Who to invite
Workers prayer meetings are for actual or would be Christian workers. Don’t invite people to the meeting who are so young in the Lord that you wouldn’t feel comfortable talking plainly about outreach and follow up specifics in their presence. Remember, it’s easier to invite someone later than to un-invite someone. On the other hand, excited young Christians usually take to these meetings quite well.
Summary – Orientation (5 min.)
The meeting leader should share a few words on where our group is at this point. This summary could include a brief review of past progress – “We started our campaign for outreach two months ago, and so far we’ve seen five first timers at home church. We’ve seen an additional nine specific answers to prayer, where people have been able to witness to someone…etc."
Then look at the objective evidence about your present state – “But we still haven’t seen any definite conversions or additions to cell groups, so we have a lot more to pray for…”
The purpose of this part is to coalesce the group’s thinking and attention to the task at hand. We need to all be on the same page when it comes to our view of the home church’s progress.
Progress assessment (15-20 min.)
The heart of this part is your prayer list. Names on a prayer list should be paired with the person who is leading the witnessing to that person. Starting with the names you had from last time, go over each one and ask whether anything additional has happened. If nothing has happened, ask whether it’s likely that anything will happen this week.
Part of our goal during this part is to have a prayer list that actually reflects what is happening. If names are on the list that are not actively being witnessed to, we should remove them there and then. This means several names will be removed each week. Explain to the group that the ideal for the list is that it contain only two kinds of people:
- Those who have been to a meeting or event within the past month
- and those who were witnessed to (or pre-evangelistic talk) during the past week or so.
Explain that you aren’t giving up on names removed from the list, but that you are focusing attention on the more urgent needs this week. If someone is unhappy about their friend being removed from the list, explain they can get them back on by witnessing to them!
An alternative (softer) approach would be to have three columns:
- Action this week
- Attended during past month
- Other prayer requests
But point out that you only have time to pray for the left two columns at this meeting.
For those who have showed up recently, ask the group what follow up plan is in place – who is on it? Are any times of contact expected? How do we see their response so far? Have they received Christ? What do we think is their attitude re. further involvement? What’s the next step we should pray for? What are key barriers we can pray away?
Next, add new names, based on the fact that someone witnessed to the person, or had a meaningful talk, or invited them to a meeting or event. These “this week” names should be written in by hand at the meeting and will appear in print next time.
Finally, when the final prayer list is agreed to, ask who wants to volunteer to pray for each name on the list. The volunteer will try to pray for the person each day that week. A leader can send a daily email to the home church list to remember to pray to your person as a reminder.
During the assessment, be sure not to miss opportunities to encourage people. Those who were able to witness or do effective follow up should be praised in the presence of all for their work. Those who are discouraged should be reminded that some people just aren’t willing, that some people require multiple invitations, that you still haven’t heard a clear “no,” that maybe you should back off for awhile and try again in a couple of weeks, etc.
The leader guides how to think about ministry during this period, and has powerful ability to affect people’s perspective on their work. Don’t be negative unless you are seeing lack of effort.
Also during this period, take a few minutes to discuss the group’s participation and contribution to the most recent home church meeting. If people were passive, if the prayer was flat, if people left too early, the leader may need to express some strong dissatisfaction. If there was improvement, if the meeting was exciting, this is a time to reinforce and enjoy the fruit of a strong body life meeting. These are important victories that your people need to hear feedback on.
Finally, review recent and upcoming outreach events. These could be major (like a C&C event or outreach party for the whole church) or small (like a couple that had friends over for a dinner party or a few guys who took friends out to a sporting event. If two couples are planning a neighborhood cookout or someone is starting a bush group at work, these should be prayed for in advance. Put these events on the prayer list also.
Prayer (15-20 min.)
During prayer, we suggest your group begin with a time of praise and thanksgiving. You may want to specifically suggest this, so that your time of prayer is done in context of a faithful and powerful God who will answer. This prevents negativity during prayer, and enables members to take their seat with Christ before asking for help. During this part, we are really presenting ourselves to God “as those alive from the dead,” rather than in Adam. Your praise and thanksgiving should include both specific answers to prayer or unexpected blessings, and more general acknowledgement of who God is, his relation to his body, to ministry, including evangelism, etc. (“Your word declares that unless you build the house, they do labor in vain who build it, and we acknowledge that you are the Lord of the harvest, and you are eager to powerfully support our efforts to reach out…” or, “We dare to approach you right now, knowing that you have joined us to Christ and made us members of him and each other. We rejoice that you welcome us into your presence, even though you are the almighty creator of the universe.” and “We know that it makes a difference in our ministry that we’ve taken this time to pray to you, as you tell us in your word, ‘you have not because you ask not.’”)
Then, move to specific requests in connection with the people and events on the prayer list. You don’t have to feel like everything on the prayer list must be prayed over, because you also have assigned prayer through the week.
Don’t go too long during the prayer session. Teach people how to pray short, succinct prayers for the edification of all. Personal prayers usually don’t belong in this type of meeting. Long, theological prayers don’t belong. Teach your people to all feel like they should participate, either through leading in prayer, or at least through actively saying the “Amen!” Don’t let your prayer meetings be quiet and drab. Insist that the whole group needs to participate and affirm prayer. You may want to teach briefly on how to pray at your first meeting.