About 3 years ago the elders of my assembly faced a bit of a dilemma. The attendance at the mid-week prayer meeting was only about 15-20% of the assembly (sound familiar?). What was good was that a number of people who couldn’t make it out mid-week, for whatever reason, had shown an interest in being involved in corporate prayer. Now that’s encouraging.
Lump it or leave it?
One option would have been to look down on them and tell them, “If you really cared about prayer then you would be at the mid-week meeting.” Sadly this attitude permeates many who feel their commitment is greater than others and that attendance to specific meetings is the only thing that matters.
How important is prayer really?
As we prayed about this we realized something. If we (as elders) are going to say that prayer is important, and we do think it is, how can we say it’s not important enough to make the time of the meeting when the majority can be there to pray?
If we were to be adamant about keeping the prayer time on a mid-week evening then we would in fact be communicating that we don’t think prayer is that important.
Time for a change
After some more time praying and speaking to the saints in the assembly the elders decided to change the corporate prayer meeting to Sunday night. The results were immediate. Now instead of 15-20% of the saints together praying there were 50-60%.
Families that couldn’t make it out mid-week were able to bring their children and allow them to experience prayer. Teenagers and college students who had classes and assignments mid-week were now there praying.
What about the mid-week meeting?
Part of the positive results of moving the prayer meeting was the ability to spend more time mid-week focused on Bible study. We will still get only 15-20% out but there is a greater amount of time spent on learning the Word. This has also allowed us the flexibility to hold different kinds of studies mid-week.
Sometimes we have discussion, sometimes a speaker, sometimes men and women will separate and have their own prayer and discussion times. Having a variety of study methods has given more life to the mid-week meeting.
Each assembly needs to evaluate their corporate prayer time and ask a simple question. Can we make a change that will benefit a greater number of people in the assembly? Show that you consider prayer important and that you are flexible in arranging times to help the saints become a part of that prayer time. It doesn’t have to be Sunday evening. It could be during Sunday morning or even a different day/time if it works better for more people.