How can I prepare my heart before I facilitate a time of dynamic corporate prayer?
As I have opportunity to facilitate a time of corporate prayer, I am never very far from thinking about that time of prayer and what the Lord might want to do during it. If, in fact, that time of prayer has the possibility to help those in the group connect with and encounter God in a more meaningful way, if this is an opportunity to see more of heaven affect earth, then I have a huge responsibility and op-portunity before me. I always take it as seriously, as seriously as if I were to preach or teach.
In addition to the things I do just prior to the time of prayer, here are some things I do even when the time of prayer is days or weeks away. (For what I do just prior to the time of prayer see Question 6.3) I try to live a surrendered life all the time. But as I consider facilitating a time of prayer, I specifically surrender my heart, mind, desires, thoughts, and motives to Him so He is able to use me any way He might choose. I spend time praying for the people who will be coming. I pray that God’s desired outcomes would take place as a result of this time of prayer.
I also take time to pray and specifically ask the Lord for His direction for the time. I always ask Him to lead the time through me or through someone else. The interesting thing about this prayer is that He rarely answers it when I pray it or how I anticipate He will answer it. It is not like a conversation with another human. In that setting the communication flows. I speak, they listen. They speak, I listen. Their words relate to my words.
But I have found it is not like that with God. I speak, He listens… but often doesn’t say anything right then. Later, when I am not thinking about it at all, and often not expecting it, He speaks. The key thing at that point is for me to listen, and make a note of it.
|The interesting thing about this prayer is that He rarely answers it when I pray it or how I anticipate He will answer it.|
For example, after I have prayed about my role in a time of prayer I may be driving, or engaged in a conversation with a friend, or watching TV, or reading, or studying another topic. Then, there is a clear thought about (for example) some aspect of God’s wonderful grace. And I sense there is a connection between that thought and the time of prayer I am scheduled to facilitate.
Or, I may sense Him say, “When you are with ______ (a certain group) I want you to start the time of prayer by focusing on My grace.” Most often, I am not thinking about that specific time of prayer, but the Lord nudges me to use that thought with that group.
I always ask for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, that I might see and fan what He is doing. Since the Holy Spirit is the best facilitator of prayer – according to Romans 8:26 He helps us to pray – it is essential to seek to be sensitive to His leading as we lead. He is that “still, small voice.” Scripture says He comes in the form of a dove. When doves land, they land in places without a lot of com-motion. The same is true with the Holy Spirit. He comes to the person whose spirit is calm enough for Him to find a place to land. So, I seek to quiet my heart before Him. As we seek Him and trust Him, He will be very faithful to lead us.
|In the same way many preachers or teachers are always asking the question of Scripture, “How could this text preach?” I am asking, “How could this text pray?”|
In addition to specific surrender and specific prayer, there is one other thing I do on a regular basis. When I read, hear, or study Scripture, I am most always asking the question, “How could this truth be prayed?” In the same way many preachers or teachers are always asking the question of Scripture, “How could this text preach?” I am asking, “How could this text pray?” It is important to note that my question is not simply about how I might lead others in prayer from this verse, but rather how can I pray from it. Sometimes as I prepare to facilitate, the Lord may remind me of a way I have prayed from Scripture and I sense I am to invite others into it, but that is not the primary reason I do this. I do it because I want to use every opportunity to pray and press into the Lord.
While writing this section, I randomly opened my Bible to il-lustrate how this might work. I opened to the Triumphal Entry passage in John 12: 12-15. As I asked the question, “How could this passage pray?” a thought came to me from v. 13. It says, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” In addition to Him coming in the name of the Lord, Jesus also does other things. So, a way I could pray from this verse is, “Blessed are You who saves me, in the name of the Lord.” Or, “Blessed are You who has created all I see and all there is, in the name of the Lord.” Or, “Blessed are You who will keep me from the evil one, in the name of the Lord.”
Because I have made a habit of doing this when I am not thinking or preparing for a specific time of prayer, I have found it comes very naturally to me when I am considering or even facilitating a time of prayer.
*Blessed by Doing – Begin to practice what I wrote above about asking how a truth from a song or from the Scriptures can be prayed. Do this often, until it becomes second nature to you.
*Blessed by Doing – Also be intentional about preparing your heart before the Lord before you facilitate your next time of prayer.