STUDY TEN: THE ROLE OF PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY – PART TWO
© Rosemary Bardsley 2005, 2014
A. PRAYING ON BEHALF OF THE BELIEVING COMMUNITY
The Old Testament provides examples of representative prayer in which an individual, usually a political or religious leader, prays on behalf of, or as a representative of, the believing community.
Study the passages below. Answer these questions:
 Who is praying and for whom?
 What is the specific focus of the prayer?
 In what way does the person praying identify himself with the believing community?
 What is the relevance of this kind of praying for the believing community today?
- Should we be engaging in it?
- How do you think contemporary pastors and congregations would respond to such public representative prayer?
- Is this what pastors etc are already doing when they pray in worship services?
Identifying with and acknowledging [confessing] the sin of the community
Interceding with God to forgive the community
Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11 [don’t pray!]
Prayer for the Lord’s continuing presence and mercy
Prayer for the deliverance of the community from enemies
B. PRAYING AS THE CORPORATE BELIEVING COMMUNITY
The Bible contains examples of the believing community joining together for prayer, and of the leaders of the believing community coming together for prayer.
Study these passages and answer the questions below:
 What do they say about corporate prayer?
 Does this kind of praying occur in the church today?
 What can the contemporary church learn from this text?
A consistent community activity
Acts 1:14; 2:42; 4:31; 6:4; 20:36; 21:5
1Thessalonians 1:2-3; 3:10; 5:17
Confession of the sin of the community
For the commissioning of Christian workers
Acts 6:6; 13:3; 14:23
For the enabling, strengthening, encouragement of Christian workers and/or Christian community
Colossians 1:9-12; 4:3-4
2Thessalonians 1:11-12; 3:1-2
Expressions of praise and thanks to God
With God’s glory in mind
C. PRAYER IN THE CONTEMPORARY CHURCH
C.1 Prayer in your local church
Make a list of the prayer ministry and opportunities in your local church in which you could get involved. This can include small group prayer, large group prayer, praying with a prayer partner, using the church prayer bulletin, being part of the church prayer chain or network, being on the prayer team of missionaries supported by your church.
C.2 Prayer in the broader Christian community
Within the broader Christian community there are opportunities for prayer. These include:
- Mission organization prayer groups
- Para-church organization prayer support groups
- World day of prayer
- School based parents’ prayer groups
- Praying individually through a prayer diary of a mission or para-church organization.
- Praying through Operation World prayer points for Christian ministry and mission around the world
C.3 Prayer and technology
Mobile phones, SMS messaging, email and social media facilitate prayer in and for the Christian community, both local and global.
Identify ways in which you have used, or could use, any of these to request prayer or to be informed of the prayer needs of others.
D. METHODS OF CORPORATE PRAYER
Below are a number of different practical methods and/or ideas for group prayer. When you participate in group prayer the group should agree together about the method/s so that everyone involved feels comfortable with that method. Note: not all of the methods below exclude all of the other methods. Note also that people should not be forced to pray. If they are present but silent, that is fine. God hears their silent prayers.
|You can add ideas that you have seen work well.
You might like to suggest ways in which modern technology could be used in corporate prayer.
|Method/format||Pros and cons|
|Have praise and prayer points on photocopied sheets|| Everyone knows what to pray for, can choose a point significant to them, and can increase their understanding of a broader range of the praise and prayer points of the church. They can also take it home and pray through it during the week.
May miss out on last minute items, but these can be added manually.
|People write prayer points on a white board as they arrive at the meeting. [The leader may have some already on the board beforehand.]||Enables last minute points to be added.
Enables points from a wider range of people.
Can’t be taken home.
|Praying round the group.||Includes everyone.
Difficult for new people, new believers and shy people.
Can put people off.
|Praying ‘as you are led’||Avoids the problems of the previous method.
Can be dominated by one or two people.
|Sentence or conversational prayer where the group is told that each prayer is to be only one sentence about one point.||Covers more praise and prayer points in a shorter time.
Is easier for the new or shy people.
If people know this is the method, they can write out a sentence prayer before they come.
Allows for added insight about a point to be added to the prayer of another person.
|Allocate praise or prayer points to individuals at the start of the meeting.||Ensures all points are covered.
Can encourage the more timid members of the group.
|If the group is large, split into sub-groups of three or four for prayer.||More prayer for each point.
More people get involved in praying.
Easier for the new or timid to join in.
E. CURRENT PRAYER NEEDS OF YOUR LOCAL CHURCH
Make a list of the current prayer needs of your local church, including any missions or missionaries supported by your church.