Step 1: View the Prayer Meeting as an Encounter with God: Without a strong focus on God Himself, we can program the spiritual life out of a prayer meeting! We need to view the prayer meeting primarily as a relational experience with God rather than an event to orchestrate. The primary goal in the prayer meeting is to make significant time for people to experience a genuine, spontaneous encounter with God.
Step 2: Promote the Prayer Meeting as a Top Priority: Churches seldom develop dynamic prayer meetings until prayer becomes a genuine top priority. A series of brief Bible studies that teach the importance of corporate intercession can help congregations gain a priority view of prayer meetings. Until congregations fully grasp the importance of corporate intercession, they will continue to view prayer meetings as optional or unimportant.
Step 3: Prayerfully Plan the Prayer Meeting: Churches always reveal their real priorities by what they seriously plan, organize and promote. Today if prayer meetings exist at all, they are often poorly planned and under-promoted. Though this takes work and preparation, such efforts make a huge difference. However, your planning must leave room for the spontaneous response of God’s people. God will teach you the proper balance between planning and spontaneity.
Step 4: Use the Prayer Meeting to Grow Your People in Intercession: The weekly prayer meeting is the crucial setting in which to teach your congregation how to pray. Nothing teaches people to pray like praying and hearing others pray. The prayer meeting is also the time to give your people detailed prayer lists for key issues. In this way, believers move toward an outward Kingdom focus rather than one that is inward and temporal.
Step 5: Schedule Significant Prayer Time: People usually spend so much time talking about prayer requests that they spend almost no time in prayer. Churches must rethink the amount of time allotted for the weekly prayer meeting. Regardless of the length of the prayer meeting, the guiding principle is to schedule most of your time for actual prayer. In most churches this will require major changes, but the results will be worth it.
Step 6: Focus Prayer More on Eternal than Temporal Issues: When prayer is focused almost entirely on physical needs, the prayer focus is inward and temporal rather than outward and eternal. God’s heart is broken when we endlessly major on temporal concerns and miss His larger purposes. With a little planning, your church can achieve a healthy balance between eternal and temporal prayer concerns.
Step 7: Schedule Additional Prayer Meetings with Serious Intercessors
Develop strong prayer patterns, but do not make them so extensive as to eliminate the vast majority of participants. For your more serious intercessors, it is crucial to offer additional prayer meetings of greater intensity and length.
Step 8: Promote the Meeting as a Time of Joy and Life-Changing Power
When a church conducts powerful corporate prayer meetings, many prayers will be answered, and it will have many reasons to rejoice. Many churches find it appropriate to begin prayer meetings with a time of sharing answered prayers. Nothing fills people with joy and prepares them to pray like hearing recent answers from God. If churches promote prayer meetings as exciting, life-changing events, far more people will attend.