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Most pastors will tell me that the most important meeting of the church is the prayer meeting. They will also tell me that it is the least attended meeting in their church. I am told that people will come easy to a pot luck but not to a prayer meeting. But the power of a well attended prayer meeting is vital to a church.
I have been amazed at the connection between the size of the Sunday morning service and the size of the prayer meeting. It is consistently 10 percent of the Sunday morning attendance that is at the prayer meeting. An increase in attendance at the prayer meeting seems to increase attend on Sunday morning to get it back to that 10%.
But people don’t seem to like to come to pray meetings. Now I understand that part of that has to do with spiritual warfare. The enemy would love nothing better than to have people come to the prayer meeting.
That however is only part of the story. There are things as leaders that you can do to help the meeting be better attended. Here are 10 ideas why people don’t come to get you started.
1. The prayer meeting is boring.
People are struggling already that prayer is boring. The last thing they need is to come to a prayer meeting and find that also to be true. Creativity is a key to that.
2. The prayer meeting is a gossip session.
It is too easy for prayer requests from the floor to simply become a means to gossip. This behavior needs to be dealt with and taught how to be avoided.
3. No leadership in the meeting.
Some leaders are intimidated because they are not the best prayer person in the room. What the meeting needs is leadership not for the strongest prayer person to be in charge.
4. People are scared they will be called on to pray.
I try to never call on people to pray who I haven’t asked beforehand. It breeds an atmosphere of fear for new people.
5. They fear no end time.
Every prayer meeting should have an end time that is very clear. You can allow people to stay longer if they want, but people fear getting stuck in a meeting that they can’t get out.
6. It doesn’t seem to be a priority of the leadership.
If you are the leader of the group and this is a priority for the church or ministry you must make it a priority yourself. If the time doesn’t work for you don’t make it the main prayer time.
7. Not engaging their whole being.
Sitting or standing for the whole time will cause people to check out. Engaging the head and not the heart is not good, and so is touching the heart but not the head.
8. They fear a meeting with no variety.
If the prayer meeting is exactly the same forever and ever with no life people will not come back.
9. The prayer meeting takes place in the dungeon of the church.
Too often the prayer meeting is held in the most sad or distracting room of the church. Think through where you meet come up with some ideas to switch it up.
10. Long winded prayers without power.
Charles Finney encouraged people in the meeting to pray short prayers with passion. He would only have people pray who he knew would lead people in prayer. Key decisions about a meeting can be who ends up praying.
If you would like to dig deeper on a strategy of building a church that prays I recommend the Prayer Saturated Church by Cheryl Sacks.