The pastor should be one of the greatest prayer warriors in the church and in his city.
I believe that prayer by the pastor should be one of the highest moments in public worship services. This moment of public intercession can be absolutely powerful. In the past few years, I have given a clear and consistent call to bring prayer back into public worship services in the church.
Prayer led by the pastor of the church used to be a normal part of worship services. What was deemed in the past as a part of public worship, has now been minimized, eliminated, or delegated. This is not acceptable or good for the church. It is certainly not biblical.
There are several examples in the Scriptures where spiritual leaders called out to God in prayer before the people of God. Their prayers were passionate, from the heart, and meaningful. Prayers offered by the pastor of the church during worship services should be the same way.
As the spiritual leader of the church, when you pray, you are standing in the gap for the people of God. Here are 10 tips for powerful public prayer:
1. Begin with prioritizing private prayer.
Just as an athlete cannot be in the proper shape to play in a game without working out each day, a pastor cannot expect to pray powerfully in public if his private prayer life is weak. Public prayer begins with private prayer.
One of the most powerful experiences of my life occurred when someone challenged me to prioritize prayer in my life. When I embraced prayer in my college years, not only did it change my life, it also became formative for everything in my life.
2. Base your prayers on Biblical truths.
Prayer is built on the Word of God. The Bible, what God says, ignites our prayers spiritually and ascends our prayers effectively. This prevents us from getting out of balance or off into theological error. Sometimes people think those who practice prayer are intellectual midgets or theologically inferior. Great prayer warriors base their praying on God's Word, the surest truth in this world.
The most highly intelligent and theologically astute should be the greatest prayer warriors on the face of the earth. They should realize the Bible is God's Word and authority on all things, praying with deep belief in God and His power.
3. Set up your prayer context purposefully.
The pastor needs to set up the context for this prayer moment. He can do this before or after asking the congregation to bow their heads, preparing to pray. Plan this moment with diligence. It is not about the length of this moment as much as it is about you leading the people of God in an effective way. Give them time to focus in and help them prepare their hearts to agree with you in prayer.
4. Choose and honor the timing of your prayer.
The timing for you to pray in worship is very important. I prefer to set this time just before we receive the offering. For us, this usually occurs just before the final song before the message, and it becomes a ministry time.
One other thing, pastor, do not shorten this time. Your people need to hear you pray and they also need you to do so in a way that is genuine, not just checking the list of things we do in worship services.
Not only is the timing important, but the amount of time allotted for the prayer is important. Allocate enough time for a three to five-minute prayer led by the pastor. If you need more time to set it up, then add a minute or two in order to make this a special moment for your church.
Having latitude to follow the Spirit of God is key in any worship service. If we are not careful, we are going to schedule God right out of our public worship services in the church.
5. Pray in a way that invites agreement & unity.
When you pray, teach your people how to agree in prayer with you. As pastor, they need to be engaged with you while you are praying. They can agree with you verbally while you pray. As we turn the church house into a house of prayer for the nations, people need to become involved as you pray.
Agreeing in prayer brings the church together in unity. There is a bond created in our people when we pray together and agree with one another. Unified churches become stronger churches. Churches unified in prayer based upon God’s Word become healthier churches. Our churches must have unity within before we can call for unity outside the church.
6. Plan the intent of your prayer.
The ministry of prayer in worship needs to be a planned time. It should have purpose. Just like other things, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Without prior planning by the pastor, this time can become meaningless and disconnected, devaluing this time of prayer in the eyes of the people.
The pastor can even list the topics of prayer to the people before the prayer begins. It is really important that the pastor and the people understand what is happening in the world as well as in the church, so when they pray together as a church, they can be relevant and effective.
7. Pray with conviction.
The pastor should pray with a strong conviction. A conviction is not just something you have in your heart, it something that has you. This will illustrate to the people that you pray because you believe in it, and it really matters. I
t also sets an example for your church to pray with conviction in their own prayer lives. We do not pray to a weak God who expects weak prayers. We pray to our big God who can do anything; therefore, pray with conviction.
8. Pray with passion.
Pastor, when you pray, pray passionately. The people will then also become passionate in their prayers when they see modeled before them a pastor who prays with passion.
Never should we be afraid to have our emotions involved while we are praying, from enthusiasm to expectation, to weeping, and perhaps even shouting. Regardless, be authentic, but make sure you are passionate.
9. Pray for our national and global needs.
Pastors should pray for national and global needs publicly. Pastors and churches need to pray for our national leaders, and about situations existing in the nation and across the globe. If we really believe in prayer, we need to act like it regarding national and global needs and crises.
Please do not confuse this with being political. A pastor can pray for leaders and situations without becoming involved in the politics surrounding these things.
Always take the high road, pray for the needs, and be an example to the people in this way.
10. Prepare your heart posture.
Oftentimes when I pray before our people, I kneel. I do so in reverence to God. He is Lord, not me. He is the Sovereign One, not me.
Then there are times when I pray publicly, I walk around on stage. At other times, I stand still when I pray in public worship settings.
Whatever the outward posture, the posture of your heart should always be humility before God.
The Church Needs to Hear You Pray
Pastor, recapture the pastoral prayer in your public worship services. I want to appeal to you, always pray before your people in public worship services. You are the God-called and God-anointed pastor of the church, which means you are also the worship leader. Do not delegate prayer away from your leadership.
Now Is The Time To Lead,
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the Senior Pastor of Cross Church, President of the National Day of Prayer, founder of the Cross Church School of Ministry, and host of the Ronnie Floyd on Life and Leadership Today podcast.
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