If anyone prayed for our first prayer service on Sunday, Thank You! God met us and gave us a great time of community prayer.
About 15 people participated, including several leaders. We provided some instructions at the beginning and then we went into our prayer time. We had selected 6 topics beforehand, and had identified a facilitator for each topic. We took each topic in turn, with the facilitator sharing for 3-5 minutes on a couple of things they were thankful for in their area and then a couple of key prayer requests as we enter 2020. We broke up into three small groups to pray for the topic, then went on to the next topic. Sticking to one topic at a time (rather than having all the prayer requests presented at the beginning) helped the group to agree together in prayer. And alternating between prayer times and sharing times kept the group focused and engaged (where a prolonged time of sharing followed by a prolonged, skipping-around prayer time tends to be disengaging).
Several people commented afterward that they were blessed by the prayer time, and each group had a lot of participation. Breaking into groups ensured that everyone got a chance to pray. We did find that a group size of about 4 was the most effective; we had one group of 6 people, and feedback from that group indicated that people didn't have as much of a chance to pray. When people think they're only going to get one turn at a given topic, they're tempted to pray longer, which exacerbates the problem, causing people to disengage a bit and making harder to agree in prayer (how do you follow the person who just prayed for everything?!).
The three of us who planned the meeting debriefed this morning and agreed that we want to continue to keep this simple and focused on prayer. We didn't have time to put together childcare for this meeting, but we agreed that that was a need going forward.
We'll be holding our next prayer service on March 29, sticking to our pattern of meeting quarterly on the 5th Sunday of the month that has 5 Sundays. (This is also the pattern for our "outside the box" serving; every month that has 5 Sundays, we use the 5th Sunday as a time of community service rather than our normal worship meeting). We're planning to meet quarterly for the first half of the year, and then to consider increasing the frequency to monthly.
Meantime, we're beginning plans for an "equipping class" to train congregation members in prayer. More to come on that.