A brother pastor asked me to describe our typical Wednesday service to him as he is planning to launch one in his church. I thought I might reply here as I am always glad to share the things we do and even happier to glean good ideas from others. Take a look at our plan and let me know how your church prays.
The goal of this time is to encourage the saints. So we generally sing 3-4 songs that remind us of the Gospel and what God has done for us in Christ. We also read through books of the Bible (one chapter at a time). The reader is a man who is trained (or in training) who, once he completes the reading, gives us a two-minute devotional based on one of the verses from that text. There are multiple reasons this is limited to two minutes, including the fact that we have all the kids with us.
We also ask the children for prayer requests during this time. Generally this takes 3-5 minutes of responding to raised hands and jotting down how we can pray for them. The adults pray for these requests later in the evening.
Sometimes we add other components like small group prayer, testimonies, a special presentation of some sort. We think of this service as something akin to a really great family meeting. We want it to be encouraging, enjoyable and Godward. I want the guy who is faithfully slugging out in a difficult work environment to look forward to getting his family to church on Wednesday because he knows he is going to be encouraged.
After a short prayer we all disperse to our different activities.
The adults head to a room to spend the next hour in prayer. We do not really teach in our prayer meeting. We may look at a text of Scripture to help fuel our arguments in prayer, and take some specific requests for prayer, but our goal is to actually pray for a good 50-60 minutes. (For an idea of how we pray, see the “Prayer Sheet” at the bottom of this article.)
Due to the size of our prayer meeting we often have to divide the group into two.
7:30-8:45 Kids and Youth
The children and youth are divided into age-appropriate classes where they receive instruction in the Word (we currently use materials from Children Desiring God and The Gospel Project) and have a time of play in the gym. Through the years I have been the main proponent of play and some day I should write a post on why I think there is spiritual benefit to the church when it is encouraged.
Everything is done by 8:45 so that the parents with little kids can get them home and to bed and prepare for the rest of the week that we just disrupted with our late night! That said, there are generally many people here until well past ten. I stay behind to meet with a group of men I am mentoring.
On the back of our song sheet is condensed listing of these requests:
- we rotate through the list of members, praying for 16 a week
- we rotate through each of the classes and pray for all the children in the class by name
- we use Operation World and pray for whatever country falls on the date of our prayer meeting
- we summarize a few key points for prayer and give a little data on the country
- we pray for all the elected officials of our area from city councillors to our Prime Minister (one per week)
- we pray for two area churches each week
- when we are on our "A" Game we contact that church for prayer requests earlier in the week
- we have two ministries outside of our church that we support financially and we pray for one of them every week
- we significantly support two missionaries and pray for one of them each week
- we rotate through a list of all our church ministries and pray for several of them each week
- we pray about what was preached the previous Sunday, asking God to help that truth take root
- we also pray for the preaching of the coming Sunday