When I was young, my dad played in a company softball league. I remember going to the games, watching him play and cheering him on. All I wanted to do was be like my dad, so what did I do? I started playing baseball. I played for years, and I played just like my dad. Why? Because everything that I learned about baseball, I learned from him.
I believe our spiritual lives are the exact same way. We learn from and become who our spiritual leaders are. I think this is most evident with the discipline of prayer. Think about it. You most likely pray how your dad, mom or pastor prays. Personally, no one ever taught me how to pray and they never told me how to start praying. I just picked up on what they said, and over the years my prayers started to sound a lot like the prayers of those I admired. However, if we aren’t intentional in teaching and modeling prayer, we miss crucial opportunities to train our people. Prayer is a crucial part of growing in Christ and for God’s mission. Prayer is the fuel that advances God’s Kingdom.
If prayer is crucial for the advancement of God’s Kingdom, we as leaders must teach our people how to pray, both informally and formally. We also should teach our people what God’s Word says about prayer. We do this by examining how the early disciples and most importantly, Jesus, prayed in the Scriptures. Our people will then understand how their prayers connect to their sanctification and ultimately, to God’s mission. However, we must not stop there. As pastors, we should implement intentional periods of time to actually pray. Why is this important? Because just teaching on prayer while never doing it does not do our people much good.
The ACTS Model of Prayer
With this in mind, we should lead a specific time of prayer during our corporate worship every Sunday. Each time we gather at my church, either myself or another pastor calls the congregation into a time of prayer. We do this by using the simple ACTS model of prayer. The ACTS model stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. Each month, we walk our church through one of the letters, so that our prayers are centered on one topic.
Here are just a few of the benefits of modeling prayer during corporate worship each week:
1. Modeling prayer unites our churches towards God’s mission.
During the weekly gatherings that we focus on supplication, we use the time to pray for our missionaries and church plants. This keeps our church family up to date on what is going on and actively engages them by asking them to pray for more than just our church and our community.
2. Modeling prayer builds strong habits in our church members.
When using simple prayer models repeatedly, it builds habits within the church family by encouraging and equipping people to pray more frequently and effectively. While we want people to pray for God’s Kingdom, we also want them to feel more empowered and equipped as they pray.
3. Modeling prayer provides opportunities for real confession.
This is something that our pastors are currently working on. I believe that when a church practices true and open confession, God will move and work among His people. First, we confess our need for Him. Doing this shifts our focus from our self-dependence to focus on God and who He is.
In the end, we not only show people how to pray, but we also teach them who God is and how they fit into God’s story. Prayer is power for the disciple and an empowered disciple is useful in advancing God’s Kingdom.
In no way am I saying that you have to model prayer the way we do. I understand that adding something to your worship order means cutting something out. I totally get it. We as pastors felt this is what our people needed most. As a leader in your church, you must decide what is best for your people. I pray that the Spirit will lead you as He continues to grow His church.
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