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We just spent the last two lessons looking at how to pray and intercede privately. But not all of our intercession is done in the prayer closet. We need to know how to pray effective together.
Jesus seemed to think that it was important for us to come together and agree in prayer. He seemed to value corporate intercession. He said, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20). Jesus also said, in Matthew 18:19, "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."
There are many different ways to pray effectively together. Let's take a look at one of them.
A CORPORATE INTERCESSION MODEL
Corporate intercession is praying together. As a group, we come before God and waiting on Him and catching His heart and then agreeing together on it. The big goal is unity in the spirit. If you don't have unity, if there is tensions and unforgiveness and such between members of the group, stop and deal with that before the group tries to pray together.
Let me share five practical guidelines with you.
1. Start With Lots Of Worship
We like to start our corporate prayer time in the same way we start our personal prayer time, with worship. When we have a group of people come together to worship, we typically need some type of worship music and some type of worship leader. It is ideal if you can use worship songs that most of the intercessors know. If the intercessors are all from the same church, then it would be most ideal to use the worship team or worship leader from the Sunday morning service.
Corporate worship accomplishes several important things so it is important that we don't rush this or cut it short. Worship helps each person to focus their hearts and minds on God, so that they can hear the Holy Spirit more clearly as He directs the prayer time. Worship also helps people bind together in unity, to come into a common an united purpose of being assembled together. At most group meetings, different people will come with different prayer agendas. Most won't be all that interested in the other people's agendas, just in their own. But as the people come together and worship, there is often a connection in the spirit that makes everyone more sensitive to God and to each other.
Finally, worship tends to usher in the presence of God. And when God shows up in a tangible or perceived way, all sorts of good things happen in a prayer meeting. Also, if God shows up in a service in a tangible way, it is not uncommon for some of the people there to experience conviction of sin, and for them to need a bit of silence to each individually repent before God, forgive someone God brings to mind, etc. So there may be a need for times of silent waiting on the Lord during worship.
Another thing that happens when God "shows up" in response to worship is that either the prophetic or healings may break out. If that happens, give place for it.
2. Publicly Give God Control Of The Prayer Meeting
This piece needs to be done by the leader, by someone who is recognized to have leadership authority at the meeting. It is typically a prayer that one person leads and the others agree with. There are three elements to this. It doesn't matter which order they are done in, but it is important to do all three.
TAKE AUTHORITY - You need to take authority in Jesus name over any enemy spirits that might want to interfere with the prayer meeting. Here is one example of an authority prayer:
In Jesus' name, through His power and authority, I forbid any enemy spirits to be involved in this prayer time. I take authority over this room and I command any spirits that do not willingly bow their knee to the Lord Jesus Christ to leave, right now. I forbid confusion or fear or condemnation to any other spirit to become involved in this prayer time.
INVITE GOD'S PRESENCE AND GIVE HIM CONTROL - Ask God to come and be present during this prayer meeting. Invite Him to lead the meeting. Tell God that you are giving God total control over all that happens here. Ask Him to make you aware of any changes He wants to make so that the agenda is entirely His. Ask Him to prevent or "short circuit" anything that would be out of His will for this particular meeting. Invite Him to be in charge to have His way it the meeting.
EXAMINE OUR HEARTS - Give God permission to examine our hearts and to convict us of anything that displeases Him or that will interfere with our ability to pray effectively together. You will need to build in a little time to wait on God as He works silently with individuals to example their hearts and speak to them. This might be silence or it might be soft instrumental music. But it is very important that if you do invite God to examine our hearts, you set time aside to let Him do that.
3. Give Practical Logistical Instructions
You need to give the group some practical logistical instructions of how to pray together. The model I use is to have folks pray short prayers on a single topic, so we can to build on each other's prayers. I let them know that they can pray more than once on a given topic, and that periods of silence are ok. If the meeting is large enough that we are using a microphone, I let them know they need to come to the microphone to pray so everyone can hear their prayer. (People can't come into agreement with a prayer when they can't hear what is being prayed.)
There are the general guidelines I tend to use:
- Silence and waiting on the Lord are OK. Someone does not always have to be talking during corporate prayer
- Pray short prayers, but pray multiple times if you desire
- Keep any one prayer short... 2-3 minutes
- Keep your prayer to a single subject at a time
- If several subjects are quickened to you and there is a long lag where it is ok to introduce a new prayer topic, choose one of those subjects and pray on it. Feel free to jot the others down so you won't forget them.
- Feel free to pray more than once on a given topic
- When you hear a brother or sister pray something, the Holy Spirit may quicken something else to pray about the same subject. If so, feel free to do that. This is building on each other's prayers as the Spirit leads.
- Pray a subject through / Build on each others prayers
- One person starts off a topic.
- Everyone prays along the same topic as the Holy Spirit leads.
- It is OK to pray more than once on a given subject.
- feel free to share scripture that goes with the given subject as God quickens it to you.
- build on each other's prayers as the spirit leads.
- After long pause it is ok for someone who feels led to change topics and group press in on new topic.
4. Intersperse Worship Between Topics
We have already stated how important worship is in a corporate prayer meeting. We have lots of worship at the beginning, maybe even 30 to 45 minutes worth. Once we start praying, we keep the worship short (one song) and at obvious times -- when there is a long break in the prayer indicating that we will soon have a change of subject to another prayer topic.
5. Save Personal Requests And Personal Ministry For The End
In most groups there are varying levels of maturity and expectations. The highest level of maturity is to come to minister in prayer and intercession with no set agenda and without expecting to be ministered to personally. But many people will who come to a corporate prayer meeting will not have that level of maturity. Many will come with their own prayer agendas. Some will come with their own needs and hope to receive some form of prayer or ministry.
What I like to do is to tell people at the beginning that we will have personal ministry at the end. That can take various forms. Sometimes there is a prayer team that prays for individuals. Sometimes we divide people up into pairs and ask them to take 15 minutes to thoroughly pray for each other's personal needs. Sometimes we allow people to share their requests before the group so that the group can intercede for them.
I like to let there be worship music going during the personal ministry time at the end of the meeting. I also like to do what I call renewal style prayer, where each person has hands laid on them and we ask God to come and fill them and meet them and to surround them with His presence.
The bottom line is that in most groups, it is good to have a time at the end where intercessors can receive personal prayer and have their own needs ministered to.