Could Too Much Prayer Time Be an Obstacle for Revolutionary Adult Classes?

Saturday 28th October, 2006
Over the years, I have been in scores of adult classes as a member, guest, teacher, Minister of Education, and consultant. Those experiences have ranged from great to very poor. I have been trying to determine the difference. One thing that I have come to realize is that there can be obstacles to life-change in the Sunday morning experience. They can range from an immoral teacher to a lack of trust in the class, and from open conflict to someone who dominates class discussion, and lots more.

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One such obstacle is too much prayer time. How can this be? Honestly, it is not the prayer as much as it is the prayer requests/list which take too much time. If the time was spent praying earnestly for God's power, presence, and help, it would be well invested. But frequently the prayer is 1 minute in length while the requests are 15 or more. In fact, I have seen classes which regularly had only 10-15 minutes for Bible study after fellowship, announcements, and prayer. Members and guests who came for Bible study often wait impatiently while prayer requests go on and on.

Well, what are options for handling the situation? In my experience, having someone play time-keeper for prayer requests does not work. So I wanted to share several ideas, but you may want to share more by pressing the comments button below. Here are the ones I thought about:

  • move prayer time to the last 5 minutes of class;
  • ask members to write their requests on a sheet that is passed around; have someone copy the sheet to share with the class; one person reads the list (always takes less time than persons telling their story) and prays;
  • pass out index cards; ask them to put requests and their names on cards; redistribute the cards asking the class to pray;
  • keep an ongoing sheet with the regular requests on it so they don't have to be shared again every week; and
  • divide into care groups (leader with 3 members and 3 prospects) and ask them to take 5 minutes to share requests and pray.
Let me share one final idea by way of story. When we lived in Bowling Green, I often listened to WCVK, the Christian Family radio station. Frequently, they would have prayer time on the air. I loved the way they handled it. Instead of listing the prayer requests, and then praying for the requests, the announcers would simply pray for the requests. What a novel idea! Why list them twice (once in requests and then again in prayer)? My suggestion is to collect the requests in some written form, and then have someone in care groups or for the whole class to pray the requests aloud. Try it next Sunday and let me know how it goes.

For more ideas of how to deal with this obstacle, Josh Hunt has written a great article on his website. The article is entitled, Prayer in the Classroom. Check it out. Don't let too much prayer time become an obstacle for life-change in your class. Takes steps to make prayer time more powerful and effective. Be revolutionary!

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