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Pastor Questionnaire Responses

Prayer Connect recently asked 30 pastors to respond to a questionnaire about developing a culture of prayer in their church. Parts of these responses were put into the article From Intentional to Instinctive. Below are the questions we asked and the complete responses of each pastor.

Responses

These are the full responses of the pastor's who filled out the Culture of Prayer Questionnaire that made up the theme article "From Intentional to Instinctive."

Name: Pastor J. “Scott” Roberts
Church: Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
Ave weekend service attendance: 100-125

1. If you hear a church described as trying to Have a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

To me it means that the church is desiring to immerse everything in prayer and have prayer become an integral part of every gathering, discussion, decision, etc. A culture of prayer goes well beyond merely opening and closing a meeting in prayer.  Instead it becomes a way of being and living, where every believer is constantly communicating with their Savior and seeking to be in a firm connection and awareness of God.  A culture of prayer exists when the leadership of the church sets the example and dedicates themselves to praying and studying Scripture.  A culture of prayer exists when believers continuously weave prayer into their conversations and decision making.

A culture of prayer exists when the corporate body earnestly desires to gather for nothing more than to praise God and seek his face.  A culture of prayer exists when the leadership spend as much time praying during their business meetings as they spend “doing business”.  A culture of prayer exists when a body is confronted with time constraints and the events they choose to cut are not the prayer events, then the church truly believes that prayer is their lifeline and connection to the Triune God.

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

Prayer should be foundational and of such importance that it is on an equal footing with the other 3 elements in the corporate body.

Unfortunately, there are too many churches that have abandoned the Acts 2:42 paradigm and have elevated teaching and fellowship above prayer and the sacraments.  All four are to be the hall marks of our weekly gathering and our daily life.  In the life of the leadership of the church, prayer and the word are to be co-equal – one informing the other and vice versa.  

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

Every year I give the entire congregation a book on prayer or a book on the life of a praying person and in my pastoral visiting I discuss the book with my congregants.  I try to preach a series on prayer each year, I regularly write about the importance of prayer in our monthly newsletter.  I have established monthly prayer meetings before our elder/deacon meetings where the church leaders and any congregants can come and be led in prayer according to the grand themes of scripture.  We use our congregational prayer time as a learning lab in order to expose our members to prayer that extends beyond the “aches and pains” prayers of many. In this time, I will ask people what they think a mature Christian life looks like and then using the responses they give we will pray for maturity and weave in other scriptures to back this up. I may ask how we can pray for the persecuted church, or for the other churches in Whatcom county.  I may lead us in times of repentance, or times of thanksgiving.

This year, we are hosting 3 conferences with outside speakers to help us grow in the process of discerning the voice of God.  So far, one of the conferences has already occurred (Fall 2012) with Dennis Fuqua of International Renewal Ministries training our elders, deacons and worship teams in the process of praying the Scriptures and to lead others in Scripture based prayer.

The Spring conferences (Feb and April 2013) will feature Alvin VanderGriend and Dan and Jodi Mayhew leading our entire congregation in times of learning to discern God’s voice individually and corporately. Additionally, I take 3-4 prayer retreats each year of 2 days each and regularly report to my council on the time as well as sharing with my congregation the things I am learning in these times. Every Pentecost, we dedicate the entire service to praying for the nations of the world.  I don’t preach a message that day, but spend a lot of time planning and facilitating times of prayer for various countries.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

It is very important.  I strongly encourage every elder and deacon to come to the monthly prayer meeting and follow up with these leaders when they don’t show up.  I ask the leaders to invite people in their districts to the meetings so the church sees the leadership moving the body in specific directions.  I have asked my elders to lead discussion groups on a book about prayer during Sunday school hours and even ask them to lead the congregation in prayer during our morning services.  Though I may help cast the vision, my desire is to see the elders lead the body.

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

Our worship teams are constantly looking for ways to tie our corporate prayers to the scripture passage for the day.  Our elders are routinely asking people how we can pray for them.  The pastor is constantly keeping on point by reviewing his own prayer life and seeking to grow in it.  Honestly, I think it is the pastor’s responsibility to keep prayer in front of everyone.  If he or she gives up this charge, the body will follow in abandoning the life of prayer.

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

The very first time I meet with a new person, I give them the book of the year and then proceed to explain to them the importance of prayer in our life.  I ask them to attend the prayer time with me and let them know that we are trying to develop a culture of prayer in our body that touches on every area of life every moment of every day.  I explain to them that every believer is called to help us stay on task.  When people get this right away, it gives them eyes to see why we pray so much and it also gives them permission to remind us when we fail to incorporate prayer into our body life.   

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

Yes and no. It is important that everyone recognize the primacy of prayer and part of how that happens is by giving it visibility. What people see is what they unconsciously think matters.  So prayer must be kept out in the open. But if the only prayers that occur in the life of a body are the “visible” ones, then prayer isn’t under girding everything.  The church must have a life of prayer that extends beyond the visible into every nook and cranny of the body’s life.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

Our congregation has responded really well to what I call “Fill in the blank prayers” or “Complete this sentence.” These prayer are often used during our corporate prayer time on Sunday mornings and they give everyone an equal footing to express something to God without the fear of needing to be eloquent or poetic.  We have found that our older congregants (over 60) will participate in this form of prayer when they wont participate in any other form of corporate prayer.  It is easy to  pray a statement like “Lord, you are …”  or “Jesus, make your church …” And it is very encouraging to the members when everyone can simply add a word or two to the sentence and we end up with a robust prayer formed by the community in which the children and the adults have all participated and asked God for things that truly matter.


Name: Dee Duke
Church: Jefferson Baptist Church
Ave weekend service attendance: 800

1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

There is a lot of prayer happening in the life of the church and a lot of emphasis on prayer from the pulpit.  Every church has activities that many if not most regular, involved attenders participate in. People in churches with a culture of prayer assume prayer is an activity that they will be involved in to some degree.

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

Prayer should be one of the major activities in the church.  Leaders should be devoted to prayer. Preach on prayer. Corporate prayer events.

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

I preach on prayer often, either as an entire sermon or a major point or illustration.

We have a prayer letter that goes out each week to over 500 people who have committed to praying for it. At the end of every worship service prayer cards are passed out and people are encouraged to fill in a prayer request and those requests go into the prayer letter. Most get it via email. Most visitors give several prayer requests. I make a point of talking about this process at the end of every service both to encourage the giving of prayer requests and to recruit more prayers.

We have about 25 small prayer groups meeting each week. 6 to 15 people in each. All “Small Groups” include at least 20 minutes of prayer in their meetings.

We have 4 major prayer events each year. They go from Monday to Friday and meet from 5 to 10 am and 5 to 10 pm each day. There is a big push from the pulpit, letters, phone tree, announcements etc. to get most to come at least once during the week.  Many will come once each day and a number will make 10 hours or more.

We have a “Concert of Prayer” once each month which would include a lot of worship. These are our entry level prayer events for most people. Easiest to get most to attend who are intimidated by corporate prayer.

We push big time husbands praying with their wives and in all accountability groups, which are a big thing in our church, that would be included as an accountability item.

We teach via workshops, seminars, sermons, the importance and the “how to” of private prayer.

We plan a “prayer walking” mission trip to a closed country once each year, such as Vietnam, China etc. Usually get about a dozen people to go. Advertise and encourage before and testimonies after the trip.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

Each leader is asked to write their personal and ministry goals for the year and to include their prayer goals. These would be their involvement in corporate prayer, private prayer and the praying that they would do with their wife and family. At every meeting goals are reviewed and each leader would share how they are doing in accomplishing their goals. That accountability is working well to keep each faithful to prayer. There is no minimum expected but they all tend to go beyond what would have been expected on their own.

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

Lots of preaching on prayer, testimonies on prayer, prayer events.

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

From the sermons and announcements but the main strategy that we have to get new people involved in prayer is our monthly “concerts of prayer”. Written invitations are sent to all new people and to people who have not yet attended one.  I do some simple, short, basic teaching at the concert of prayer on what we call “prayer etiquette” so new or novice prayers will feel comfortable. We work at making them upbeat and enjoyable.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

I would say yes. The value of prayer will be determined by people in the church by how much visibility that it has.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

Our quarterly “Five Days of Prayer” is probably the most successful on the basis of the number of people and the total amount of praying that happens.  We pray 10 hours a day for five days. 5 to 10 am and pm. We usually have about 30 people at each hour of prayer. One “Five Day Prayer Event” is held at the end of January and the topic is our Missions ministry. We pray for missionaries and the work that we are involved in, in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The next one is the week before Easter. We pass out cards in weekend worship services for 3 or 4 weeks before the five days of prayer asking people to write down the names of unsaved friends, neighbors, and relatives that they could invite to the Easter outreach event and those cards are what we pray for. The next one is at the beginning of September and we focus on all the ministries of the church and ask God’s blessings on what we are doing. The last one is the week before our Christmas outreach event and it is the same as Easter in emphasis.



Mike Sager
Senior Pastor, Faith Church
Austin, Minnesota
 
1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

A culture of prayer is a church that has prayer as a part of its DNA, you might say. Prayer is a part of its thinking and practice. People live with a mindset of talking with God, regularly, about everything. They listen for His leading. They pray with and for one another regularly. Prayer is a part of everything they do. (In other words, they bring God tangibly into whatever they are doing).

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

Leaders especially should commit to the priority of prayer. There is an interesting parallel between Acts and 1 Samuel 12. Samuel, even though he would no longer be the judge for the people (they wanted a king) would still be their spiritual leader. Not only would he teach them “the good and right way,” but he saw failure to pray for them as sinning against God. Do we as spiritual leaders carry the same commitment and passion for praying for others? Convicting, to say the least.

Prayer is clearly then, a part of the foundation of “ministry” in the church. The trick becomes finding out how we can indeed help it to become practiced and acknowledged as such (back to the idea of creating a culture of prayer).

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

I too, as a leader have to first own the priority of prayer myself. Is it foundational to my own life? Is my prayer life “healthy”? So I want to model a healthy understanding of, and commitment to prayer, and I want to teach it continually. Not only from the pulpit, but in every gathering and significant meeting I have with others (especially leaders). It might be as simple as asking for prayer requests, or it could be starting out board or elder meetings with questions about prayer, to help us process, learn and grow together.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

If leaders are not in synch about prayer, then we keep plodding, and praying, until they are. If leaders don’t have a common conviction and practice about prayer priority, then a culture of prayer cannot be developed in a ministry. It has to be caught as well as taught.

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

Much of that is up to our leaders. We stress it constantly. We hire staff that has spiritual formation as a top priority. We pray about our need for a healthy culture of prayer. Our leader are growing in their practice of praying with others regularly (in the lobby, during conversations, over the phone, etc.). That kind of modeling (if it comes from prayerful lives) will be a good and constant reminder of prayer’s importance and priority for our body.

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

Hopefully they will see us practice prayer in a very “natural” way (corporately and individually). They will hear it’s importance spoken of and taught on in different venues and in all contexts. And Lord willing, they will have opportunity to pray with, or be prayed for, by others in our congregation.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

Yes, for the aforementioned reasons and examples. It shouldn’t be just a “show.” I suppose the distinction or earmark of authenticity is that it stems from personal healthy prayer lives, and is not just seen as an activity one does at church, or with other believers, before meetings, or at meals, etc.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

We have encouraged our leaders to look for 2 people every Sunday. One that they don’t know (very well) in order to meet, befriend, and perhaps introduce strategically to others. Another is someone that they can pray with (right then and there) or minister to in some way. As our leaders remember to practice this, it definitely helps with building a characteristic into the body--one of bringing the Lord tangibly into our relationships and experiences.

Name: Phil Bennett
Church: Pastor of Prayer and Congregational care for Concord First Assembly/Concord,NC
Ave weekend service attendance: 3000
 
1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

A consciousness of people humbling themselves to pray first to God for their needs to be met.
         
2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?
          
We encourage attenders to pray daily and read the word daily.We have a program called Brave Christian where we encourage among other things reading through the Word in a year. We encourage people to listen to God speak through the Word and prayer and to journal what you hear.There are 800 people in this program.
         
3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

We have congregational prayer in our services,and take prayer requests before smaller meetings.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

We ask people for a commitment to pray and hour a week for the ministries of the church.We call them Watchmen and when you get 168 spread out over all the hours of a week you get unceasing 24/7 prayer. We have over 600 committed to pray as Watchmen.

We find people learn to pray by doing it--not going to seminars or hearing how others do it.


Name: Paul Covert         
Church: Central Christian
Ave weekend service attendance:8,000
 
1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

A culture of prayer is a culture that does not  just talk about prayer but actually prays over events, decisions, and looks for way to introduce prayer into every ministry in the church.

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

I view it as the means of getting direction for the vision, culture, and ministry of the church.  As you know most churches plan their calendar and then ask God to bless what they have decided to do.  A prayer devoted church is a listening church--listening for God’s direction.

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

He talks about prayer occasionally in his messages and has hired a prayer pastor to champion the cause of prayer.  Prayer is one of our 6 core values.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

It is vital. It will not happen without this.

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

I am not sure we do a good job of this… We have schools of prayer, prayer conferences, a prayer newsletter, prayer partners, and social media posts but  we have a long way to go for Prayer to be kept on the forefront of what we do.

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

Maybe our prayer partners at the end of each service…. After each service we will have 8 or so people who come forward for prayer and we pray with them right at the stag.  This would indicate that we take prayer seriously.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

Yes, because it keep prayer on the minds of the people. Out of sight out of mind.



Name: Nick Cardases
Church: Trinity Evangelical Missionary Church (Nick was the interim pastor for a number of years at Trinity and recently completed his assignment.)
Ave weekend service attendance: 115

1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

Such a church would have everything born out of prayer, rather than prayer being one of its ministries.

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

It should be the foundation from whence we do what we do. Here we hear from God and serve Him in holiness and mission as a result.

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

By making sure that so far as I have an influence, prayer has a foundational role in all of the above mentioned events.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

Very important. So I spent a good amount of time in our prayer portable (Trinity has a small portable building next to its main building that is primarily used for prayer.) for every person in the church, all the ministries and areas I wanted to see established and new areas I discerned God wanted to see introduced. I also made prayer a priority on Sunday morning--it took a third of the service, while worship and the sermon took the other two thirds.

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

It was not there yet, but moving in that direction while I was there. We introduced prayer on Sunday morning. Prayer at midweek [service] was Spirit-led rather than list-led, though we were always willing to pray for what burdens people came with. However, we asked God what He wanted us to pray for. We also had an hour pre-service prayer. We trained people in healing and freedom prayer ministry. We also had days of prayer for a while, and made available for people to come for morning prayers before people went to work. It was usually one family unit that came per morning. To a large extent though, outside of Sunday morning, it was the same core group that carried the prayer focus. Others prayed, but did not "get": it.

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

If they came on Sunday they would see that we prayed for a third of the service. Our website also mentions prayer times throughout the week as well as prayer ministry opportunities.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

Yes so people will have confidence you are praying people and will therefore come for prayer and for help. If we are not a praying people we cannot hear from God, and if we cannot hear from God we have nothing to offer.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

Giving prayer a third of the time on Sunday morning (half an hour). We have made that a cultural part of our service and people know they can ask for prayer and will be prayed for--for help, healing, etc., as well as express praise. Over time more people are willing to participate, even shy people have asked for prayer when in need. We have even had strangers and visitors come and ask for prayer.


Name:  Paul Bartnick
Church:  Alliance Church of Zephyrhills
Ave weekend service attendance:  225

1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

When I hear the phrase “culture of prayer” my first thought is “great!”  For prayer to be an integral part of the fabric of a church is essential.  More than essential it is a profound privilege we have now that the veil has been torn in two.  What I find a sense of resistance over is the thought of “trying”.  That implies making an attempt and if the desired outcome does not occur, well we gave it our best shot.  Sure we still need to pray but having prayer as a natural normal activity we have the privilege of practicing, well we just didn’t get there.  

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

For me and the church I serve we talk about having three primary pillars.  1. The Word of God, 2. Global missions and 3. Prayer.  It is through prayerful dependency that we preach the Word and engage in global missions.  In other words the role of prayer is essential.  Prayer is just as essential as preaching and teaching the Word.  Prayer is just as essential as engaging in global missions.  Without prayer we don’t know what to do next.  Our leadership meetings are often characterized with prayer that asks, “Jesus, what next?  Jesus, where do we go from here?  Father, what do you have for us now?”  

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

By actually praying.  Each Sunday before the service the Elders pray over me and the staff.  From there the staff meets with the worship team for prayer.  The service begins with prayer.  Prayer occurs at least 3 more times by the end of the service.  Prayers of thanksgiving around the offering time.  Prayers of adoration and praise after songs of worship.  Prayers of petition seeking God’s guidance during the time in the Word.  Prayer of response to the Word.  

All Board and Elders meetings begin with a season of prayer.  Not just one person praying but several and some times all members praying.  We also hold a concert of prayer on every fifth Sunday of the month.  

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

It is very important that the leaders are in synch.  I am very blessed with a group of leaders who pray and support the further development of prayer in the lives of our congregants.  If the leadership was not in synch that is where I would begin to pray.  Leadership is to be given to prayer.  If they are not they need to grow into people of prayer.  If they refuse to learn and develop a prayer life they disqualify themselves from leadership and need to be replaced.  

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

Mainly by modeling prayer at all of our meetings.  We have a weekly prayer meeting that has focused on developing various ways of praying beside the prayer of intercession for physical/material needs of people.  Learning about listening prayer, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, etc.  We also have begun a ministry called Journey into Prayer.  Last year we hosted two modules that focused on Journey into Prayer- developing a personal prayer life.  This year the two modules will focus on developing our corporate prayer life.  The response by the people has been very encouraging as we hear testimonies by people who are growing in their personal prayer life.  

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

I would like to think that it would not take long for someone new to recognize the significance of prayer because of the pre-eminence of prayer in all that we do.  That the explanation for life transformation is due to the power of God changing lives through the Word and prayer.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

If prayer is not visible and only assumed, well we know all about assume.  But making prayer visible just to get more people to pray is not the right motive.  We pray at all times and on all occasions because it is a right, a privilege, a responsibility and a natural part of an on going, growing, knowing relationship with Jesus Christ.  If people only pick up that prayer is just a thing that Christians are suppose to do, well, now we have made a good Pharisee.  We pray.  We model prayer and teach about prayer so people will connect with Jesus Christ in very real and personal ways.  So that people will grow into the fullness of Christ in me.  

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

We have a Wednesday Night Prayer meeting.  I know most prayer meetings have gone the way of the dinosaur but not for us.  The meeting averages about 10% of the Sunday morning average attendance.  Our church is over 75 years old.  It is my conviction that the reason why this church that is over 75 years old is still making a difference in the community and around the world is because of prayer and our prayer meeting.  The people who come do so because they want to practice the privilege of prayer.  They want to bring needs before the Father.  They want to worship and adore our Savior Jesus Christ.  They want to see a spiritual awakening and revival come to our church and our country.  They pray because they have come to understand the purpose of prayer in their on going, growing personal relationship with Jesus.  

This year I believe the Lord has directed me to lead the Wednesday Night Prayer meeting in a different way.  Each Sunday we place in the bulletin the daily schedule for reading through the Bible in a year.  Each week it is updated for the next week.  What we are doing on Wednesday night is pausing to look at how God is speaking to us through our reading through the Bible.  As we identify how God is speaking to us we then ask, how does that guide us in prayer?  So as we read through the Bible in a year we are also praying through the Bible in a year.  So far it has been rather interesting as God’s Word guides us to pray for ourselves, one another and various needs.  



Name: Rev. David Chotka
Church: Spruce Grove Alliance Church, Spruce Grove, Albert
Ave weekend service attendance: 850 over three services. (One Saturday, two Sunday)

1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

A culture of prayer means that each ministry, each outreach, each mission, each worship service, and each leader has praying leaders, praying ministries, and that each major area of endeavor have an clearly identified Prayer team. Prayer is a significant factor in board governance and staff meetings. eAch pastor is required to have a structured daily prayer life.

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

With no prayer, all labor is merely flesh. Jesus did nothing unless he discerned the mind of the Father, and then entered into what He perceived in the Spirit. This is the model for us to learn, and to emulate.

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

Each year we hold a Deeper Life Prayer event (this year the theme was discernment). I have written on prayer, and have used the book as a training tool for elders, staff and missions teams. In addition, once a month our entire staff has a day of prayer together. We minister to each other and pray into the events, the timing, the calendar, the year themes, etc.  The elders do a yearly elder retreat, and this year we have had two dedicated elder prayer events (in conjunction with our Deeper Life presenters coming here). I write prayer resources for our denomination and then “test-run” them locally. I have a prayer captain who is developing an altar prayer team (we had one before, but the leader moved away--this is a re-start).  We link prayer to missions--and establish prayer teams with testimony times around how these prayer partners sensed a link with the unfolding events in the respective missions.
I also lead two studies--one on Sunday evenings, and the other on Wednesday nights. We offer Prayer 101 (getting started--using Maxie Dunnam’ Workbook of Living Prayer), and Prayer 102 (using Power Praying) in alternating cycles…  

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

I personally interview each prospective elder and ask this question bluntly. Also, when hiring pastoral staff, my primary question is always, “How do you hear the Lord’s voice?” and then inquire into their devotions and the link between prayer and action. As I said above, the staff must be prayerful, or they won’t work with me. We have a day of prayer once a month. Often, my role is to step into the various pastor’s offices and carve out an hour to pray with each one over whatever issue is arising. Our elders pray for fully an hour before moving into any kind of organizational discussion. Currently, I am developing a discernment process to use for decision-making. It is “shot-through” with prayer and prayer discernment.

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

Every year, my congregation has a deeper Life prayer event. We bring in featured presenters who sound out the message that prayer is primary to any Christian endeavor. We also have a dedicated prayer room, and nothing gets booked into that unless it is a prayer meeting, or a solo prayer person, needing solitude. We have had all night prayer meetings, prayer-around a  purpose times, seasons of fasting, and we have dedicated prayer partners for each international mission and evangelistic mission we enter into.  We teach prayer at Wednesday cycles (we offer an inexpensive meal, and follow that with classes throughout the campus of the church). Two or three of the options are either prayer or prayer related, each semester. We have prayer-by appointment teams for men and women, Monday evening men’s prayer, Tuesday morning women’s prayer, and various prayer meetings that happen on a regular basis.

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

I would tell them about my prayer book, invited them to prayer meetings, invite them to altar prayer times, pray “in service” as the Spirit prompts, invited them to the prayer deeper life events, and ask them if they would want to become prayer partners for any ministry. Every year in January I teach a stewardship series, and it includes the stewardship of prayer. This year, I will use a 30 day challenge event called “The Great Experiment” and ask people to test out five disciplines for thirty days--and it includes a dedicated solo prayer time (with a structured approach around texts and a prayer journal), and a weekly prayer meeting with others. We publish a quarterly event brochure--and it contains our core values. The first one is Grow Up--Bible-based, Spirit-led, Prayer Saturated. Anyone new to our church receives this brochure and finds this teaching on the very first page.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

Testimony of answered prayer should be happening almost every week. It is imperative that this occur, otherwise we will simply revert to doing anything we think might please the Lord. Neither Jesus, nor the early church did this. They only acted after discerning the voice, hearing and obeying God begins with praying into the Presence, and then letting God’s Presence guide.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

Holding an annual conference around Prayer ministry, and linking that to weekend services has been a magnificent success. The best way to do this is to have a working framework for follow-up from whatever presenter has been given the pulpit. In this last year we brought in Danny Morris, a prayer author with a Methodist background. He had written a book called “Yearning to Know God’s Will”  (Zondervan, 1991) and it contained an eight week a daily devotional focused on learning to Hear God’s voice. Then, we had a sign up and a series of dedicated groups studied his writing on the subject.


Name: Tom Swank    
Church: Northpoint Community Church
Ave weekend service attendance: 100

1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

A culture of prayer would indicate that prayer permeates everything the church does. It would be unthinkable to begin any meeting without prayer--not just the kind of prayer sometimes used to call a meeting to order but rather serious prayer that seeks God for His leadership in the meeting. A church with a culture of prayer would also find times in the middle of meetings to stop and pray when there is confusion or no clear sense of direction. Prayer would be the first response of the average person in the body to any need that presented itself.

When I think of a culture of prayer, I am reminded of Daniel. He had received word of the king’s proclamation that if anyone prayed to any god or man other than the king, they were to be thrown into the den of lions. I love Daniel’s response, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, JUST AS HE HAD DONE BEFORE.

JUST AS HE HAD DONE BEFORE demonstrates a culture of prayer. It wasn’t crisis praying. He was praying in a crisis just has he had done before because prayer was a part of who he was.

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

It should certainly be the top priority of those in leadership. It should be assumed that pastors, elders, and ministry leaders are first seeking the Lord in all matters. Leaders must model the priority of prayer.

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

In addition to the normal prayers one might expect in worship--invocation, pastoral prayer, etc.--we often have small groups gather around a person in need and lay hands on them and pray. It could be a physical need, financial need, a family moving away, a student leaving for college.
We try to make prayer a primary part of elder and leadership meetings--sharing praises and prayer requests and encouraging those in the meeting to participate in prayer.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

When I came to Northpoint I discovered a room that overlooked the sanctuary. I thought it would make a great prayer room. The leadership team at that time was made up of 7 couples. I told them I wanted at least 4 people in the prayer room during the worship service. I asked each of the leadership couples to take a Sunday and recruit another couple from the congregation to join them. This was within the first few weeks after arriving. It set the tone that prayer was very important. Although some of them were a bit nervous at first, they all did as I requested and found joy in spending that hour in prayer.

If the leadership is not on board with the priority of prayer, they will continue to operate in their own strength and there will be the potential for an on-going battle between the will of the people and the will of the Lord.

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

Prayer is prominent in our meetings and in worship. We have a prayer committee that continually looks for ways to keep prayer fresh and to keep challenging our people to pray.

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

The role of prayer in worship--it would not be unusual for us to stop during the service and pray.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

I once read that vision is lost in thirty days. If prayer is not visible, its role will soon be lost. I believe the reason the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray was that prayer was very visible in His life.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

Several years ago we began a men’s prayer meeting. We only meet once per month and the group is not large. It ranges from 5-12 on any given Saturday. It is a safe place. We have had new believers and seasoned saints. The men pray openly and honestly about what is on their hearts. A few years ago, one man confessed to a battle with alcohol. The other men gathered around him and prayed for him. He has been totally alcohol free for over three years. Recently another man shared some family struggles. The focus of the prayer time turned to pray and intercede for this man. We have seen answers to prayer. Men have shared Scriptures that God had used to speak to them; we have seen men broken  who received ministry from the other men.


Name:  Dr. Vince McFarland
Church:  Maryland Community Church
Ave weekend service attendance: 1,600
 
1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

A “culture” in a congregation is a lived out core value.  Not just a value of words, but a value of the way things are done.  Prayer is a “first nature” quality of living and the power behind decision making.  Worship gatherings are “filled with prayer.”  
 
2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

These kinds of churches “pray the price” for all efforts to advance the Kingdom of God. The Word of God is infused with prayer as it is studied and as it is proclaimed.  Meetings, small groups and ministry are empowered with prayer.  Devotion means a priority and a power from prayer.  Prayer is a prime role and not a minor role added to things.  
 
3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

Prayer is a prime piece of all we do in worship gatherings.  Not just at the beginning and end.  We use prayer in a prime position each Lord’s day to intercede for a sister congregation in our city and a mission partner.  

Our worship service is built around prayer as the key piece of response to the Word of God proclaimed.  We partake of the Lord’s Supper and minister in prayer as we sing our songs.  We call it intercessory worship.  We have prayer teams who have been trained to intercede for others and we also open up our altars for people to pray kneeling as they take the Lord’s Supper.  Small groups pray for each other; husbands and wives, friends or just simple individual intercession.

All our leadership meetings are composed of scripture and prayer as a central piece of why we meet.  Small groups make use of prayer for each other regularly.  

Our staff meetings begin with a scripture presentation and a time of corporate prayer each Monday morning.  

We have an email prayer chain that goes out daily.

We have a prayer room where the prayer teams pray prior to worship and our staff are prayed for before going on the platform.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

We model it at staff meetings. It is a requirement in their job descriptions to spend time in prayer and also take a monthly sabbath day. They meet monthly with their Elders who are their accountability partners.  
 
5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

Worship gatherings, daily email prayer chain, Life Journaling is our prime model of daily prayer and scripture reading.  We promote the Wabash Valley International House of Prayer involvement.  We partner with Harvest Prayer Ministries for training and resources.

Prayer is one of our benchmarks for membership; daily prayer and worship participation.
 
6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church? 

Observation at worship gatherings.  Membership covenant has it as a key benchmark.  We teach it at our orientation classes.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

Very much so. It is as much caught as it is taught. Sanctuary space used to stimulate and promote prayer is highly valuable.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

The Maryland Model of Intercessory Worship

The scriptural foundation for our use of prayer in our worship gatherings comes from James 5:13-16;  “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

Worship in singing and praying are not new components of churches but solid traditions based on God’s directives to the fellowship of believers.  The ways in which these two elements are administered vary from one local fellowship to another.  Each fellowship certainly has freedom to use these elements in whatever ways it best aids in the awareness of the presence of God in their gatherings.

For us at MCC it has been a long journey to find a way that combines some of the best of various methods our leaders have experienced.  The phrase “intercessory worship” is used to describe what happens as we respond to the Word of God each Lord’s Day.  It is a time to sing and to pray in response to what the Lord has communicated to each one gathered in the fellowship.

The singing happens in various styles with the intent of focusing each responder to the Word that has been spoken.  Songs are chosen to closely fit the theme of the gathering and the response the worship leader is looking for in order to guide us to the powerful presence of God.  In Colossians 3:16 it says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

Music is a wonderful means of worship that connects us to the next component, intercession.  Each body of believers is to be a house of prayer and in that respect we always want to provide opportunities for effective praying.  The most effective way we have found is to combine worship and praying.  It is a synergy of God and people that can accomplish a lot.

Intercession is used in two ways; first at our altars where you can pray as you are led about what God is doing in your life through His Word and Spirit.  Secondly, you can be prayed for by our prayer teams (people who have been trained to pray for others) that are positioned around our altars.  

The spiritual bathing of prayer has been going on in our Prayer Room for about 30 minutes prior to our gatherings and all during the gathering itself by intercessors.    It is a core value around here that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the audience for which we gather and the power to which we are connected.  The only way lives will be changed, including our own, is through an encounter with the living God.  It is this encounter that “intercessory worship” leads us into.


E--experiential
P--participatory
I--image driven
C--connected


Name: Sunder Krishnan
Church you pastor: Rexdale Alliance Church
Ave weekend service attendance:  1100

1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

The phrase "a culture of prayer" indicates to me that there is a pervasive sense and awareness throughout the congregation of the fundamental importance of prayer, both individually and corporately, in the life of Christ following community. They understand that prayer is the translation into a 1000 words of the single sentence of Jesus "apart from me you can do nothing". Thus they are not surprised when the leadership regularly issues calls for corporate gatherings of prayer for a variety of reasons as well is a consistent encouragement to the pursuit of personal life of intimacy and prayer.

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

From the prayer of Abraham in Genesis 18, through the great prayers of Moses, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Isaiah and the Psalms, in the consistent saturation of Jesus entire ministry in prayer, in the prayer of the early church in Acts 4 and in the many repeated exhortations of the apostle Paul that died the intersection of un-named churches all over issue a minor to the success of every dimension of the missionary program of the church, prayer must be absolutely central in the life of the church.

We have 11 core values in our church. The 2nd of these states that prayer is foundational to everything that we do. This flows from the conviction of God's absolutes sovereignty over every dimension of the life of the church and the world. Prayer only makes sense because God is sovereign

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

First of all I'm convinced that the pastor's private prayer life is a key to nurturing prayer in the congregation. I have never forgotten Calvin Miller's exhortations (I could even call it a serious warning) that the one thing that will be evident to the congregation is the presence or absence of pastors personal intimacy with Christ. And that while the pastors personal hunger for God will not be the subject of every sermon, it will be the power behind every sermon. So the first thing I do is to be diligent attention to my personal private prayer life that nobody sees. I have also been inspired by these observations by John Piper “the proper goals of the life of a pastor (and lay ministry leader—my addition) is unquestionably beyond our reach. The changes we long for in the hearts of our people can happen only by a sovereign work of grace. The essence of the Christian ministry is such that its success is not within our reach. God does all his gracious work in such a way that no human being might boast in the presence of God–which means he usually does it in answer to prayer. Nothing exalts Him more than the collapse of self-reliance which issues in a passionate prayer for help

Secondly I preach regularly on the subject of prayer, both explicitly as a topic on its own at the beginning of each year) and implicitly whenever the text I'm preaching on allows me to underline its importance

In our weekend worship services, we are encouraging the person leading the congregation in prayer to actually take some part to write down their prayers so that they are not babbling but praying with focus. I also begin the sermon with explicit prayer that acknowledges are a complete and total dependence upon God both in the preaching and in the listening of the word.

We spend at least 30 to 45 minutes and a weekly staff meeting in sharing and praying for each other and for the congregation. In our monthly board meetings of the Elders and the Finance board, we do the same.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

In the light of all that I have said earlier in response to questions 1 to 3, it is clear that prayer must be of foundational importance to leadership, especially the elders.

What steps I take to ensure this happens is found in the answer to question number 5 below to which I .have devoted the maximum space

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

We begin each year with a solemn assembly. We cancel all but the most essential ministries in the first full week of each year and meet every night for a couple of hours to pray. The focus is on corporate confession and seeking God for forgiveness as well as a fresh outpouring of his holy spirit on every aspect of our church’s life and ministry in the coming year.

Sunday evenings during the month of September are devoted to praying for God’s mercy and blessing on the  nations of the 10-40 window (a region of the world that lies between 10° and 40° north latitude and from Africa on the West to Japan on the East.). We pray especially for the land of Turkey, our adopted people group.

We devote  one Sunday evening each  month for a concert a prayer, seeking God’s presence and power for our personal and individual needs and for the  various ministries in the church and the world.

There are three weekly opportunities for corporate prayer. Tuesday evenings from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM, Tuesday afternoon from 1.30 to 3:30 PM for our missionaries and from 7 AM to 8 AM on Wednesday mornings. The first two are open to all while the third one is for the men.

Also because leadership sets the spiritual climate and tone in the church, the elders board meet four Saturdays per year to pray for one another and for the church. Three of these  prayer meetings (March, June and December), extend from 9 AM to 12 noon with the September meeting continuing to 3 PM. In addition, the elders meet for one hour of prayer each night of Solemn assembly prior to joining the congregation for the two hour  prayer time mentioned above.

In addition to these regular prayer times, several ministries conduct prayer meetings focused on the specific needs of their ministries at various times as determined by the ministry leaders.

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

The solemn assembly mentioned above is probably the single most powerful reinforcement of the crucial role that prayer is intended to play in our church

Secondly when they are informed of each of the above prayer opportunities as they come up in the life of the church, they will realise that we build upon the annual emphasis of the solemn assembly toward the year and that there is a leadership that is committed to prayer

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

I'm not so sure about the importance of the visibility of prayer as much as the actual practice. Throughout the Scriptures God prefers to work in subversive rather than the demonstrative  ways. Jesus and Matthew chapter 6 tells us that he who sees in secret will reward in the open

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

If I had to choose one, it would be the solemn assembly as described above. I think people choose to participate because they have now become convinced about the crucial role of repentance, the fact that they need the help of others to do it, and it really anticipate how on the Friday of solemn assembly God speaks so powerfully through the community


Name: Lloyd Peters
Church: Fort St. John Alliance Church
Ave weekend service attendance:
 
1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?  

Prayer is an activity as well as a discipline. The aspect of making our church a "culture of prayer" has to do with every ministry dependent on prayer to be able to function. The whole idea being that while we plan, we prepare, we do, its all surrounded by prayer, both active and implicit. The concept of practising the presence of God is done best in a spirit of prayer, relying on the work of the Holy Spirit in my life to be able to guide and direct my paths and thoughts.

This culture then permeates throughout the ministry to the place that even if the leader is not present someone will lead in prayer and get the prayer going. Its God dependent not 'leader' dependent. Its all about needing each one to come to pray, even if its a sentence or two.  
This culture prep takes time to develop.

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

It needs to be integral. It is not even so much what we do it is and ought to be who we are. I can't think of any other way that informs my body, soul and spirit who is in control. The power behind prayer is God working in and through us. Our best efforts without prayer is exactly that. I know that God works without prayer but when we engage in asking God for the power to do what the church ought to be doing then a level of dependence on God is encouraged and He is honored.  
 
3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

I lead in prayer on a Sunday morning services. I attempt to bring people with me into the throne room with me. I pray like I talk. Its conversational most of the time. The music becomes prayers to God and we mention that and people start to accept the opportunity to engage in prayer through more than just words, but music and offering as well.
 
4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

It is very important. At our elder meetings we spend time in prayer. I am going to be starting a weekly early morning prayer time. I am asking all elders to be there. It is not an option if you desire the office, then lets do it.
 
5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

We don't do a very good job of that. We talk about it and as staff we pray but we are trying to build this culture of prayer so that our practice lines up with our profession.
 
6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

We invite people to come up to the front if they have needs they want to have prayed for. Elders may be praying with people after the service in the pews not necessarily up front. We do have a prayer chain.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

Visibility helps but the strength is in the practice. Small groups praying during the week. Inviting people to a fast and prayer and then keep that in front of them each Sunday reporting what God is doing.
 
8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.
 
We have done a week of prayer and fasting with meeting each night. It was well received by about 40 people who participated.

We did a weekend of prayer with a special speaker. That went pretty well, but next time we would start it on a Sunday and go through to Wed. giving everyone a chance to hear the speaker and then be motivated to pray.

We have also finished an invitational 21 day fast. I talked about it each Sunday. It was a fast from food, media, etc. Next time we will have a meeting a week, with a closing meeting.
 


Name: Cory Stout            
Church: Community Heights Alliance Church
Ave weekend service attendance:650

1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

I believe that a culture of prayer is an attitude.  An attitude of dependence.  An attitude which says that we are incapable on our own; and thus reliant upon the person and power of Jesus Christ.  

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

It is the foundation; the bedrock of ministry.  Jesus Himself gave high priority to the practice and teaching of prayer.  It is in our best interest to do the same.  

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

I honestly feel that I fall short in this regards in many ways.  One of the ways we strive to raise the value of prayer is through what I call ‘hallway prayer’.  The idea is that as we encounter people in conversations, we don’t say ‘I’ll pray for you’ and then walk away (and probably forget to pray for them); but rather that we take the time right then and there to say, ‘Can I pray for you / with you about that?’.  Each week at our staff meeting, I ask our entire staff (pastoral = 4 and support = 5) who they prayed for during the morning services on Sunday.  

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

I truly believe that the crowd (followers) will rarely go further than the leader/s.  Therefore, it is critical that the leadership is engaged, involved and supportive of the prayer ministry.  I feel that we could use strides of improvement in this area also.  

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

We begin each year with a week of prayer.  We cancel the majority of our weekly ministries in order to free people up to attend the week of prayer evening gatherings.  To heighten the impact of this week of prayer, we’ve added various components.  One year we brought in a dynamic prayer guru named Jonathan Graf (I hope that line makes it in your article?). Another year, we ended our services early and all got in our vehicles and literally drive around our city with a police escort.  We put together a CD which served as a prayer guide for people as they drove (drive time was approx. 30 minutes).  This year, we partnered with other churches in town; holding a prayer gathering at a different church each night of the week. The feedback has been very positive including the following: "There were different denominations present, but yet a commonality in Christ which makes us family!  This has had a huge impact." "I’m 58 years old and have seen a chance for unity this week that I have not seen before and it must not stop.’  ‘God is raising up an army; the beginning of revival." Several physical healings occurred throughout the week as well.  
 
6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

We have a prayer room.  A prayer basket (described below).  Practically, if someone new looked across an aisle or down a hallway, and saw 2 people with their heads bowed in prayer, that would make the biggest impact.  

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

I don’t know that highly visible and highly impactful are synonymous.  Prayer must be emphasized, validated and prioritized . . . whether that be on a Sunday morning in front of 100’s or in a small group in front of 8. I believe that commitment, more so than visibility, is the highest goal.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

We have a prayer basket which focuses on the salvation of the lost.  There are prayer cards available where people can write down the name of a person they desire to see saved, along with their own name and contact info.  They keep half of the card as a reminder to be in prayer; and then place the other half of the card in the prayer basket.  We have three prayer gatherings each Wednesday (6A, noon, 6:45P); at these prayer times, each person pulls out 2 or 3 cards and prays specifically for the names written.  They then date and initial the back of the card.  Once the card has been prayed for 10 times, we contact the person who submitted the card to find out if their friend has accepted Christ yet.  If not, we reenter the card.  If they have, we tack the card to a bulletin board.  There are around 15 cards tacked to that board – what a great reminder that God answers prayer and brings people to salvation!  


Name:  Dr. James Banks
Church: Peace Church, Durham NC  (EPC church planting effort)
Ave weekend service attendance: Less than 50 (but growing!)

1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

When I think of a “culture of prayer” the first words that come to mind are “Thy will be done.”  That’s what it’s about, isn’t it?  Seeking God’s will and strength beyond our ability to make things happen.

2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

Prayer needs to have a primary role in the church.  We need to question our assumptions and how we arrived at where we are.  Take the concept of board meetings and Roberts Rules of Order, for example.  Where are they mentioned in the Bible? This isn’t to question the vital importance of elders gathering--that’s definitely in Scripture. But in American Christianity, it seems we’ve co-opted the world’s approach and dressed them up in holy garb with only an opening and closing prayer, instead of letting prayer permeate the whole.

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

I like comparing our approach to prayer to Beethoven’s 5th.  We take the same theme and repeat it over and over again, with a slight modification.  We emphasize prayer in every ministry of the church. For example, we don’t have a “prayer chain” signup—because the whole church family has a responsibility to pray. Your email automatically goes on it. We also encourage our members to pray on the spot when a need is expressed, instead of saying “I’ll pray for you” (how often have we said that an then forgotten?).  The more spontaneous prayer is the better.  It needs to flow naturally out of a living relationship with Jesus.

4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

If our leadership doesn’t give prayer top priority, we’re out of touch with what God is really doing. After all, it’s His church!  

5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

That’s challenging.  We have to work at it—not out of a quest for novel ideas, per se, but in finding ways to impact the world around us.  In addition to all of our members being on the prayer chain, we encourage them to set an alarm for noon and pray for God’s blessing on the church.  We also encourage them to make a daily practice of asking the people they encounter through the day something like, “How can I ask God to bless you today?”  That’s opened the door to some vital conversations.  But most of all, the leadership has to quietly commit themselves to pray.  I have a practice of doing a partial fast once a week and praying through the church directory.  Our members generally don’t know this, but the difference it makes in my own heart as a pastor is indispensable.

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

Many comment on a sense of God’s presence as soon as they walk in the building.  A praying church is, to borrow Terry Teykl’s phrase, a “presence-based church.”  Prayer is so much a part of what we do that it permeates things, and the sense of God’s presence soon follows.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?

In the sense that prayer is to be “lived” openly and unapologetically, absolutely.  But that never means “marketing” it or doing it as an “act of righteousness” before others.  Prayer is a natural extension of our dependence.  I love Daniel Henderson’s quote that “prayerlessness is our declaration of independence from God.”  Our churches may draw a crowd, but if prayer is lacking, we do well to wonder what we’re missing.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

God has used the prayer ministry at our church in a way largely disproportionate to our size in a way that has impacted thousands of people. Their loving and caring prayers for our family in a challenging season was fertile ground for my book, Prayers for Prodigals, which God has used in more lives than I can count (it also encouraged us to start a website, PrayersForProdigals.org, where parents can anonymously share their needs for prayer).  It’s amazing how God can take the most challenging and painful places in our lives and use them for good.  To Him be the glory forever!


Name: Dennis Fuqua
Not currently pastoring - though I did pastor for 25 years.  I do mentor a younger pastor and we talk much about both personal and corporate prayer.

1. How would I describe a culture of prayer in a congregation?  (Excellent question!)  All of my answers will not be this long!  ?

I would look for the following things.
1) “Here and now” prayer, rather than, “later and somewhere else” prayer.  When someone is asked to pray about a specific request, the normal thing is that the person is prayed for right “here and now” rather than the request being put on a list and prayed for at another time when the person is not there.
2) There are a variety of prayer ministries, but the bottom-line goal is that each individual is being encouraged to be “devoted to prayer.”
3) Leaders regularly describe and demonstrate their commitment to both personal and corporate prayer.  This can happen in a passing reference as they preach or teach, or it could be more intentional.  Also, they attend and invite others to be a part of any corporate prayer times.
4) Corporate prayer is a regular part of the weekend services.  This can happen in many ways--small groups, one word, responsive, unison, etc.  But it is the regular thing that people pray out loud during the service.
5) Following the Moravian principle, “no one ministers unless someone prays.”  When the worship team meets, they don’t just do a quick prayer at the beginning of their worship time.  They (for example) read and pray through the words of a couple songs they will be doing on Sunday.  They take time to worship unrelated to Sunday.  They pray for the upcoming worship experience, that people would enter into the flow of worship, etc.  Or when they are planning a VBS - they not only ask for a person to coordinate the crafts, games, stories, etc.  they also ask for a person to direct the prayer.  And perhaps they have a prayer team actually praying during the VBS itself.   Hopefully each ministry team incorporates prayer into all they do.
6) There is an appreciation and application of “All kinds of prayers” (Eph 6:18).  Pray-ers are skilled in many types of prayers - intercession, worship-based prayer, for specific requests, etc. and also appreciate many styles - quite, loud, solo, all-together at the same time, etc.
7) At the leadership meetings they “pray as much as they discuss.”  This was a challenge given to me as a pastor and our normal pattern for years.  We tried to spend as much time in prayer during our meetings as we did discussing issues.
8) There is a “prayer” line in the budget.   There is a specific person who manages this.
9) Any “prayer pastor or coordinator” (whatever term is used) is seen and recognized as staff - whether paid or volunteer.
10) Eph 6:18 does a great job of summarizing some key points here.  Praying…
a) In the Spirit - sensitive to specific things the Spirit wants us to pray about
b) On all occasions - large groups, small groups, individuals, home groups, etc.
c) With all kinds of prayer - see above
d) Be alert - keep the prayers fresh and let His creativity flow through our prayers
e) Always keep praying - the value is not seen only in the results, but in the process.
f) For all the saints - a variety of topics and needs
g) This one verse gives us a great start on describing a culture of prayer

2. I love the word “devoted”  It is used 6 (7) times related to prayer and 4 times related to other people/things . . . A boat, a sorcerer, a soldier, and a Politian… I have attached a rough graph about its usage.  I think this word describes how prayer should be “done” in a congregation. . . . We should be as ready as a boat, set aside for Jesus’ usage, a sorcerer pursuing a new magic ability, a soldier on call for service, and a “full-time” government employee who is ready to serve the public at any time.

 
4. It is vitally important that both the senior leader and senior leadership are equally committed to the goal of seeing a prayer culture develop in their congregation.  One without the other will not get it done.  Some key steps on the part of the pastor to accomplish this include…

  • Do not assume anything related to their personal prayer life.  Talk about it regularly.
  • Make prayer a key part of all leadership meetings.  Not only prayer for specific needs/people, but Spirit-led, worship-fed, Scripture-based, corporate prayer.
  • Regularly have overnights together where prayer is the primary activity.  “Leave your file folders and home and bring your Bibles.  This is not about church business, it is about business with God.”

6. See Answer number 1 above and . . . use of signs and banners, use of bulletin, use of web site.

7. Yes, high visibility demonstrates our commitment.  It reminds others and us what is important to us.

8. Number 4 under answer number one.  We (one of the churches I attend regularly and mentor the pastor) have been successful at incorporating public prayer into most every service.  People participate because

  • We have done it intentionally - we have mentioned it during the service often
  • We think it through - it is not a last minute thought
  • We state it very specifically so everyone knows just what to do - sometimes using the screen
  • We make it easy enough so anyone can “succeed” as they participate
  • We don’t do the same thing each week - we use a variety of approaches
  • We don’t do it at the same time each week - sometimes it is at the very beginning of the service, sometimes the middle, sometimes at the end
  • We make it more “light-hearted” and sometimes even joke about how “hard” this is… or how “weird” this is… to actually pray as part of a church service!


Name:Jeff Noel
Church: Grace Heartland Church
Ave weekend service attendance: 1200


1. If you hear a church described as trying to a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?

My understanding of "culture of prayer" is describing the DNA of a church community. The culture or DNA is simply what the church does without thinking about it. It moves from intentional to instinctive. The first church didn't "think " about praying . . . they just prayed. Unfortunately that is not the "culture" of most churches in America today. We had to intentionally begin the process of making prayer a priority through many different prayer activities but over the past five years we have experienced those intentional actions become part of the natural culture of how we do church . . . it is now our DNA. Without prayer we would not be the same Church and people would sense that difference.  
 
2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?

It should be an essential characteristic of the church. These practices of the first century church described the elements that defined their relationship with Jesus, one another and the lost. Each element is beyond important...they are all "essential". Meaning, that to dismiss any one of them would make the church something less than the Church. Prayer is not an important spiritual discipline...it is an essential characteristic that enables the power of the Holy Spirit to fill us with the wisdom and power to embark on a spiritual mission. Without prayer we end up doing a spiritual work in the weakness of the flesh and that will fail to accomplish Gods purposes.

3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?

I have realized that this process cannot happen unless it is a passion that flows from me. I must preach, teach and lead in example as well as through prayer events. I try to encourage people who pray with passion, sincerity and a genuine heart that walks in relationship with Jesus to lead in public prayers. We have prayer services and concerts of prayer throughout the year. Our Elders and staff make pray the priority of our meetings rather than an agenda and the difference is palatable.


4. How important is it that your leadership is in synch with the importance of prayer and what steps do you take to insure that happens?

It is essential. Without a praying team of spiritual leaders the vision of being a praying church will not happen. The Spiritual Leaders are the ones that create a culture of prayer that expands to the entire congregation.
 
5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?

We have a Prayer Coordinator and a Prayer Team that work to involve the congregation in prayer events and services. We have an active team of intercessors as well as regular small groups that meet throughout the week for the sole purpose Of prayer.  

6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?

The number of prayer groups we have in place. The active Prayer Team members that meet withhold as they come forward for different prayer needs to be addressed during the Worship Service.

7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or Why not?
 
Yes! If they do not see and hear prayer then it is conveyed by silence that Prayer is not important. As well, seeing and hearing provides healthy examples of authentic prayer that comes from a relationship with Jesus rather than a religious practice than is spoken without meaning and heart.

8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate.

Our Prayer services which are based on scripture, focused in a specific topic and involve the congregation in small groups prayer, individual prayer, silent prayer, rapid fire prayers and intercessors worship prayer are highly effective. 
 

 

Culture of Prayer Questionnaire

Here are the questions our participating pastors were asked. You can read their complete responses at prayerconnect.net/ ------.

  1. If you hear a church described as trying to develop a “culture of prayer” what does that mean to you? How would you describe a culture of prayer in a church?
  2. In light of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and Acts 6:4: “[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” what role should prayer have in the life of a church?
  3. How do you as a pastor lead or teach your congregation to understand the importance of prayer through what happens in the worship service, prayer events/ministries, and meetings (elders, board, staff, etc.)?
  4. How important is it that your leadership is in sync with the importance of prayer—and what steps do you take to insure that happens?
  5. How does your church keep prayer at the forefront of what it does?
  6. What would make someone new to your church recognize that prayer is important to your church?
  7. Is it important for prayer to be highly visible in a church that wants prayer to undergird all it does? Why or why not?
  8. What is one prayer practice in your church that has been successful? Describe what you do and why you think people participate. 

 

 

 

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