The Value of Corporate Prayer at Your Church
A couple weeks ago, we heard from Pastor Brian Tome during a Google Hangout on prayer. In addition to that, he wrote this article on how important and impactful corporate prayer as a staff can be for your church. He shares his own journey of discovering just how valuable this can be, as well as the impact it had on the trajectory of the church.
When I started Crossroads 20 years ago as a 30-year-old, relatively young buck, I was full of fire. There was seemingly no problem that my energy and a good staff couldn’t solve. We knew God was in control. We knew prayer unleashed His power in ways we couldn’t describe. We knew we needed to pray, and we did… just not together.
I used to say, “Crossroads isn’t paying you to pray.” Prayer in meetings was fine. But prayer as the meeting wasn’t fine. I told people that we want you coming to work prayed up, but I don’t need you looking at Bible screen savers and calling that ministry. It isn’t. We work hard at the things God is calling us to do, because someone else is in the real world hitting their quota and tithing so that we can labor in real ministry.”
A few years ago, my friend Mike Breen challenged me to have all the staff pray together every day. That sentence was as tasty as a poopy flavored lollipop. It was challenging. Yet at that point, I wanted more out of ministry. I wanted more fruitfulness. I was willing to try anything… even communal prayer.
We did a month trial run for all staff and any volunteers who wanted to attend and it actually tasted pretty good. Now, all sites of Crossroads pray together every day. We read a psalm a day and pray things related to the text and also related to ministry needs. Obviously, it is hard to measure spiritual growth, but there is no question we have grown deeper and prayer has been key. The things we can count have had astronomical growth. Since we started compulsory community prayer time, we’ve added seven sites and 15,000 people to our church. We went from one owned facility to nine.
Despite these and other fruits, the temptation to not pray is ever present. Historically I haven’t been a big communal prayer guy, yet it is my leadership that drives this practice forward. I have to be as anal about prayer attendance as I am about weekend attendance. I have to be as driven to get staff into prayer as I am to get attendees into groups. I have to be as fixated on the numbers of people praying as I am the numbers of people tithing.
Communal prayer is a ministry I have to own and lead with appropriate encouragements and punishments. One time I authorized a “prayer bonus” for everyone who had solid attendance. Where did that money come from? A portion of the raise that those who didn’t attend regularly would have had. That was one of my best leadership moments and I loved making that announcement.
A leader has to feel the heart of God and make His will come to being. His will is for His people to pray and become one. The leadership of championing prayer never ends. After coming back from my summer break I noticed that attendance looked down even though our staff count went up. I’ll conclude this post with the email I sent out…
Let me remind you that if you are on full time staff, it is an expectation that you will be in a staff prayer setting EVERY working day. If you are traveling, you can’t attend. If you have an unplanned meeting with a volunteer you can’t attend. In every other situation, we need to be in prayer as a community. There shouldn’t be any meetings with other staff or any other duty that would keep you from attending corporate prayer every day. Why?
1) Prayer makes us more efficient and effective. Any time I give up to prayer comes back to me in effectiveness. I can’t believe how many times God has given me an idea or insight in prayer that has saved me tangible time later in the day. At minimum, I’m more energized for the rest of my day.
2) Corporate prayer brings us closer to God. After doing a study on revivals in history, Tim Keller says that one common characteristic is corporate prayer. We want to see a mighty move of God in our land, so we must pray.
3) Corporate prayer brings us closer to each other. We are a team who needs to regularly be in community with one another. We are most potent not when we are individuals who are being diligent, but when we are a team that is being diligent. What better way to bond as a team than in a room praying together to the One who has made us and commissioned us?
4) Prayer makes things happen. We can’t plan and strong-arm everything in our ministry into existence. We are engaged in a heavenly battle and that requires the unconventional weapon of prayer.
5) You are being paid to pray. Years ago, I would have never signed off on staff praying for a half hour on company time. I have matured. I was wrong. Believers around the world would scratch their heads that many of us can’t pray corporately for a half hour as a basic duty of a believer. And, it’s a part of our job description.
Thank you for being faithful in this effort. Thank you to all who have been leading us well. Thank you in advance for recommitting yourself to be in a corporate time of staff prayer every working day. The Kingdom needs us engaged in this work.