The National Day of Prayer is held annually in the United States on the first Thursday of May.
Letter to Pastors
I want to reaffirm and give a clear, consistent call to every pastor regarding the place of prayer in public worship services in the church. Today, I want to lift up a specific and significant way to do this.
Let’s Return to the Pastoral Prayer
Prayer led by the pastor of the church used to be a normal part of worship services. What was deemed in the past as a part of public worship, has now been minimized, eliminated, or delegated. This is not acceptable or good for the church.
There are several examples in the Scriptures where spiritual leaders called out to God in prayer before the people of God. Their prayers were passionate, from the heart, and meaningful. Prayers offered by the pastor of the church during worship services should be the same way.Ronnie_Floyd_Praying_Sm.png
The Place of Prayer in Public Worship Services
Prayer by the pastor should be one of the highest moments in public worship services. As the spiritual leader of the church, the pastor is standing in the gap, calling out to God in prayer for the church. This moment of public intercession can be absolutely powerful.
I would like to suggest these things for consideration:
The pastor needs to set the context for this prayer moment. He can do this before or after asking the congregation to bow their heads, preparing to pray. Setting the stage for this moment needs to be an important part of worship planning.
The timing for the pastoral prayer is very important. Personally, I like to set it just before the offering is received, prior to the final song before the message. Many times, the previous song can help me set the context and the moment. Not only is the timing important, but the amount of time allocated for the prayer is important. Allocate enough time for a four to five-minute prayer led by the pastor. Having latitude to follow the Spirit of God is key in any worship service. If we are not careful, we are going to schedule God right out of our public worship services in the church.
Teach your people how to agree in prayer with you. As pastor, they need to be engaged with you while you are praying. They do not need to just be listening in, but involved with you in prayer. They can agree with you verbally while you pray. As we turn the church house into a house of prayer for the nations, people need to become involved as you pray.
While the pastoral prayer is determined to happen within a set time or to help create an atmosphere, what the pastor prays about should be planned as well. This is very important. The pastor needs to set this in his planning, so he can go forward that moment with purpose. If this is not planned, it can become meaningless and disconnected. The pastor can even list the topics of prayer to the people before the prayer begins.
When the pastoral prayer occurs, after setting the context in the best timing within the public worship service, and after planning for this moment, the pastor should pray with a strong conviction. A conviction is not just something that you have in your heart, it something that has you. Convictional prayer will illustrate to the people that you pray because you believe in it, and it really matters. It does work and it does matter, so pray with conviction.
When the pastor prays before the church in a public worship service, he needs to pray passionately. The people will become passionate in their prayers when they see modeled before them a pastor who prays with passion. Never should we be afraid to have our emotions involved while we are praying, from enthusiasm to expectation, to weeping, and perhaps even shouting. Regardless, be authentic, but make sure you are passionate.
National and Global
I am convinced that the pastoral prayer needs to be a time the church is led to pray for national and global needs. Pastors and churches need to pray for our national leaders, and about situations existing in the nation and across the globe. If we really believe prayer matters, we need to pray for national and global issues.
While most of the time I kneel in reverence to God when I do my pastoral prayer, sometimes I walk around the stage while I pray. This is something I determined at that moment and not before. By the way, I think it is very healthy for the people of God to see their pastor kneel as he intercedes for the people and national and global issues.
Experience Anew the Pastoral Prayer
Pastor, recapture the pastoral prayer in your public worship services. I promise you, you will never regret it. You are the Worship Leader of the church; therefore, lead like it.
Now is the Time to Lead and Pray,
Ronnie W. Floyd
President, National Day of Prayer
Senior Pastor, Cross Church
The Bible calls us the Body of Christ and calls us to prayer every day. Here in the United States, the government calls us to prayer just one day a year, The National Day of Prayer. There are three ways everyone in the Body of Christ can get involved this year. This has been an opportunity for us in the United States since 1952. However the Bible has always encouraged both national as well as individual repentance.
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves andpray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Prayer not only brings us closer to God it brings us closer to each other. The Body of Christ has the unique responsibility to call on God to forgive us of our sins and restore us to the Nation that was founded on His name.
Here's our suggestion from Faith Dialogue
#1 Go to your local church and pray!
Jesus said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:17) Think what it would be like if our churches across our cities, counties, states and the nation each became known as a house of prayer! Talk with your pastor, make sure that there is some opportunity for your congregation to gather and pray on Thursday, May 4th. Go with your family and friends! Post the name of your church and any activity here!
#2 Pray in Jesus Name
Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) All too often, Christians are intimidated to pray in public in Jesus name. This is unfortunate as we have assurance of God’s presence and his provision when we pray in the name of Jesus. On May 4th, use the hashtag #PrayInJesusName along with any @NationalPrayer social media tags you may be using on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Let people know you are praying for the country, for our leaders, our nation and for persecuted Christians worldwide.
#3 Wear the Cross
Our First Amendment gives us religious liberty including the ability to exercise our faith in public, at work and in our schools. Wear a cross on a chain, your shirt, your label or on your hat! Wearing a Cross or Crucifix has been determined a “reasonable accommodation” for employers and other institutions. If we don’t exercise our religious liberties, we will eventually lose them.
The National Day of Prayer was established to communicate clearly with every American the need for personal repentance and prayer.
It’s time we demonstrate the unity of the Body of Christ by coming together and praying on America’s National Day of Prayer.
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