Secrets to Facilitating Corporate Prayer
By Phil Miglioratti
As church leaders realize the need for more and fresher corporate praying, they recognize a critical need for people who can facilitate, rather than merely moderate. Moderators typically depend on printed prayer lists, requests offered by the group, and predictable methods and structures to guide the prayer time. Facilitators, on the other hand, make the whole experience easier to do, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide the content and format of the prayer time. By relying on Him instead of a rigid agenda, they enable the group to pray in line with the mind of Christ about the matters close to the Father’s heart.
Good facilitating requires being mindful of the process that takes place before, during, and after the prayer gathering. Facilitators have taken the time to discover the “secrets” of leading a group into the presence of the God.
Biblical facilitating is mostly about obedient listening. If you are the facilitator, the prayer meeting begins for you hours, even days, before the actual meeting as you ask the Holy Spirit to set the focus and design the format. Begin by asking God to design the upcoming prayer time. Try these suggestions:
- Note impressions or ideas that come to you as you begin to pray, for instance the Holy Spirit may reveal Scriptures, songs, even stories that you can use as you facilitate prayer
- As the meeting draws near, pray over the ideas and ask the Lord to clarify the main purpose of the prayer meeting
- As the Spirit guides you, design a loose format for your time together
Be ready to make adjustments to your original plan in order to avoid hindering the Spirit as the group moves forward in prayer.
You will grow in their abilities to facilitate as you identify and sharpen the skills and tools the Lord has provided for you for your strategic roles. These include your:
- ability to hear God speak to your spirit
- skill at discerning God’s voice in the prayers of His people
- readiness to yield to the leadership of the Spirit
- employing your senses, for example…
Eyes – Ask the Spirit to show you what is happening in the spiritual realm through what you see in the physical realm. Look for signs of boredom (yawning?), conviction (tears?), seeking the Lord (searching Scripture without being asked?). Then, ask Him to help you discern how to continue.
Ears – Listen to the heart of the prayers being offered. If several persons pray on a particular theme or issue, that may be a sign that the Holy Spirit wants to park there for a while. Be ready to gently remind people to stay on topic and make certain it has been covered before introducing a new topic or request. Refuse to rush; wait for the Holy Spirit to show you when it’s time to move on.
Voice – You need not wait until the session is over to ask for feedback. Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit as He inspires the reading of Scripture, and through the prayers or observations of others. Ask questions such as:
- What are you hearing in the passage we just read?
- Does anyone else have a prayer on this theme before we move on?
Feet – When you divide the corporate body into small groups, walk around and listen to their prayers. This is a lifeline for you as you seek to facilitate the entire group. Your purpose is not to judge their prayers but to know how well each group is praying according to the plan the Holy Spirit is unfolding.
Some of the best lessons on facilitating a group prayer dynamic are learned by listening to the participants discuss their experience in a “debrief” segment. The purpose of a “debrief” is to help participants feel comfortable with a new form or style of praying by talking about their experience and even voicing their difficulty or concern. A few simple questions after the prayer session has concluded usually prompt beneficial observations and good insights:
- What was your experience like?
- Was this style of praying different? Difficult?
- How did the Spirit lead us?
- What did you hear the Lord saying?
- Any surprises? Concerns? Questions?
- How did you feel when I asked us to…?
If your request is met with silence, don’t panic; silently pray for the Spirit to reveal something helpful through the comments of His people. You will gain valuable insight into the attitude and readiness of the group, allowing you to adjust the speed of change and the amount of instruction the next time you pray together.
Of course the most effective prayer experiences are led by the Holy Spirit, but He is always looking for skilled people to get the group on the path and point the way.
- Phil has also written a chapter in a new textbook on prayer. Click here to view/purchase Giving Ourselves to Prayer.