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).