Church Life
Mike Donahue

5 Suggestions for the Prayer Meeting

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 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Mike Donahue


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    Suggestions for a prayer meeting. Open with three songs in worship and adoration. Break into groups of 3 to 6 people praying for items in the list below starting at the top. Pray for 15 minutes.Worship one or two songs Break into groups again continue down the list. Complete this three or four times.This way everyone prays at least three times.

    Thanksgiving Expressing gratitude to God for all that He has done for us, whether big or small.
    Supplication Asking God to intervene in a particular situation.


    OPTION 1: Praise God for His glorious attributes and characteristics.

    OPTION 2: Read aloud one of these passages: 1 Chron 16:8-36; 1 Chron 29:10-13; Psalm 100; 103; 113:1-5; Isa 40:28-31; Dan 2:20-23; Rom 11:33-36; Col 1:15-20; Rev 5:9-14.


    OPTION 1: Use these passages to ask God to reveal to you un-confessed sin in your life. Ps 32:1-5; Ps 38; Ps 51; Ps 139:23-24; Jer 17:9-10; 1 John 1:6-10;

    The following list will help us remember and repent of times that we have done something God has told us not to do.

    Addiction (1 Cor 6:12)
    Anger (Prov 14:29; Jas 1:19-20)
    Anxiety (Phil 4:6)
    Bitterness (Heb 12:15)
    Blame Shifting (Gen 3:12-13)
    Boastfulness (1 Cor 4:7)​
    Covetousness (Ex 20:17)
    Divisiveness (Tit 3:10)
    Substance Abuse (Eph 5:18)
    Envy (Prov 14:30)
    Fear of Man (Prov 29:25)
    Gluttony (Prov 23:20-21)
    Gossip (1 Tim 5:13)
    Greed (Psa 10:3)
    Hatred (Prov 10:12)
    Hostility (2 Cor 12:20)
    Idolatry (Eze 14:3-6)
    Impure Thoughts (Phil 4:8)
    Insecurity (Matt 12:20)
    Jealousy (1 Cor 3:3)
    Judgmental (1 Cor 4:5; Luke 6:41)
    Laziness (2 Thess 3:11)
    Legalism (Gal 2:15-16)
    Materialism (Luke 12:15)
    People Pleasing (Gal 1:10)
    Prejudice (Gal 3:28)
    Pride (James 4:6-10)
    Profane Language (Eph 4:29)
    Resentment (1 Cor 13:5)​
    Revenge (Rom 12:17-21)
    Sexual Lust (Matt 5:27-30)
    Slander (Eph 4:31)
    Stubbornness (Deut 10:16)

    The following list will help us remember and repent of times that we have not done something God has told us to do.

    So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17)

    Loving God and Neighbour (Matt 22:37-39)
    Making Disciples (Matt 28:18-20)
    Patient (1 Cor 13:4; Gal 5:22)
    Kind (1 Cor 13:4; Gal 5:22)
    Forgiving (Eph 4:32; Matt 18:21-35)
    Submissive to Church Leaders (Heb 13:17)
    Submissive to Government (Rom 13:1-2)
    Submissive to Husband (Eph 5:22)
    Sacrificially loving to Wife (Eph 5:25)
    Peaceful (James 3:17; Gal 5:22)
    Gentle (James 3:17; Gal 5:23)
    Unceasing in Prayer (1 Thess 5:17)
    Bold in Witness (Eph 6:19-20)
    Content (1 Tim 6:8)
    Generous (Prov 11:24-25; 1 Tim 6:18)
    Trusting (1 Cor 13:7)
    Sexually Pure (1 Thess 4:3)
    Faithful (Gal 5:22)
    Self-Controlled (2 Tim 1:7)
    Holy (1 Pet 1:14-16; Heb 12:14)
    Delighting in God’s Law (Psa 1:1-2)
    Repentant (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:20)
    Obedient (Luke 6:46)
    Self-Denying (Mark 8:34)
    Rejoicing in the Lord (Phil 4:4)
    Welcoming (Rom 15:7)
    Thankful (Eph 5:20)
    Fellowshipping (Heb 10:24-25; Acts 2:42)
    Hospitable (Heb 13:1-2)
    Humble (Phil 2:3-11)
    Honouring Parents (Eph 6:1-3)
    Living by Faith (Heb 11:6; Rom 14:23)


    OPTION 1: Spend some time thanking God for the forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life that we have in Jesus Christ! (Rom 8:1; 2 Cor 5:21; 2 Cor 9:15; 1 Pet 3:18)

    OPTION 2: Complete this Sentence: “Lord, I thank you for …” Here’s a list of things that we can be thankful for, use this list as a spring board for more thankfulness!

    Lord, I thank You for …
    1. salvation in Jesus name!
    2. the freedom we have to worship in Canada!
    3. allowing us to be a part of Your work here!
    4. our wonderful church family!
    5. bringing new people to our church family!
    6. for 150+ people in fellowship through small groups
    7. our new babies born this past year!
    8. our children in Harvest Kids!
    9. the development of our youth and young adult ministries!
    10. the many stories of God at Work!
    11. continued brokenness over our sin!
    11. continuing to refine us to be more like Jesus!
    12. 14 baptisms since September!
    13. meeting ALL of our financial needs!
    14. our partnership with Harvest Nicaragua!
    15. our commitment to local and global missions!
    16. allowing us to meet at Sir Winston!
    17. our custodian at Sir Winston
    18. our office space!
    19. our committed team of staff and volunteers!
    20. leading and guiding us each step of the way!


    1. the PRESENCE of God
    Ex 33:18
    a. that God would show up in our services & small groups (Psa 22:3; Matt 18:20)
    b. that God’s presence would bring conviction of sin to the unrepentant (1 Cor 15:24-25); comfort to the hurting (Psa 34:18); and joy to all (Psa 16:11)

    2. the PURPOSE of our Church
    a. that we would glorify God (1 Cor 10:31)
    b. that we would make disciples (Matt 28:18-20)
    c. that we would love God (Matt 22:37-39)

    3. the PILLARS of our church
    a. unapologetic preaching (2 Tim 4:2)
    b. unashamed worship (John 4:23-24)
    c. unceasing prayer (Eph 6:18)
    d. unafraid witness (Eph 6:19-20)

    4. the PEOPLE of Niagara region
    2 Pet 3:9
    a. the many lost that need to hear about Jesus (Rom 10:13-15)
    b. nominal, lukewarm “Christians” to get fired up (Rev 3:14-22)
    c. the Bible based churches in Niagara

    5. the PROVISION of Needs
    2 Cor 9:8
    a. God’s provision for us financially as a church through the generosity of His people (2 Cor 8-9)
    b. God to provide more people to partner with us in serving in ministry at Harvest (1 Pet 4:11)
    c. godly leaders to be identified and trained as leaders & elders (2 Tim 2:2)

    6. the PLACE where We Worship
    a. salvation for the staff & students at Sir Winston
    b. that God would guide us to a more permanent facility.

    7. PEACE and UNITY in our Church
    2 Cor 13:11
    a. that we would consider the interests of others above our own (Phil 2:4)
    b. that we would speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15)
    c. Harvest’s relationship with other churches in the Niagara area

    11. the POWER of the Holy Spirit in Our Lives
    Eph 3:14-16
    a. power to defeat sin in our lives (Rom 8:13)
    b. power to overcome difficulties in our marriages and relationships


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    Nice, brother. Thanks.

    Consistent with what Tim says above, it would be helpful for the brethren to expect to make some preparation for the prayer meeting (and for all meetings). I see this as a thread throughout your post.

    The issues we face with prayer meetings are symptoms of bigger things.

    Christians have busy lives, which makes it difficult to spend the time needed to hold up the weight-bearing beams of the assembly.

    Christians have filled our lives with things that diminish the importance of the assembly in our lives (the assembly—indeed the Lord—has become ONE of the important things in our lives, and perhaps not even the most important ONE).

    We are scattered, geographically. Maybe it’s urban sprawl. Maybe it’s an issue of fewer assemblies. Who knows? But I am hearing more and more about what a hassle it is to GET to the meetings. Mike, you mentioned a 45 minute drive. This seems pretty common now days.

    We are scattered, spiritually. When I look into the book of Acts, I see an assembly that is ALWAYS together. It would almost have been superfluous to call a meeting, because everyone was already there. Today, we have assemblies defined by called meetings. Outside of those meetings, we don’t really spend time with (or maybe even think about) the other Christians.

    All of which is to say that—in addition to your excellent thoughts—we would be more effective at prayer if we practiced more. And we would be more effective at praying together if we spent more time together. And we would be in one accord in our corporate prayer if we came together with a prepared mind regarding what we were doing (praying) and what we were praying about.

    Thanks again, my brother.

    Much encouraged by your thoughts.


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      Right on James! I totally agree. The solution to our spiritual lethargy isn’t going to be found in reformatting our meetings. It’s going to happen in our personal prayer closest and with small groups of Christians meeting together to call out to God!


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