In some typical worship services, church members raise their hand and share prayer needs. The pastor writes these down and prays for them during the congregational prayer.
The Hope In Christ congregation engages in corporate prayer as part of a Sunday morning worship.
At Hope in Christ Christian Reformed Church in Bellingham, Wash., pastor Scott Roberts wants his congregation to engage in deeper corporate prayer. “A large number of Christians don’t know how to pray. They know how to ask for things,” he said. “We have to teach people how to pray.”
So after a discussion about future ministries for their congregation, a small group of church members studied corporate prayer and hearing the voice of God. “We had not spent that time praying to God as a corporate body and asking God, ‘What do you want us to do?’ It’s one thing to ask and another thing to be able to hear and discern,” explained Roberts.
The church hosted a weekend seminar in February sponsored by International Renewal Ministry. For two days 45 people learned how to pray corporately and to listen to God’s voice. They spent time reading Scripture and discussing how to discern the Lord’s leading. “We don’t have to stumble and see what the future is. He will start faithfully pointing things out as we pay attention,” Roberts said.
Roberts said that because of the studies on corporate prayer, the elders spend more time lifting up various needs to the Lord and less on general business. “We are seeing people coming into a newness of life and knowing that [the] elders do pray. . . . They take what they see in Scripture seriously and do the things that are written there.”
Church members are also meeting in small groups during the morning worship service to pray for local needs as well as churches around the world.
The church will host a follow-up conference in April focusing on using spiritual gifts in prayer. Both conferences were funded by a Sustaining Congregational Excellence grant. These grants are available to help smaller churches grow and flourish.