Though Wednesday nights are typically assigned as a prayer meeting in certain “Baptist” churches, the Sunday morning gathering may contain very little substantial corporate prayer. As a personal observation, there was a time when I dreaded being called on to pray at random by the preacher. The fear did not come because I did not want to pray, but that I was not prepared to pray at that moment. In search for a coherent thought, I would stammer and give the most general of prayers: “Lord, thank you for the message. Help us to obey it. Amen.”
I do think there is a simple way in order to press upon a congregation the importance and power of prayer. One way is to elevate prayer to a key part of the worship service. This can be first exemplified by the pastor since he often has opportunity to pray. Simply taking the time before hand and plan out the opening prayer in stead of allowing it to be an impromptu exercise can go a long way to teaching others to pray. Church history is full of men who wrote prayers: the contemporary church can learn a lot from those prayers and perhaps even write its own.
A second way to encourage good corporate prayer is by taking out the element of surprise. Some churches call on men and women of the church to offer up prayers. Often this is done impromptu and the person who is called on to pray may not have been prepared to pray at that time and offer up a well meaning but distracted prayer. Perhaps the worship leader can let the person who will be offering the prayer know a week ahead of time. One practice that was helpful in one church I attended as a teenager was that the scripture reading for that service was assigned prior to the actual reading. The negative side was that the assignment was only about 10 minutes before the reading, but it’s a good step none the less.
If churches are serious about the place of prayer – a proposition that I believe and accept but have not articulated here – they will take the time to think ahead and plan out the place of prayer in the service. We know that Sunday is just around the corner and that prayers will be made – should’t we be prepared for them?