– Here’s a little article I just wrote for a leadership magazine that has a circulation to about 25,000 Pastor’s & Leaders.-
Many pastors and leaders desire to have powerful prayer ministries in their churches. Most understand that prayer is an essential foundation for ministry. Unfortunately many of our prayer meetings are sparsely attended, while many in our churches are fairly prayer-less. Oftentimes, efforts to cultivate prayer through sermon series or special events only inspire for a short time. After a month or two, interest wanes and we return to the place we began, desiring and needing more prayer.
Over the last several years, I have talked with many pastors and leaders about the subject of cultivating prayer in the local church. It is evident that prayer is an issue the Holy Spirit is emphasizing across the earth in this hour. How then shall we heed the Spirit’s call to really engage with God’s heart?
Perhaps the answer is not adding additional prayer meetings or doing special events for prayer. Perhaps the answer can be found by shifting the culture of our church so that we don’t simply have prayer meetings, but rather we develop a prayer based culture. Certainly Jesus’ words, “My House shall be called a house of prayer,” speak of this concept – the church living and breathing in a culture of prayer and operating from this essential foundation. If we don’t put prayer at the center of our church culture, other pursuits and agendas will always fight against it until we end up with few prayer meetings, with few in attendance.
How then do we embark on developing a “culture of prayer?”
1) It must start with the senior leader. When the senior leader develops a personal lifestyle of prayer, it will lead to the church developing a culture of prayer. This is more than just prayer meetings, but living in intimacy with God through prayer. No one else in your ministry can set the pace for a culture of prayer. Edwin Louis Cole said, “The character of the kingdom is set by the character of the king.” That saying is never truer than with the issue of prayer. Leading prayer is not something you can delegate. You may think that you are too busy to lead another initiative. However, this is one initiative you CANNOT be too busy to lead. Senior-leader led prayer will help cultivate a culture of prayer throughout your church.
2) Make prayer the top priority for your staff. I encourage Pastors to re-think the way they spend time in “the office.” What if you dedicated your first 2-4 hours a day for worship, prayer & study with your staff? Rather than spending your first hours busying yourselves with “ministry work”, gather together every morning for several hours to seek the Lord. Do the works of the ministry only after you have ministered to the Lord of the work. It takes hours in prayer to develop a culture of prayer.
3) Teach on prayer and subjects that build prayer. The culture of our church is largely built by what we emphasize in our preaching. Intimacy with God, The Majesty of God, the Sermon on the Mount, Revival, Holiness and Eschatology are all subjects that help fuel prayer.
4) Recognize prayer is the life source for all we do in the kingdom. Allow prayer to be the catalyst from which preaching, teaching, discipleship & outreach are birthed. Some think of prayer as fertilizer that causes the church to grow. Prayer is not the fertilizer; it’s water – without it there will be NO ministry.
It may seem radical to shift the entire culture of your church in order to simply build more prayer. Truly building prayer however, is more intensive than just adding a new ministry or department. It will require grace, time, patience & real commitment.
If the church is to become a ‘house of prayer’ we must transition the culture of our churches to a culture of prayer. I pray that we hear & obey the Spirit’s invitation and become the praying church that Jesus desires us to be.