As I have been contemplating prayer of late, I’ve found my times of prayer to be growing in both occasion and place. I find myself before God in prayer as I face a decision that needs to be made, or to ask Him wisdom as I read His word. Or I find myself offering bursts of praise as I see His hand in a sunrise, or asking Him for grace when I need help with a hard conversation. But I have also realized there is one place where I’m pretty certain to not be praying: church.
You’d think this is all mixed up, and you would have a point. But our church doesn’t have a specific time for congregational prayer. We have corporate prayer, but I can just listen to a pastor pray over the service or the congregation without doing much of anything other than listening to him pray over the service or the congregation. We also have prayer over the Word, and prayer over our singing, but again, I find it far too easy to watch rather than pray.
But Paul tells us to pray without ceasing, and I want to connect more deeply with God, so I’ve decided that I’m going to pray at church. And short of disrupting everyone throughout the service with constant, outspoken prayers, I’ve realized there are plenty of opportunities to be praying.
- Pray as we drive in to church: God, do a work in your people this morning, to open our eyes to Your glory and to awaken our affections for You above all other things.
- Pray as we walk in the door: God, may I be a minister of grace to someone in need, and may You bring someone to minister to my needs as You see fit.
- Pray as the band begins to play: God, grant us to worship you together with united hearts of praise and adoration for Your name!
- Pray as we begin to sing: [Insert song lyric, and mean it rather than mouth it].
- Pray as we shake each other’s hands for 15 seconds: God, love this person through me right now. Give us words to build a relationship of mutual love and encouragement.
- Pray as the pastor prays for our service: [As he prays], God, may this be so. Do this, for Your glory and our joy.
- Pray as the teaching pastor walks on stage: God, grant His lips to speak and our ears to hear the wisdom and beauty of Your word, and awaken our minds to understand and our hearts to feel the weight of Your truth.
- Pray as the Word is being taught: God, shine the light of your Word deep in my heart; show me my sin, reveal to me Your grace, teach me Your truth, and do this for all who are here.
- Pray as the gospel is being shared: God, awaken faith in those who don’t know You. Help them to see their sin and delight in Your mercy, and help them to respond to the gospel and receive Your Son as their righteousness, their Lord, their Savior, and their Treasure.
- Pray as we give: God, I give because You own everything I have. Multiply this offering to expand Your kingdom and the reach of Your name.
- Pray as we leave the sanctuary: God, give me eyes to see friends to encourage and loners to befriend before I reach the door to leave.
- Pray as we talk to a friend in need: [Stopping to pray during a discussion rather than saying “I’ll be sure to pray for you.”]
- Pray as we walk out the door: God, consecrate this day for Your sake. Help me to rest in You, obey Your Word, follow Your lead, and love others today while I have breath.
Pray with me this Sunday. And each day until then. May God help us to see our need for Him throughout each day, and may we be found in unceasing prayer before His throne.
Question: When do you pray at your church gathering?