The Great Commission Church regularly gathers for a Night of Prayer. It is an evening devoted to congregational prayer. It is every month or quarter or any other regular time. It is a Church-wide event. The key is that it be a time of concentrated prayer. There are endless ways to run a night of prayer. Note, you may also hold a day of prayer for those who can't make the evening event. The following are a list of things to keep in mind.
1. Plan wisely.
Think through all the details: lighting, venue, acoustics, link-ups, etc. Attend local prayer events, read relevant books, visit related websites. Consider closing down an existing prayer meeting that is waning in momentum. Give this one a new name, look, logo, etc. Ask for all ministries to pause scheduled meetings for that evening.
2. Don't preach.
Remember, it's a time devoted to prayer. Limit talking. Speak just enough to guide people in prayer. Some Churches even have a quiet approach by offering a hand-out as you enter the venue. Directives are via a video screen. Whatever you do, limit your words to only what is necessary to facilitate prayer. Don't preach or teach on prayer; just pray.
3. Confess sin.
Set aside a time at the beginning where people can silently confess personal sin to be ready to pray. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. Psalm 66:18 One Church even encouraged those who were able to get on their knees for this part of the event.
4. Exalt God.
Magnify the Lord. Prayer is not just about petition; it is also a time for adoration. Praise God in song. Singing is a great way to inaugurate a time of prayer, songs that exalt the Lord, and focus on prayer. The right songs can create an excellent mood for prayer. Reading Psalms also facilitates exaltation.
5. Be aligned.
Focus on things that relate to the purpose of the Church. The purpose of the Church is to glorify God by making disciples of all nations. There are three areas of focus in that statement; Glorify God, local, and global disciple-making. Those can be three areas to focus on at each meeting.
6. Be Scriptural.
Offer a specific Scripture that serves as a banner verse for the evening. If relevant, allow the words of the chosen Scripture to guide the activities.
7. Be large group focused.
Church wide events of prayer are not times for personal prayer requests. That is best suited for other settings. Therefore, keep the focus on groups rather than individuals. Guide the prayer time so that it doesn't become uncomfortable for those expecting a more communal experience.
8. Be prepared.
Create a year's worth of Nights of Payer. Pick out the music, format, banner verses, supporting verses ahead of time. That would be three events if done each quarter.
9. Be creative.
- Don't feel obligated to do things the same way every time. Many pray options keep prayer fresh. Among them are:
Move around. Try and do this every time. Give people directives that move them from their seats. One Church placed the names of all the local schools on the walls of the sanctuary and asked people to move to those locations and pray for them. Options include moving to different rooms to pray.
Do open mic prayer. To keep this focused, ask people to quote a verse from a given Psalm and add a one-sentence prayer at the end. Keep it short and to the point. Remember this time for communal prayer, not personal prayer requests.
Rearrange the seating. One Church moved their chairs into two groups facing each other with the cross in the middle. A new seating arrangement adds freshness to the setting. Make sure to account for people's movement if they are to move around.
Get technical. Take advantage of your audio-visual resources and consider using them to introduce different segments of prayer. It can be done in the main gathering but is useful when using breakaway rooms. A powerful short video followed by written information or projected directions can be a great way to pray in a breakaway setting. See the video resources below.
Use Prayer cards. Consider asking key people in the community to write down prayer requests ahead of time, so people at the event can pray about those requests. Those key people might include local, state, and national elected leaders, first responders, youth, people in the congregation, those in education, etc.
Prayer stations. Use different rooms or places in the sanctuary that people migrate to after a general session. Depending upon the audio-visual resources, these rooms can be self-guided from a screen upfront or guided by an MC. Each station (room) can have a different focus and different ways to pray (open mic, small groups, placards on walls, prayer cards, etc.). Opening with a short, compelling video related to the subject followed by written directives can generate great times of prayer.
10. Use videos.
Videos can launch different themes of prayer. These are all also located on our website. Among those you might consider choosing are the following.
11. Use posters.
Put posters on the walls of the sanctuary or breakaway rooms to offer creative ways for people to pray. Some posters can be thought-provoking; others can be to write on.
12. Consider hosting the "Wall of the Unreached."
It is a creative and powerful way to engage unreached peoples in prayer. You can learn more at Unleashed for the Unreached.