December 21, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Prayer
A Praying Generation
Many years ago, when I was still a teenager, my dad pastored a church that had a weekly prayer meeting of about 50 people. What made that prayer meeting somewhat unique was that it was filled with people who prayed as their ministry in the church. Many of them were single women who were very powerful in prayer.
One of those ladies was a woman by the name of Evangeline Paisley. She was a thin little wisp of a woman—not more than 80 pounds. She had had surgery to remove cancer on her nose so half her nose was missing. She was in her eighties and prayed for hours every day. When she started to pray, the atmosphere in the room changed!
Then there was Miss Cork and Miss Cullin. They lived together for most of their lives. I always felt Miss Cork prayed with such an authority! She asked with such a bold confidence and seemed to be on such intimate terms with her God. I had never heard anyone pray that that!
All these dear friends have passed away and are now with the Savior they loved so dearly.
What stirs my heart when I consider them is: “Where are the praying ones of this generation to fill the gap that they have left?”
Future Generations That Seek God In Prayer
How do these kind of people emerge in our churches? If they do not exist right now, can we do anything to develop them? Where do these people come from?
In Matthew 6:6 we find instructions from Jesus to “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father”. This is the priority of personal prayer. Then later in Matthew 21:13 Jesus tells us “My house shall be called a house of prayer”. That’s the priority of corporate prayer.
My friends, we have many believers in our churches who have never moved from the “room” to the “house” of prayer!
I believe the key to this lies in a place that is going to make us feel somewhat uncomfortable. It lies with those of us who are pastors.
Pastors That Lead In Corporate Prayer
Corporate prayer meetings allow our congregations to see and hear us praying—for praying is more caught than taught! Thankfully, the great gift of the gospel is the Holy Spirit, and he helps us with our struggle in this area!
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26). There is a grace for prayer and a grace through prayer - “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased” (Psalm 138:3).
Is it possible to grow a new generation of people devoted to prayer? While only God can do this, here are a few suggested “grace-steps” to position us for God’s activity:
- Pastoral teams devote a quarter of their meeting times together to praying together. Talk with God, not just with each other.
- Pastors starting to pray with their wives 1-2 times a week for 20-30 minutes. Connecting our marriages to instant grace!
- Pastors beginning a corporate Prayer Meeting in the church where all the pastors and their wives participate (unless the children are very young). What a value this communicates about what matters!
- Have the corporate prayer meeting once a month or twice a month to begin (Prayer Meetings need to be given time to develop momentum—walk first, then run)
- Keep the Prayer Meeting to one hour initially. Include singing, short teaching on prayer (10-15 min), and 30 minutes of solid prayer.
- Give clear instructions about how to pray (if in a large group “speak up” etc). Give clear instructions about what to pray (“for the next 5-7 minutes we want to pray about our need of revival using the following three promises of Scripture”)
- Train small group leaders to guide people in prayer using simple instructions. Sometimes break into groups of 5-8, sometimes groups of 3-5, and sometimes groups of 2-3 depending on the content.
- Remind everyone often of the gospel provisions for prayer—The Holy Spirit, the Word of God, other peoples examples, and even prayer itself. Like driving, we learn to pray in the doing more than the studying of it!
- Teach the church to pray specifically. This requires faith. This makes the answers that come all the more precious!
- Regularly remind them of answers to prayer. Have people share testimonies of answer to prayer in church services and at Prayer Meeting. These build faith!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the present younger generation in Sovereign Grace churches grew into powerful people of prayer in their senior years?! We will be what we are becoming---so let's plan today for that tomorrow!
Tim Kerr is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church, Toronto. Tim grew up in Kolkata, India where his missionary parents were involved in church planting and teaching at the Calcutta Bible College connected to the historic Carey Baptist Church. After marriage, Tim and his wife Joanne served in Japan for 12 years as church planters. When they returned to Canada, Tim led a one-on-one mentoring ministry for several years that greatly impacted Christian businessmen, pastors, and church planters in Ontario. This strong mentoring ministry has continued in the Sovereign Grace Church, which he planted in 2004. Tim and Joanne have 4 children aged 17-24.