Yesterday I wrote about prayer as an essential ingredient of missional community life. Today I want to suggest some practical ways you can develop a life of prayer together.
I think one of the best ways of doing this is to develop some regular rhythms that fit your context and life well. One of the ways of doing this is to develop and maintain a steady and regular rhythm of prayer that runs throughout the year and then have specific times and seasons that you cut back on some of the other activities and focus on prayer. We have often used Lent or Advent for this, but the period we’re in between Easter and Pentecost is also brilliant – after all that’s when Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power.
One Lent a few of us committed to meet together each week to pray for our community, it was a great time of meeting God together; at other times we’ve run regular early morning prayer times to get people up and praying. These tend to work better if they’re developed “for a season” – only the very hardcore will commit to something if they think it’s forever. We’re also big fans of 24-7 Prayer and their prayer room idea. It’s a great way of getting a community, or a network of communities, to commit together to focus on prayer for a chunk of time. Find out more at www.24-7prayer.com
It’s also good to remember to keep your prayers 3d!* Get a good mix of worship and adoration for God, waiting on His Spirit to hear what He has to say, bringing the needs and concerns of the community to him together, and praying as intercessors for your friends, neighbourhood and for the world… oh and don’t forget to get people praying and offering prayer in public places to normal people – a great way of bringing the up and out together.
As you develop your prayer rhythm remember to be creative! Prayer doesn’t have to follow one way or pattern. Often the mid-size community is a great place to experiment with something a bit more creative and discover that God’s Spirit really breathes life into it. We’ve sung prayers, painted prayers, burned prayers, pinned them to trees, and written them on paper lanterns. What we’ve found is creativity works great, but it’s often good to pause after “doing” a prayer to let the group reflect together and share anything they felt God was saying. Prepare to be surprised how well creativity can open people up to God’s presence!
Right: it’s over to you. I’d love us to get a bank of prayer ideas in the comments below. Please write down ways that your community prays, let us know what has worked and how you’ve seen God answer you. Here are 3 to get you started:
- Names of God
Get a large piece of paper and some different coloured pens. Ask the group to write on the paper as many different names or descriptions of God as they can remember from the Bible. Once the paper is filled spend a little time reading the names and ask people to respond to ones that strike them. What do you need God to be like for you today, what do you need to pray He is like for someone else? The last time we did this God took us really deep into his presence quite quickly!
- Text prayers
One of our communities decided that they wanted to go deeper with “in” style prayers. They committed together to text each other with a prayer request each week and pray about the texts each other were sending. They got very excited when God started to answer these! You can also do this easily with Facebook and other social media.
- “My frontline” prayer cards
This is an idea we pinched and adapted from LICC. It’s great to get people thinking about where they spend their lives and what God might do there – make a simple postcard with the following questions:
- Where do you spend most of your day (work, home, school etc.)?
- What would you like God to do there?
- What can I pray for you?
- What can I pray for your colleagues?
- Whose salvation can I pray for?
Get people to fill these in, then swap them round. Ask people to pray for their person in the week. Keep coming back to these and reminding each other to pray, so that a habit develops.
What other ideas do you have?
Ben Askew lives in Deal, in the far south-east of England. He is married to the beautiful and talented Helen and they have two children. Ben and Helen have been involved in leading missional communities for the last 10 years and are particularly passionate about seeing the emerging generations discover God’s love. Right now they are working for a church in Deal whilst Ben is also training for ordination. You can connect with Ben more at benaskew.tumblr.com
* By this I mean, upwards – in your relationship towards God, inwards – in your relationships with others in the church and outwards – seeking to be good news to different people and places in the world.