One of the reasons that people don’t go to a prayer meeting is that they think that it is going to be boring. Even if Christians “should” go to the prayer meeting even if it is boring there are ways to change it so boring is not the first thing that comes to mind when people hear the words, “prayer meeting.”
Reason 1: Lack of expectation that God will meet with us.
From a Bible perspective when we gather for prayer we can be assured that God is, “there in the midst of us.” But often it is the leader’s job to play the role of Elisha with his servant when he prayed, “Open his eyes.” When people expect to meet with God their attitude will be very different. As George Muller used to say, “God has dealt with me according to my expectation.”
Cure: There are ways to increase people’s expectation of meeting with God. Here are three examples of that. Songs of worship can raise our awareness that we are meeting with God and not going through religious activities. Drawing our attention to Bible passages of God’s power with His people can have the same effect. Finally, along a similar line, stories of powerful prayer meetings from history can increase expectation in the room.
Reason 2: Lack of anticipation of the importance of the meeting.
Many people in our day and age place a high value on time. Things are equated with boring if they are considered a waste of time. I think that is part of the reason that people, especially men, often skip the prayer meeting for other activities. Overcoming this perception can increase the attendance of the prayer meeting.
Cure: One of the ways to help people to see the importance of the prayer meeting is to line up the agenda of the prayer meeting with important items. When the early disciples met for prayer in Acts chapter 4 about the persecution they were facing no one probably questioned the importance of the meeting. And the room was shaken. Maybe make the agenda for your prayer service the Big Hairy Audacious Goals that God has put on your heart for the church. Maybe put signs around the room with pictures of lost people in need of God.
Reason 3: Leaders governed by obligation instead of desperation in calling the meeting.
I was a senior pastor for about nine years before starting this ministry back in 2005. There always seemed like there was more to do than I had time to do it. It is easy with that type of environment to feel like a prayer service is just another item on the list of things to do. If this is how the leader feels it will quickly be felt by everyone else and drain the energy in the room.
Cure: There are two steps to overcoming this challenge. Both are important. First, the leader needs to reconnect with their “why.” This may be as simple as changing the agenda of the prayer meeting like we talked about in the last reason. The second part is to set up the time and structure of the prayer meeting as the leader so that you want to come. Don’t feel obligated to have a morning prayer service if you are a night owl. Maybe to start with a 30 minute prayer service before Sunday morning is better than adding another night to your agenda when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Reason 4: No balance of spontaneity and predictability.
There is nothing wrong with routine in your prayer service. Structure can provide security to people who are new to a prayer meeting. Knowing what is happening next can even help the veterans of the prayer service feel comfortable to focus on prayer. But structure can also create boredom if we are not careful.
Cure: Hopefully you will see that the first three reasons are foundational to fixing this challenge as well. Let me encourage you as leader to create a simple broad stroke plan with predictable parts, but don’t be afraid to change to follow the moment. Let the components be like your playbook that gives you the comfort to call an audible with confidence.
Over the history of the church the prayer service has often been the moments that changed the course of churches and countries. May your prayer service be with expectation as you meet with God and do the work of prayer that changes the world.