite the Holy Spirit to give you His creative ideas each time you plan. The way to find the appropriate prayer activity is through your own activity of prayer!

Our goal is to invite the church into a divine conversation that originates in the heart of Almighty God. That conversation is revealed to us by the leading and empowering of the Holy Sprit. We offer prayer to the Father in the name and authority of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the Lord use us to bring His people into His presence-body, soul, and spirit-to the glory of God!

Phil Miglioratti is head of the National Pastors’ Prayer Network in Palatine, Illinois, and contributor to A House of Prayer: Prayer Ministries in Your Church in Palatine, Illinois