Edwin is our National Director for 24-7 Prayer Netherlands and has an incredible amount of wisdom to share on how to grow a culture of 24-7 Prayer.
Here, he offers a whole bunch of practical wisdom for any community thinking about non-stop prayer:
Around this time last year, some members of a church near Utrecht, Netherlands, decided to organise a 24-7 Prayer week. The leaders of the church were initially a bit reluctant because there wasn’t much enthusiasm in the Church to attend regular prayer meetings.
Despite this, bravely, they decided to give it a go…
Every hour of the prayer week was booked. People encountered Jesus in a beautifully and creatively designed prayer room. The organising team even decided to extend the prayer week with more days!
Members of the church, young and old, were so enthusiastic about the prayer room that they asked the leadership if there could be a permanent prayer room in the church.
Six weeks ago I when I visited, they showed me their brand new permanent prayer space. The church staff even gave up some office space. It was beautiful to see!
Now, however, a team is thinking about how to use the space, because it’s not automatically filled with people.
And this is often the case: after a 24-7 Prayer week communities are often excited, and say that the church needs to pray non-stop.
But the reality is harder.
Which raises the question – how do you build a culture of prayer in your church? How do you move from rooms to rhythms?
In the Netherlands, we’re at the start of this journey and we’re working with some local churches to see this happen, and we’re excited to see how this will develop.
Within the 24-7 Prayer Movement we find Andy Stanley’s thoughts on ‘how to build a culture’ very helpful, where he outlines four steps:
Don’t outsource prayer to the intercessory group. If you want to see it move forward in your church, make sure that you are the first one praying.
If you’re not a leader in your church, make sure your leadership are involved as well. Do they model a prayerful life? Can people see and experience that they spent time with Jesus? They’re the ones who build the DNA of your community, and people will look to them..
Encourage your leaders to prioritise prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom about how he wants to move your church forward in prayer. And if you’re setting up different prayer events, encourage the leaders to be the first ones to attend.
Our experience in the Netherlands is that lots of people who have been going to church for a long time often don’t know how to pray, or gave up because they struggled with it.
Learn from each other and encourage each other not to give up.
A key to building a culture of prayer is to create healthy rhythms. Set up a weekly or monthly prayer meeting that is attractive and not boring (tips here!).
Why not use the church calendar or special events to set up a few regular Prayer weeks each year? This can help your community to reset and focus on Jesus on a regular basis.
Keep sharing stories about how God is answering prayers in your church family. Stories are key to encouraging people that Jesus is moving! Share them on social media, in your small groups and in your weekly gatherings.
Moving from prayer rooms to prayer rhythms can take time and effort, but keep inviting God to be at work within your community and keep persevering in prayer.
For even more ideas, check out the 24-7 Prayer Rooms hub.