In chaotic times like the one we currently find ourselves in, it can feel a bit disorienting, as though our equilibrium has been thrown off. It doesn't feel good. In fact, it can be incredibly anxiety producing. Of course, this is true not only for ourselves personally, but also for our churches. Our normal rhythms have been hijacked. The reality that things are out of control has become all too evident. So, what does a church do in times like this? In the face of so many challenges and needs that must be addressed in our congregations, where do we begin?
We begin where the Scriptures tell us to begin in times like this: On our knees in prayer.
If there was ever a time to be on our knees, it is now. And if there was ever a time to begin an online prayer meeting at your church, it is now. Here are 7 keys to help you lead an online prayer meeting effectively in times like this:
#1. Pick a day, a time, and a chat option. You may choose to have a daily online prayer time, or perhaps it works best to meet weekly. Whatever you choose to do, make it clear to your congregation both the day and the time you will be meeting. Noon can be an effective time for a meeting like this, but some churches choose an early morning or evening time. Do what works best for your people. Also, as far as length goes, I would recommend a 45-60 minute prayer time.
You will also need to choose a chat option that will allow for your congregation to gather and pray online together. Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype are all great options to consider and look into. Be sure to clearly communicate with your people how to download and use whichever chat option you choose. Go the extra mile to help those in your church who are not very tech savvy get set up so they can also be part of the prayer meeting.
Once you determine the day, time, and chat option, you are ready to launch your online prayer meeting.
#2. The day has come for your first online prayer meeting. Wait to start the meeting about 5 minutes after your scheduled time. This allows latecomers to join the start of the call without distraction. Use these five minutes to greet people my name as they sign in...it always makes people feel good to know they are noticed and valued.
#3. Begin the meeting by welcoming everyone. Share the vision for this prayer time, which is to call out to our awesome, all-powerful God together in the face of a strange and challenging time. Remind folks that there is nothing better we can do in this season as a church then to pray. This is what God calls us to in times like this.
1 John 5:14: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
#4. Share how your church is planning to have this online prayer time every week. Emphasize how this prayer time is going to be a top priority for your congregation over the next several months. Share that your hope and challenge to everyone in your church is for individuals to commit to being part of this prayer meeting as often as they can.
#5. Four quick, practical things to remind the group about before you start praying together:
- Prayer is simply having a conversation with God and so pray as you feel led to talk to God.
- Silence is okay. Use times of silence to simply continue in silent prayer to the Lord.
- In a prayer meeting like this with many other people, shorter prayers are best and gives everyone a chance to pray for things as they feel led.
- When they want to pray, they need to make sure and UNMUTE their audio so that the others can hear them.
#6. Decide who will start and close the prayer time. It’s always helpful in prayer meetings like this to make it clear who is opening and who is closing. As the leader, you may want to open and close, or you may want to ask someone else to. My recommendation is for you as the leader to always close the prayer time so you can make sure to end on time.
#7. Thank everyone for coming and encourage them to join this prayer time again next week. We hope that folks will make this a part of their weekly rhythm. Encourage them to mark it down on their calendar. Depending on the size of the group, you may want to shoot a text to those who came sometime during the week, encouraging them to join you again next time.