How to do a Guided Prayer
I recently blogged on baby dedications, and I mentioned we do them during our guided prayer time in the worship service. A pastor posted a few questions about our guided prayer, and I’ll answer them in this blog. Here’s what he asked:
I am interested in your guided prayer time. We are having a problem as we are a quickly growing church and have lots of events and activities added to our schedule every week. We have gotten to the point that every ministry wants to make some sort of announcement. We tried moving the announcements to the end of the service to keep it from interrupting the flow of the service and distracting from worship, but it is still too cumbersome. I am thinking this might be a plausible solution. I have some questions:
- How do you decide what activities to pray over?
- How do people respond if you don’t choose their activity?
- Are you a large church or small church?
- Does this make a difference in this approach?
Our church council of ministry team leaders decided we would make no announcements and I do not feel that is the right direction, but I don’t want to just shut them down, but would like to provide an alternative. Your answers could help us out of this sticky situation.
Jack, first it’s great to hear your church is growing! Obviously, growing pains are inevitable. I agree with your intuition—totally removing announcements from the service hinders your ability to communicate vision. Most announcements need to go; they distract, not assist, worship (nothing kills a worship service like kicking it off with death announcements).
One alternative I’ve found is to make an announcement by praying for an event. Our guided prayer time occurs in the first half of our service, following a few worship songs. It is led by me or another pastor of the church (or someone selected by one of the pastors). This focus helps build a culture of prayer within the church, and it also serves as a way the entire church can pray for one thing corporately. We are a larger church (3 services), so we too have many activities, programs, and events. And yes, they all want to make announcements in the service.
How do we decide what to pray over? Since I instituted this guided prayer time at our church, I ended up being the decision-maker (I work with our worship leaders on time, content, etc). Here are a few general guidelines I consider:
- The item should be church-wide or encompass a large group in the church.
- If the item needs several minutes of explanation, then the guided prayer is not the best way to communicate it.
- If you can’t present the item without a prayerful spirit, then it’s not the best time to do so (I announced our Super Bowl party from the baptistry once…not a good idea).
- If the item does not fit with the theme or flow of the service, then don’t force it.
The guided prayer has enabled us to do some things last minute (Haiti relief, etc), and it serves as a time buffer since we have a tight schedule on Sunday mornings. Honestly, the best part of it all is we pray corporately as a church, which many churches do not have as part of their regular worship services.
The people have responded well at FBC Murray, but I’m blessed to serve at a unified church. And I’ve done the guided prayer for most of my ministry, from a tiny country church to a large multi-site church to FBC Murray. I believe it’s great for any church, no matter what the size.
Thanks for the great question! Anyone else want to add a thought or two?