Good preparation before your event lays a solid foundation for a successful time together. Pray for the Lord's direction as you answer several key questions:
Whether it is your home, at your church, or a room at your place of business, select a space that offers adequate seating for everyone as well as minimal distractions, such as ringing phones or "people traffic."
Will it be a one-time or a regular event? Keeping others in mind, choose the day, time, meeting length, and frequency.
For example, if you are gathering co-workers during the workday to pray, you might choose a weekly time of 30 minutes before work or during lunch.
Or, if you are hosting a one-time event with friends or church members, you might opt for an entire weekend afternoon of prayer. If you plan well and offer a variety of methods and techniques, meeting for as long as 4 hours can pass quickly.
Will your meeting spotlight a particular part of the world, a specific group of prayer requests, or a special season of the year? Choose something that is meaningful to you. For instance, your prayer meeting could concentrate on the missionaries your church sponsors or the importance of Easter.
Plan how to recruit others to make following-through that much easier.
Start by personally inviting those you know who are interested in praying with others. You can focus on a specific group, like neighbors, members of a small group or Sunday school class, or others who share a common interest.
You might also want to run an announcement in a church bulletin or newsletter. Advertising might require you to plan further ahead.
As the day approaches, do not forget to remind those you have invited about the time and location. You could also send them Bible verses about the purpose and value of prayer.
Schedule your praying time to keep it interesting and increase participation.
Your first agenda item might provide time to ready people to focus on prayer.
For example, some people will arrive with the need to get right in their relationship with God. Instructing the group to spend several moments in purposeful silence gives the opportunity for confession of sin and acceptance of God's on-going forgiveness.
Setting this priority can greatly influence the effectiveness of your prayer meeting in the lives of all who participate.
Then, ask yourself, "How do I connect with God?" says Frank Samuelson of The Global Prayer Movement, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
In other words, what methods, topics, or resources have been significant to you? What experiences have increased your desire to pray? You will lead others more effectively if you begin with what you know.
Add variety by breaking up times of prayer with worship, Scripture reading, and an assortment of prayer methods.
The Global Prayer Movement website is a practical resource for worldwide prayer requests, articles on prayer, and guidance on starting a prayer movement.
Make special arrangements by providing or asking others to bring needed materials.
Some helpful suggestions are:
- Bibles for Scripture readings and use during prayer
- Materials for writing down prayer requests, such as pads of paper and pens
- Arrangements for worship, like a CD player or space for musical instruments
- Refreshments, such as snacks, juice and coffee (especially if you are meeting for a longer period of time)
Create a few simple "ground rules" to help avoid certain pitfalls.
Remind the group that:
- prayer is simply having a conversation with God
- silence is okay
- people should pray as they feel comfortable
Beginners will not feel pressured while the more experienced will be reminded of some basics.
Specific instructions for the different parts of your time may help others feel more at ease. For instance, before sharing personal requests, tell participants they will pray for the person on their left, thus giving them a "heads up."
Or, you may find yourself struggling to balance the "talkers" with those who are quieter. Instruct the group to pray one-sentence prayers for a portion of your time.
Certain things may not happen the way that you would hope, like the number of people who show up or the flow of your time together. However, God promises to meet you wherever two or more gather in His name (Matthew 18:20). Expect Him to work in the lives of all who participate, especially your own.