119: Building a Prayer Culture (with Tom O’Toole)

When we are planting and leading churches, prayer is crucial. In this episode of the podcast we look at how we can build a prayer culture in the ministry we lead.


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Question to Consider

  • What levers do you have at your disposal as a leader to build a prayer culture in the ministry that you are leading?

Concentric Circles

  • Structurally there’s a whole bunch of things you can do – but be careful starting with programs before culture – prayer meetings sometimes have a reputation as the dead spot of the church calendar.
  • It starts with you.
  • Then a few around you. Luke 11:1-13
  • Then you might get more of a public prayer setting going.
  • Don’t focus on numbers. Focus on the quality of prayer.
  • “To kindle every revival, the Holy Spirit uses what Jonathan Edwards called ‘extraordinary prayer’ – united, persistent and kingdom-centred. Sometimes it begins with a single person or a small group of people praying for God’s glory in the community. What is important is not the number of people praying but the nature of the praying. C. John Miller makes a helpful distinction between ‘maintenance’ and ‘frontline’ prayer meetings. Maintenance prayer meetings are short, mechanical, and focussed on physical needs inside the church. In contrast, the three basic traits of frontline prayer are these: (1) a request for grace to confess sins and to humble ourselves; (2) a compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church and the reaching of the lost and (3) a yearning to know God, to see his face, to glimpse his glory. These distinctions are unavoidably powerful. If you pay attention at a prayer meeting, you can tell quite clearly whether these traits are present.” - Tim Keller
  • Tell stories of prayer
  • Exude faith and hunger for God himself in your general interactions – a downplayed spiritual life doesn’t help anyone. There’s a line to walk of being on fire for God without being weird in the wrong ways.
  • Bring prayer that is more than tokenistic into different settings – one to ones, small groups, etc.

Sundays

  • Gathered worship time – Back to the idea of the church as a temple and a gathered worship time.
  • We fight very hard against a ‘consumer’ idea – lecture, concert.
  • One way is telling people what to do – (all speak in tongues, even to turn to someone next to you and pray) – But this is probelmatic
  • Spiritual Gifts – 1 Corinthians 12:7 – For each and for all (which gift do I have?)
  • This is in a section of 1 Cor that is really about gathered worship…
  • As we worship we are led by the Holy Spirit – and he does this through the whole body.
  • The preacher, the band.
  • All of us - 1 Cor. 14:26
  • Keep is orderly (1 Cor 14:27-33)
  • The role of the anchor
  • The mix of planned and spontaneous – discipling people into things.

Prayer Meetings

  • Come ready to pray
  • Singing helps – Start God focussed.
  • Come with ideas – but be ready to change path as the Spirit leads
  • Mix up the way you pray – as a big group, in twos and threes, all together.
  • Think about seating – a circle can work better than theatre style.
  • Do hospitality well.
  • Laying on of hands.
  • Let prophecy flow.
  • Know when to move it on – learn to read the silence, Is God doing something or should you nudge your musicians?
  • Try to end on something faith building