t is a famous story. Charles
Spurgeon loved to take people to
the “boiler room” of his church.
Confused why he wanted to show
them the heating system, they soon
learned that it was actually a prayer
room where hundreds of Spurgeon’s
church members met to pray for him
during his sermons.
While he preached, his people prayed. And God heard.
Spurgeon is still called “the Prince of Preachers.” His
preaching stirred more than the ten thousand listeners
that gathered each Sunday to hear him in 19th century
London. Manuscripts of his messages stirred people
across the globe, and his sermons are still read today.
One church prayed and nearly every Bible-believing
church in America has benefited—because it would
be very unusual if your pastor has not read Charles
God is not partial to Londoners over a century ago.
He is ready to answer prayer today. He is looking to
demonstrate his power in any church, anywhere, that
will give him that same opportunity to honor prayer.
What does your church need? If your first answer is
some program or ministry, or change in music style, or
better preaching, then prayer won’t be a priority.
There is a quotation from A.J. Gordon hanging on my
office wall: “You can do more than pray after you have
prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you
have prayed.” If we really believe what our churches
need is more of God then we will pray first and
work on everything else afterwards. Usually it
is the other things we depend on to make our
churches what we want them to be. But if we
became serious about making our churches
what God wants them to be, prayer would be
given the highest priority.
How can we increase prayer in our churches?
I suggest looking at prayer in three categories:
formal, informal, and personal.
By formal I mean the scheduled, structured
prayer times in a church. These need to
be planned and they need to be attended.
Encourage your leadership by attending
the prayer times already scheduled or
encouraging them to start scheduling them.
These may be a mid-week prayer service, a
prayer time for the sermon right before the
morning service (or during the sermon as one of my
churches did for me), a Saturday morning men’s prayer
breakfast, or a ladies’ prayer time perhaps connected to
a new mothers ministry. My church has a ladies’ prayer
time specifically to intercede for the children and their
teachers in school, especially in public school.
Informal prayer is given spontaneously as the church,
the body of Christ, interacts. As believers gather for
fellowship, a time of prayer—perhaps for an urgent need
of a beloved member—can be such a blessing. When
people share about a trial, how meaningful when the
person listening says, “Can I pray with you right now
about that?” I often saw two people with heads bowed in
the hallways of my church before and after services.
Finally, personal prayer is the private praying each
member does alone. Jesus called this our “closet”
(Matthew 6:6) where we commune with God and
intercede for the church. A specific place and time
for this is best for most people who otherwise forget.
Make a prayer list or use prayer cards such as the ones
missionaries provide. You can make your own prayer
cards on index cards for the pastors, Sunday school
teachers, shut-ins, and others you want to remember.
Don’t be discouraged if you are not a praying person
now. Just determine to start by praying short prayers
throughout the day as God brings things to your mind.
Charles Spurgeon said he never prayed more than
five minutes at a time, but he never went more than
five minutes without praying. Didn’t the Apostle Paul
encourage us to “pray without ceasing”? This is what he
Prayer doesn’t have to be difficult to arrange in our lives.
If we think we need to find a quiet place, get on our
knees, confess all our sins, pray for every missionary,
and do it with tears in our eyes we are mistaken about
the kind of prayer God hears.
Anyone can pray. And your prayer may be what God
is waiting for to do something special in your church.
When I finish praying I often remind myself that because
I prayed, God will do more than he would have done if I
had not prayed. God is loving so he will act on our behalf
even if we don’t pray—but he does more when we pray.
Friend, pray just a little more.
David Childs is Vice President for Student
Services at Appalachian Bible College and
a member of Maxwell Hill Baptist Church.
He and his wife, Linda, have two sons,
two daughters, and two grandchildren.
His interests include history and cowboy
movies, which inspired him to build his
own muzzleloader.