prayer.gifI was privileged to have dinner here in Austin a few weeks ago with prayer leader and teacher Dan Henderson and another friend. I told him that there is a quote I've used many times which I had thought he had said and he confirmed it again for me. "If you want to have a crowd, don't call a prayer meeting."

And while there are exceptions, settings for group prayer don't typically require overflow seating. Yes, many Christians haven't yet embraced the power and impact of praying or don't feel comfortable praying with others so they avoid corporate prayer settings. We ought to continue to teach on prayer's importance and how to meaningfully pray with others to help change their thinking and posture on prayer.

However, others don't come for a variety of other reasons that are just part of life. Prayer times aren't always practical for many people, especially those with young children. Meetings are regularly in the evenings or early morning and childcare isn't usually provided.

Often we ask everyone to come to one location, the church, and yet many live thirty minutes to an hour away. Some are serving God in meaningful ways that require significant time so adding one more Christian activity simply isn't practical. It's unfair to blame them or call them unspiritual because they didn't make our prayer time.

And many people pray passionately and extensively at home, in their small group, with family members or other friends. They would argue that their prayer life is growing and thriving.  They just can't add one more church activity to their full schedule.

So let me suggest an idea that can at least enhance a church's prayer ministry and impact while understanding the limitations and uniquenesses of today's culture. We tried this on the National Day of Prayer this year and have seen a couple of other Austin churches use it for special prayer emphases.

First we asked people to give us their texting number or best email if they were willing to join others in prayer for the church, city and country the first Thursday in May. Then that day we put out two postings every hour that they would get via email or text to pray for. We asked them to pray right then for that request if possible. The postings also included video and musical options for meditation and praise. We added the same postings to our church Facebook and Twitter pages as well.

Many people told us how much they appreciated being included in the prayer day even though they couldn't come to our campus (we had a 12-1 group time at the church as well). And while our data is limited as to the total response we are confident that hundreds were involved in some way this year compared to only dozens when we had a longer prayer day exclusively at our church.

What if more groups around the world used a similar system to encourage prayer with them about a particular issue, conference or initiative?  Who knows the potential impact!

So perhaps we need to accept that gathering together these days to pray may take on new looks and methodology so that when we ask people to pray we more often than not actually get a crowd. I'm pretty convinced God would like that.

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