Wed. Sep 27th, 2023

Our campaign ends in . . .
In January 2020, I was exhausted from two and a half years of church planting. I realized I couldn’t grind my way through this. I didn’t have the strength. Thankfully, despite the fatigue (or perhaps because of it), I’d been experiencing a personal renewal through consistent and intense prayer times. As I prayed, a great desire grew in me that our little church might become a praying people.

As I prayed, a great desire grew in me that our little church might become a praying people.

As I prayed, a great desire grew in me that our little church might become a praying people.

I had to admit, though, that no one who’d spent a month with our congregation would call us a praying church. Prayer was important for us, but it wasn’t a mark of our community. I felt convicted about this as a pastor, and I confessed my oversight in leadership to our leaders and congregation. Immediately, others confessed similar discontentment with our prayerlessness. We didn’t just want to be a church that values prayer. We were no longer interested in prayer as a value or topic. We longed to be praying. But what would that look like practically? Here are eight steps we took to become a more prayerful church.

1. Commit.

We decided together as a leadership team to focus on prayer. We now pray together for one-third to half of all leadership meetings. We also designated the role of a prayer lead: a person who coordinates prayer gatherings and keeps prayer at the forefront of our minds and schedules.

2. Pursue training in prayer.

Church leaders pursue training in all sorts of areas. Over the past few years, our team has sought training in preaching, small groups, and children’s ministry. So I began to ask, Why not train in prayer as well? We made it a point to read books on prayer and seek outside training. We’ve learned by studying history how God has worked through smaller prayer gatherings to birth breakthrough moments of renewal.

3. Teach and preach on prayer.

We believe God is worth seeking, seeking him in prayer is an essential ministry of the church, and our lives and churches are powerless apart from doing so. So over the past two years, I’ve preached regularly on prayer. We also added a seminar on prayer to our membership class, and we regularly review our convictions about prayer in our worship gatherings.

4. Set aside nights for prayer.

After studying and teaching, we moved to action. Our team committed to two prayer nights per month. Even as COVID-19 restrictions moved us into a season of social distancing and virtual gatherings, we didn’t give up meeting together to pray. We met over Zoom, and we set the pattern of getting into prayer within the first 10 minutes so that we’re spending 80–90 full minutes in intercession.

5. Make congregational prayer a regular part of your worship.

Though we’d previously practiced congregational prayer sporadically, we began to pray congregationally during every Sunday gathering. Between songs, one of our worship leaders will set a theme and invite people to pray. At first, four to six people from the congregation prayed aloud before we moved to the next song. As we’ve grown in attendance, we now invite members to pray from the front with a microphone or to share a personal testimony about their own experience in prayer.

6. Introduce prayer nights to small groups.

We learn to pray by praying with others. Because our church emphasizes small groups, we already have members meeting in homes throughout the week. By introducing more dedicated prayer nights into those group meetings, we’ve helped our people to become more comfortable with corporate prayer.

7. Call the church to 24-hour prayer times.

On several occasions, we’ve called the church to 24 hours of prayer. We’ve done these 24-hour prayer emphases around a season of need or on Good Friday in preparation for Easter. We email out a spreadsheet with 30-minute time slots for the given 24-hour period. Church members sign up for at least one time slot that works for their schedule. Then we provide a prayer guide for them to follow during their allotted time.

8. Partner with other churches for regional or citywide prayer.

We’ve made space to pray with leaders and members from other congregations. We know that whenever God brings renewal to a city, it flows through many churches and ministries, and prayer is always involved. I schedule several regular prayer times each month with pastors around our city, and our church has also gathered to pray with other congregations throughout the past two years.
Our church is now just over two years into our commitment to pray, and we certainly haven’t “mastered prayer,” but I can say we’ve become a praying church.
Jeremy Linneman serves as the lead pastor of Trinity Community Church in Columbia, Missouri, near the University of Missouri. He previously spent seven years as a staff pastor of Sojourn Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and is also completing his DMin at Covenant Theological Seminary. Jeremy and his wife, Jessie, have three sons and spent most of their free time outdoors.
Here’s a collection of newly released Advent resources—books, music, and more—to help you slow down and savor the rich devotional beauty of this season.


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