1 Timothy 3:15 says the church is “the household of God,” and we know from Isaiah 56:7 that God expects his house “will be a house of prayer.”1 One way we try to reflect that reality in our life together is by hosting a monthly prayer night where the church can gather with nothing on the agenda other than prayer. But anyone who has been a part of prayer meetings knows they don’t always go so well – for a variety of different reasons. So let me provide the “Three Commandments of Corporate Prayer” in hopes they might brighten and enliven your prayer meeting.2
3 COMMANDMENTS OF CORPORATE PRAYER
Be bold. Pray with the bold confidence we have through faith in Christ our mediator (Eph. 3:12). The humility we are called to in Christ doesn’t remove the fact that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb. 4:16). Such assurance necessarily means we can pray boldly for those things we know to be in God’s will. Pray boldly for God to use the church to convert people unto Christ, for holiness to mark the corporate witness of the church, for sin to die within the hearts of church members, and for pastors to passionately declare the gospel of God. On an extremely practical level, praying boldly also means praying loud enough that those around you can hear your petitions.
Be biblical. Faithful prayer will always be thoroughly biblical. When we pray we want to saturate our thanksgivings, confessions, and requests with biblical language and biblical priorities. Furthermore, there are times in prayer where you might not know specific things to pray for underneath a given topic, and this is where an open Bible is a great friend. For example, if you are praying for a church plant that your fellowship supports, but you know little about its ministry or leaders, use the Bible to pray for things you know God’s word prioritizes in every church. Also, it’s not a cop-out to read Scripture as a prayer; this is one way you can be certain you are praying with the will of God in view.
Be brief. Everyone has experienced prayer groups or prayer meetings dominated by one long-winded church member. Brief prayers not only allow more people to pray, but allow more requests to be offered. It’s one thing to ask a small group of members to prayer for eight minutes on a particular topic and have two people occupy that time. It’s a completely different – and better – thing to see those same eight minutes saturated with 8-10 different prayers. You’d be surprised how much you can pray for in 45 seconds. There are times, to be sure, when longer prayer is advisable, but I generally think corporate prayer meetings should allow every individual church member to pray at multiple junctions.
Be bold, biblical, and brief.