Worship-Based Prayer Service Guide

How to Begin

The following guide has been developed as a resource for local churches to strengthen their corporate prayer services. This format has been developed over decades of biblical study and trial in a wide variety of situations, church cultures and styles around the world. The goal of this document is to encourage churches in their journey to host more enjoyable and effective prayer services. Please use this guide and feel free to make adjustments that best meet the needs of your church or situation.

 

Take a following steps into consideration to grow the culture of corporate prayer at your church.

 

  1. Establish continuity among the church leadership around the priority of prayer and commit to participate in the frequency determined for your prayer services (i.e. weekly).

  2. Identify individuals who want to participate in the prayer service. These often include, but are not limited to, singers, musicians, and intercessors.

  3. Appoint a team (formal or informal) to begin planning the prayer services.

  4. Supplement your prayer service with a healthy diet of teaching and resources on prayer.

  5. Connect your prayer service to regional prayer efforts in your city and state.

Service Nature

The essential characteristic of the service should be its priority on God as the primary audience regardless of the number in attendance. This service is primarily a ministry to God with heaven as its inspiration. It can be beneficial for the first few services to remain closed to the public while the team practices setting their attention on their heavenly audience.

Make every effort to avoid “preaching prayers” and keep prayer topic introductions brief. Sermons are not a component of a worship-based prayer service, although you may wish to include a brief exhortation on prayer in your service.

Why Worship-Based Prayer

Music adds a great deal of enjoyability, cohesion and inspiration to corporate prayer. Worship-based prayer is the biblical model of the Tabernacle of David, the New Testament church, and of heaven where the Father’s will is expressed unhindered by sin or preference. Adding music to corporate prayer alleviates awkward silence, facilitates unity and is itself a meaningful expression of ministry to God. No particular musical genre or style is required with only a basic level of musicality. Additionally, music is scientifically proven as the most effective method of sustained engagement and singing the most effective method of learning.

Warning!

This format does have a learning curve. It takes practice. Approach it gradually recognizing that it will take time to become comfortable. It often takes a few trial runs for team members to become confident. The longer you stick with it, the more expressive the team will become. Over time it often becomes the favored format for corporate prayer.

Prayer Service Values

There are three core values associated with this worship-based prayer format.

 

  1. Centrality of Scripture: Scripture is the essential inspiration for every lyric and prayer. This value maintains critical grounding in biblical truth as each participant learns to pray and sing biblical prayers.

  2. Team Ministry: Every member of the team acts in unity, listening and submitting to each other and engaging with the Holy Spirit. Maintaining communication as a team will allow for the recognition and development of corporate themes as the Holy Spirit leads.

  3. Inclusiveness: The goal of the worship-based prayer model is to sustain enjoyable prayer and enable every attendee to participate in corporate prayer. Strive to eliminate any element that would hinder anyone’s ability to participate in prayer or worship.

Team Members

A worship-based prayer service typically includes the following team members. You can simplify or expand this list according to your situation or available team members.

 

   Worship Leader        Prayer Leader        Band        Chorus Leader        Singers       Sound/Media

 

Worship Leader: Usually an acoustic guitar or keyboard player who will co-lead the service with the prayer leader by initiating corporate worship.

 

Prayer Leader: A designated facilitator who will co-lead the service with the worship leader by initiating corporate prayer.

 

Band: Musicians who will support the flow of the music for the duration of the service. The band can also designate a music director to facilitate the development of spontaneous musical themes under the direction of the worship leader and prayer leader.

 

Chorus Leader: A designated singer, usually the strongest singer, who will be responsible to initiate, repeat, or end a spontaneous chorus based on the prayers or selected passage. This role can also be assumed by the worship leader for simplicity.

 

Singers: Guarding the melody and providing strong support especially during spontaneous singing under the direction of the worship leader and chorus leader.

 

Sound/Media: Designated to pay careful attention to direct the seamless transition of service components between worship and prayer.

Prayer Service Format

Worship-based prayer services can be organized by a series of components called “cycles.” Each cycle flows seamlessly and repeatedly in the following order. Times may vary according to your service.

 

  1. Corporate Worship(10-15 minutes) – Corporate worship brings the room into unity as the most recognizable expression of corporate participation. Corporate worship also directs the attention of the room away from self and toward God. To emphasize this effect, prioritize songs written to Godrather than about God.

  2. Spontaneous Singing(5 minutes) – Flowing directly from the last song, the worship leader can invite the room to sing simultaneously in their own words to the Lord. Functionally, this adjusts the focus from corporate worship to personal engagement with God in preparation for prayer. In larger groups, the greatest engagement is typically achieved when initiated at the height of the song when the singers and band are strong. A simple phrase like “sing your own song to the Lord” can initiate Spontaneous Singing at the end of a strong chorus and can naturally resolve with the chord progression. Spontaneous Singing serves as a signal for prayer leader to prepare to transition to the next component.

  3. Prayer/Passage(15-20 minute) – This component can be approached in either of two ways: Intercession or Worship With the Word. During this component the music will adjust to an appropriate level while supporting the prayer leader. Musically, it is best to maintain a recognizable tempo and chord progression as a foundation for further development.

    • Intercession: The prayer leader will pray and invite others to pray, from a microphone if applicable, about a topic from a passage of scripture while the band plays appropriately. After the prayer leader(s) concludes their prayer, a moment can be given to allow the singers to sing a chorus that reengages the room (2-3 minutes). The prayer leader can also transition into small group prayer, spontaneous “popcorn” prayer, or personal prayer ministry.

    • Worship With the Word: The prayer leader will introduce and a read segment of Scripture for the worship team to sing (Psalm 145 for example) while the band follows musically. The prayer leader and singers will alternate reading/singing through the passage, repeating choruses along the way for the room to sing. The singers will sing responsively, developing lyrical/musical themes and singing choruses based on the passage by repeating a phrase, paraphrasing and cross-referencing other passages. Over time and with practice, this is a highly effective form of songwriting and biblical study.

  4. After the final prayer or chorus, the cycle seamlessly repeats with new songs.

The timing of each component can be adjusted to fit specific service lengths. Multiple Prayer Service teams can be easily interchanged and sequentially scheduled to sustain extended lengths of time. An entire day could easily be sectioned into hourly or two-hour segments seamlessly stitching multiple teams together in continual worship-based prayer.

 

It is common to need time to become comfortable with this format. Do not be discouraged if you cannot incorporate every component right away. Start simply and take time to practice each component adding them gradually to your services. You will begin to recognize increased engagement, enjoyment and creative expression as your team becomes more familiar with the format over time.

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