Becoming A Praying Church

In yesterday’s post Are We A Praying Church?, I raised the question of whether our churches are praying churches or not (you might also be interested in Tuesday’s post A Praying Church).  When I speak of “churches” I mean the Churches of Christ which is the tribe I was raised in and continue to serve God in as a preacher/minister.

Between the comments on the blog and the comments on Facebook, most people do not believe that we our churches are praying churches…at least not in the way that we see the practice of prayer taking place in scripture and likely not with the same attention that prayer is given in many Pentecostal churches today.  My intention is not to be hyper-critical here but because I share the same sentiments as the comments, something needs to be said.  Why?  Because prayer is that important.  In fact, we are reminded of how important prayer is to the church’s mission in Acts.  We read in Acts 4:31, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

So how do we become a praying church?  Well, assuming we agree that we’re not a praying church (at least not the way we should be) then the first step to change is just that…change…repentance.  Let’s make a choice that we are going to change and become a praying church.

Having said that, I know that change is always easier said then done.  So I would like to make a few suggestions.

  1. The leaders of the church (preacher/pastor, elders, etc…) must be committed to being a people of prayer.  A former professor of mine says that no church will rise above it’s leaders.  That is true and therefore if we hope for our churches to become people of prayer, then we, the leaders, must first be people of prayer.
  2. We need to be teaching people how to pray.  Jesus taught his disciples how to pray and I still believe people, in the spiritual formation as disciples, need to be taught to pray and how to pray.
  3. Begin with a small group of people.  Just as we hope that one small Bible-study group or fellowship group will multiply with leaders for each group, the same can happen for prayer groups.
  4. Create some prayer opportunities for the entire church to come together for the express purpose of praying.  My hunch is that if the first three steps are happening then this fourth step will happen in time.  My mistake in the past has been to begin with #1 and then automatically try #4 without doing to necessary cultivation work of #2 and #3 that spiritually forms believers into people of prayer.

Do you have any suggestions?  If so, I would love to hear them as I am simply a learner trying to be more intentional about prayer and more intentional about leading my church, the Columbia Church of Christ, to be more of a praying church.

3 responses to “Becoming A Praying Church

  1. Back in 1972, when I experienced a baptism in the Holy Spirit, that included a call to prayer, I was led to gather together 33 people from across the country who had a similar burden; we agreed to pray daily for God to move in the Churches of Christ. Our group was called the Fellowship of Daniel the Intercessor. In 1977, the Holy Spirit indicated that the prayer initiative had fulfilled its purpose. Some time between then and now there was a considerable awakening to grace in the Church of Christ church, and a lot of people also left. But I share this to illustrate…it is hard to separate the life of prayer from life in the Spirit. The Spirit must give us faith to proceed in such-and-such a manner; it is not simply a matter of reading a manual and putting it into practice. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. So, someone has to perceive a call to prayer and then discern the places, and times and folks and, if you are not in a Church with a defined prayer traditoin, you have to come up with one. Are you going to be charismatics and be open to the gifts and behave ecstatically; are you going to be Quakers, and be still until someone gets the urge; are you going to borrow someone’s LItrugy- the Anglicans and use the Book of Common Prayer.
    How can one teaach folks to pray who has not swam deeply in the waters of prayer? But the Lord’s Prayer is a good place to start and a place to have recourse, no matter how noetic you get…. God bless and lead you and other Christians in the Christian Diaspora, separated by no fault of your own from the living Tradition.

  2. Very insightful, Ben. I think there is a definite connection here. Paul says in Galatians 5 that if we live by the Spirit we need to walk by the Spirit. I think we become a praying church by becoming more Spirit-ual.

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