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Sinclair Ferguson on some of the things that concern him about churches today:

There is the lack of prayer and of the Church praying. This is to me the most alarming, for this reason: we have built apparently strong, large, successful, active churches. But many of our churches never meet as a congregation for prayer. I mean never! What does that indicate we are saying about the life of the Church as a fellowship?

By contrast, the mark of a truly apostolic spirit in the church is that that we give ourselves to prayer and the Word together (Acts 6:4). No wonder “the Word of God continued to increase and the number of the disciples multiplied” (Acts 6:7). If this is so, it should not surprise us that while many churches see growth, it is often simply reconfiguration of numbers, not of conversion. I greatly wish that our churches would learn to keep the main things central, that we would learn to be true Churches, vibrant fellowships of prayer, Gospel ministry and teaching, genuine mutual love. At the end of the day, such a Church simply needs to “be” for visitors who come to sense that this is a new order of reality altogether and are drawn to Christ.

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13 thoughts on “Does Your Church Pray Together?”

  1. Erik Reed says:


    Thank you for the post. To Sinclair’s words I say, “Amen and Amen.” My question is this: what does it look like for our church to praying together? I do not ask this viscously, but with sincerity. It is a prayer gathering in the form of a service where a few people guide the church in prayer? Is it everyone showing up to a prayer gathering but praying individually and privately during a set hour or time? Is it the informal gathering of small groups of people throughout the church that pray regularly together?

    I would sincerely like to know your thoughts about this. I know Martyn-Lloyd Jones’ church in Aberavon had regular prayer services. Just curious as to what that would look like in practice.

    Thanks again,

    1. Jamie Bickel says:

      Erik, Is it not all of the above?

    2. David says:

      Here’s an outline of a special prayer service we put together last weekend:

      5min – prelude music-praise/adoration

      10min – leader – introduction/agenda/lead in prayer/short teaching on prayer

      5 min – hymn focused on attributes of God

      15 min – reading of Rev 1:5-6, 8 followed by prayer in small groups of 4 focused on praise and adoration, using Challies infographic on attributes of God (leader closes with overlapping prayer to let groups know the section is concluded)

      5 min – dramatic reading on Rev 4-5:1-4

      15 min – confession focused prayer, personal private for 5 min, followed by leader reading Valley of Vision prayer of confession, then 10-12 min spent in corporate confession (we confess the sins of our church out loud, together)

      5 min – Reading of Rev 5:5, 12 / Sing a hymn of thanksgiving together

      20 min – Thanksgiving focused prayer – starts with leader praying, praying corporately regarding specific instances of ministry blessings over the past years (leadership efforts, diligence, obedience, perseverance, love, kindness, opportunities as categories) – closed with doxology

      20 min – Petition/Supplication/Intercession focused prayer – starts with reading the church mission statement – then prayed for our four ministry quadrants (Foreign, Local, Small group, and specific regional partnership we have with church planting leadership in SE Europe), the small group quadrant was prayed for last, with our pastor over that area leading, and small group leaders in attendance coming forward and being commissioned to the work

      10 min – reading of Ephesians 4 creed, singing song about creed “There is one body…”

      Leader closes in final prayer

      1. John Botkin says:

        What is the “Ephesians 4 Creed”?

        1. David says:

          There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
          (Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV)

    3. Tom Thiessen says:

      Good question.

      We meet for an hour on Wednesday evenings. We spend 10-15 minutes on a Psalm, and then get right to business. As the pastor, I direct the topics for prayer and the people volunteer to pray for specific things.

      For example, one week we might pray for strong families in the church. I will have planned ahead several different specific things to pray for. So I will say, “Let’s pray for strong families in our church. Who will pray for the men to be strong spiritual leaders and to love their wives sacrificially? (someone will raise their hand and they will be assigned that topic) Who will pray for wives to love their husbands and their children well? Who will pray for children to obey their parents in the Lord?” After assigning about 3 or 4 things like that we will go to prayer. Those people will pray for those things out loud. Then we will move on to another set of things. “Who will pray that marriages will be strong…” etc.

      This works very well in keeping things focused, keeping the people involved, keeping it kingdom centered, and keeping it from falling into the same list of 10 things every week. Hope this helps. To give credit, I picked up this way of doing it at Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville.

  2. Jamie Bickel says:

    “concern” link is broken. Is there a source for the quote?

    1. Brian Lund says:

      Hi Jamie – the original article can be found here:

      Thanks for pointing us to this, Justin!

  3. David Rogers says:

    Though Jesus certainly puts the premium on the “prayer closet,” I think that in the church where the overwhelming majority never pray out loud in the presence of other people outside their immediate family, and only listen to the prayers of those “leading prayer,” there is something amiss. This is most effectively accomplished in small groups.

  4. Timothy Buck says:

    Amen. Dr. Ferguson’s concern has been mine for a long time.

    But I’ll tell you what has happened to the prayer meetings in our churches. They became so boring and inconsequential that it didn’t matter if we had them or not, and so churches gave up on them. I’ve attended numerous prayer meetings in “old style” churches recently that have retained the tradition, and in those prayer meetings I’ve attended, it seems to be only a tradition. Why? Because the pastor or leader asks for prayer requests, and people start to list an upcoming Dr. appointment, a daughter who is flying to Germany so we must pray for her safety, and someone else needs a job and on an on the list goes, all prayer requests for health and safety and financial concerns. And as I sit in these meetings I marvel that there is NOT ONE PRAYER REQUEST for the salvation of the lost (until I do so). Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t pray for healing or the other needs of the saints (plenty of Biblical teaching on that), but when all we pray for is our own little concerns, this selfish form of prayer becomes boring. As I have sat in these prayer meetings recently, the only marvel is that this church has managed to keep up this old tradition, and that anyone still comes.

    Why not designate a period of time at the beginning when we pray ONLY for the salvation of the lost. List names of co-workers, neighbors and friends whom we want to share Christ with. This is a function of leadership. The leader, be he a layman or a pastor should help the people to put God’s priorities for the lost at the top of the list.

  5. Martin says:

    We have a special room (small) set up in our Evangelical Covenant Church. Periodically,we have held a week long 24 hour prayer vigil that couples or individuals sign up for. It is truly a wonderful experience.

  6. Flyaway says:

    Our worship time on Sundays usually includes a time for prayer either silent or aloud. On one morning a week a prayer group meets and we use the format that Moms in Prayer uses–praying of one accord. Praise, confession, thanksgiving, and then intercession.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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