Recently Crawford wrote a post on moving your prayer meeting to Sunday. As I was reading that post I thought of a few other ideas that would encourage participation at prayer meetings.
1. Watch video updates from missionaries
Growing up, the missionary letters read at prayer meeting was a dreaded time of boredom for me. Ironically, one of my favorite meetings was when missionaries would come and give slideshows about their service for the Lord. Essentially both the letters and the slideshows gave the same information, but the difference was in the delivery. In the slideshows we got to see real missionaries telling about their experiences with enthusiasm.
In contrast, the letters were often read in a monotone style and with the reader stumbling over foreign names. The slideshows had pictures of exotic places and people, and the missionaries often stopped to tell incredible stories about them. It was hard to imagine the same stories when they were read from the pulpit with nothing to look at.
Getting a hold of good videos
Today CMML, as well as other mission agencies, is making videos of missionary updates. You can find them at cmml.us. These videos are about five minutes long – the same time it would take to read a letter – but they are packed with video and images of the places being referred to, along with the missionaries narrating.
Here you get to meet the missionaries on location and hear them talk about what they are doing and how you can pray for them. CMML has dozens of these videos and is continuing to make more. An assembly could easily play one a week, which could spark the interest of all who attend and provide a helpful education on the missionaries and the places they serve so we could pray more effectively.
2. Take part in the North American Week of Prayer
Last year the Bible Chapel of Shawnee in the Kansas City area put on a conference dedicated solely to prayer. This wasn’t just teaching on prayer, although that was included, it was mostly just saints lifting up their souls to God. It’s happening again this year, April 25-29. There are several ways an assembly could participate in this event.
- People could be sponsored to go. Sending an elder or group of people to a week of prayer could charge them up spiritually, and it will no doubt be a blessing to their assembly.
- An assembly could host a regional conference, which could show live stream videos of the conference in Kansas City. Several places did this last year.
- Saints could be informed about the event and encouraged to watch the videos on the North American Week of Prayer website and spend extra time in prayer that week.
3. Have Young Men Read Missionary Updates
Despite what I said above about missionary updates, I’m not against them. In fact the practice is very biblical since a lot of the New Testament is written as letters from missionaries to churches which include updates about the missionary’s work (see Romans 15:23-29; 1 Corinthians 16:3-9; Philippians 1:12-20).
One way assemblies have used this time effectively is by having young men from the meeting read the letters. This gives them practice standing in front of an audience and talking. If there are long letters, they can also be emailed or printed out. The chairman can then highlight the parts to be read at the prayer meeting, so prayer time isn’t eaten up by reading ten page letters.
4. Create a Prayer List for the Assembly
A dear sister at my home assembly in Grand Rapids Michigan took it upon herself to create a list of prayer needs for the saints a couple of years ago. She has continued to do this and it has been a real blessing to the Christians. She has an announcement made and updates the list once a month.
The believers can email her or talk to her about their prayer needs. She then prints off the list and has them available on a table at the back of the meeting area. Doing this reminds the saints that they are being prayed for and cuts down on the time it would take for every believer to reiterate their prayer requests every week.
5. Have More than One Prayer Meeting
One of the reasons attendance can be low at a mid-week prayer meeting is the distance the believers have to travel to get to prayer meeting. After someone gets off work, commutes home, and has dinner, there is no time to drive 45 minutes or more to meet with the believers.
A solution to this would be to get out a map and find out where all the believers live, then organize prayer meetings in homes that are central to the geographical areas where groups of believers are. This could even be the catalyst for starting new assemblies in those areas.
These are simply suggestions. Your assembly is probably doing a few of these things already. Let’s be encouraged in prayer as we watch and wait for the coming of the Lord!