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The Prayer Circle: Shepherding the Prayer Meeting


Thanks for meeting us at the prayer circle.

In order to avoid the doldrums of a lifeless prayer meeting, we have to have willing prayer leaders to create the right attitude about prayer.

This week we’ll offer some practical insights on how to shepherd the prayer meeting to a place of power.

Shepherding the Prayer Meeting

After years and years of observation and intimate participation, I am convinced that leadership and prayer shepherding have a drastic effect on the quality and reality of a prayer gathering.

Unless you have a very mature group that already understands the leadership of the Spirit in prayer, your leadership by the Spirit can set the tone and leave the participants with a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Prayer is a mystery that can’t be explained totally, but we can facilitate prayer in some very practical ways. Honestly, some bad habits need to be shepherded out and some good habits need to be shepherded in. Here are some hard questions that can guide our thinking in removing some prayer killers.

  • Why do we let prayer requests go on and on with little time left for prayer?
  • Why do we allow a seating arrangement that is awkward and does not enhance group oneness?
  • Why do we let some well-intentioned person pray at length in a voice volume that cannot be heard?
  • Why do we allow long prayers that leave no time for others?
  • Why do we focus most of the time on outer man needs?

The list could go on, but you get the idea. Reigning in some of these things that tend to be exhausting can free people up and refresh them during the meeting. Godly shepherds must rescue prayer meeting from the wolves of bad habits. If you don’t, people will be discouraged in their spirits and possibly quit coming.

I love Acts 4:31. “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” These Jewish believers had had some “shaking” in their history. God shook the mountain when Moses received the Ten Commandments. They knew that this physical experience was an indication that God had heard their prayers and was signing on to their hearts and ministry. I am not suggesting that we should work towards a physical shaking, but I do believe the wisdom of our leadership can facilitate spiritual realities.

The record of this event makes it clear that there is no conflict between the sovereignty of God and the believing prayers of His people (read Acts 4:24-31).

Archbishop Richard Trench said, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His highest willingness.” Robert Law echoes with something similar, “Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man’s will done in heaven, but for getting God’s will done on earth.”

So, what are some practical ways we can facilitate and shepherd a fulfilling prayer meeting?

  1. Seat them the best you can for group involvement. (Be creative.)
  2. Encourage them to pray loud enough to be heard. This allows everyone to enter in to what’s being said.
  3. Give freedom to look at their Bibles as they pray.
  4. Intersperse simple singing.
  5. Encourage short sentences in conversational type praying.
  6. Give some basic Scriptures to agree with in prayer.
  7. Use silence as a time of focus and heart preparation.
  8. Feel free to stop momentarily in order to change topics. Sometimes this is called a concert of prayer.
  9. Have them go on location of a specific ministry.
  10. Start with adoration.
  11. Give some time for heart searching and confession.
  12. Have segments of nothing but thanksgiving.
  13. Have times of crying out in intercession for others.
  14. Encourage audible amens.
  15. Send them off with a song of joy and praise.

In conclusion, we must realize that prayer is developed as people grow and develop. Most importantly as leaders, we are stewards of the connection between the praying Church and her Head, Jesus. Remember, people will become exhausted and disconnect from prayer if we shepherds allow prayer to become disconnected from Jesus Christ. Christ in us is our hope of glory! He alone is the WOW factor! Got to have Him!

Joe Humrichous

Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

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