Prayer should be a vital part of all of our worship experiences. If worshipers listen carefully to the average prayer in worship, they may wonder whether the one offering the prayer is even listening to what he or she is praying.
Here are seven ways to make prayer a ministry in worship:
1. Have prayer request cards available in the pews.
One point is made clear from our worship service, prayer is important to the pastor, staff, and church family. All requests from Sunday morning are placed in the prayer chapel for prayer warriors. This communicates that worship extends beyond an hour on Sunday morning.
2. Ask people to turn in the names of anyone for whom they are praying to be saved.
They can turn in the names on the prayer card and a list can be compiled later. In a smaller church, the first names could be called out loud. Again we place these names in the prayer chapel for ongoing prayer support.
3. Pray for specific needs in worship.
In some cases, there may be some serious situations for which it would be appropriate for a small group of people to gather around someone in worship, lay hands on the person and pray for him or her.
4. Form circles of prayer around guest speakers.
On many occasions, we have guest speakers, missionaries, denominational workers, college presidents or others share testimonies in our worship services. At the end of the invitation, I ask people to come and encircle our guest to pray for that person and family members who are there as well.
5. Ask the church family to pray in groups of four or five.
Another option is to ask people to pick a prayer partner and pray for each other in the service and regularly for the next month at a specific time of day. This helps extend the worship experience past one hour on Sunday.
6. Ask people to lift their hands if they have a prayer concern.
Encourage people nearby to place a hand on the person's shoulder so he/she will know someone is praying specifically for that concern during the pastoral prayer time.
7. Make staff and deacons a part of the prayer ministry.
As part of the invitation, ask your staff or deacons to line up across the front of the sanctuary. Invite people to come forward if they have a prayer request, and the person will pray for him/her.
I also ask our staff to line up across the front and invite people to come forward and pray for each staff member. This is usually done as part of the invitation time and has become a powerful way to minister to our staff in worship.
Perhaps if our prayers were a more vital part of our worship, children would begin to realize we are not "pretending when we pray," but that the ministry of prayer in worship is serious business.