Many of you are familiar with Chuck Lawless who has written several books: Membership Matters, Spiritual Warfare, and Discipled Warriors. Well, Dr. Lawless has written a great article entitled Is Your Church a Praying Church? In it he shares some differences he listed in Discipled Warriors between churches that talk about prayer and those that really pray.
I want to share the actions he lists of churches that really pray and apply them to our Sunday School classes. The phrases in all capitals are from Dr. Lawless, but the commentary following is mine. Phrases in brackets are substitutes for "church," "preach," and "preaching."
Classes that really pray . . .
- TEACH PEOPLE TO PRAY. They have a plan that is intentional. Teaching is more than about corporate prayer; it is about a daily lifeline to God. This is done by word but best done by example. Much mentoring happens. Prayer partners are common.
- ACTUALLY PRAY AT [CLASS] PRAYER MEETINGS. The class sets aside time at other times than Sunday morning to pray. And when they gather, the time is never 90% requests and 10% prayer. In fact, they are more likely to pray their requests rather than to share them or talk about them.
- [TEACH] ABOUT PRAYER AND PRAY DURING [TEACHING]. The teacher and class delight in lessons that focus on prayer. Prayer and Bible study are partners in a conversation with God. Bible study leads to prayer and vice versa. When God has spoken to us in Bible study, prayer is a natural response. Lesson application of God's truth often call for prayer.
- INTENTIONALLY PRAY THROUGH THE PRAYER LIST. Classes may divide the list and have each small group pray through the list. They may assign one or more request on the list to prayer partners. A leader may simply lead the class to spend the time they have praying privately through the list.
- HAVE A PRAYER MINISTRY THAT COVERS EVERY OTHER MINISTRY. Classes that really pray enlist prayer warriors within the class to pray for everything they do as a class. They pray before, during, and after each class event. They pray for class fellowships and class sessions. They pray for the teacher, members, absentees, and prospects. They pray for ministry through the class to the community and world.
- HAVE LEADERS WHO MODEL PRAYER. This does not always have to be the teacher, but the teacher must realize its importance. Someone within the class must take the lead. It should proceed from the fabric and spirit of the leader. It should be obvious that the individual not only values prayer but actually prays.