Suggested Prayer Meeting Format
Revised November 2010
Prayer groups are those people who fully "participate" and are engaged in the active promotion of a prayer meeting as the primary outreach of the prayer group. Prayer groups accomplish very little unless they are following the action of the Holy Spirit who is the only true evangelist in the Catholic Church. (USCCB document “Go and Make Disciples”).
Prayer meetings are evangelistic events aimed at drawing participants into a deep experience with God through the action of the Holy Spirit.
The structure of the leadership of a prayer group includes:
The parish pastor: The parish pastor is ultimately the final voice of authority of any parish prayer group since he speaks for the Bishop in all aspects regarding his parish. Prayer groups are obligated to develop a collaborative relationship with the pastor and his staff since the parish prayer group is an evangelistic ministry of the parish. If the parish pastor decides not to pastor the group directly and does not wish to appoint a member of his staff (such as a deacon) to aide him then by direction of the Bishop of Richmond the responsibility for oversight falls to Deacon Darrell Wentworth, The Bishop’s Liaison for Charismatic Renewal.
1. Greeting minister(s) - this person(s) extends the initial hand of love (God’s very presence) to all participants attending a prayer meeting. The primary initiative of the greeter is to welcome and make the prayer meeting participant feel at home. He/she explains to first time attendees the format of the meeting, what to expect, and then once the meeting starts sits with the new participants to "walk them through and explain" what is happening. Then after the meeting makes himself/herself available to answer any questions and request contact information to keep the person informed. Also offers to put the person in touch with the prayer team if two-on-one prayer is desired.
2. Discerners – At least two discerners are needed for each prayer meeting. The discerner assists the leader of the meeting by being a person newer participants of the prayer meeting can come to in order to decide if something needs to be shared. Their secondary role is to be a kind of bouncer to remove any undesirable activity from the prayer meeting room to another location. Example: the 90 second rule applies here. If the Holy Spirit come upon a person in a dramatic fashion and the person starts to cry loudly disrupting the meeting. The Discerner decides if the action is of a personal nature or a corporate nature within no more than 90 seconds; then acts to remove the person to another room if it is of a personal nature assigning 2 prayer team members to minister to the person or to explain that what is happening is of a prophetic nature. These actions are of a personal nature, most of the time. Out of respect for the dignity of the person being affected the person should be escorted to a private room for short ministry.
3. Worship minister/team – Music is a primary means of entering into the Lord presence. The saying “When we sing we pray twice” is extremely true because our hearts and minds enter into the action. The goals of the worship minister/team are to help the participants put aside their distractions so they can recognize that Jesus is present to them personally as he promised. And then to create an atmosphere of worship and faith to help the participants experience the Holy Spirit speaking to them individually. The worship team must never “put on a show”; perform in a concert style where the attention is drawn to them; or be so “rehearsed” that they become inflexible in following the leading of the Holy Spirit during the prayer meeting.
4. Meeting Leader – The meeting leader has the responsibility of discerning the direction the Holy Spirit intends for the prayer meeting. He/she may not necessarily be the prayer group leader. The meeting leader is the primary discerner of the action of the Holy Spirit during the prayer meeting. He/she will open with a greeting and a call to worship inviting the Holy Spirit to manifest his presence. Explain the process of the prayer meeting, collect all of the “word gifts” that come during the meeting and decide on the flow of the meeting based on prior prayer and on the current discerned action of the Holy Spirit. He/she may need to clarify senses of the Holy Spirit given during the words, and may also need to correct doctrinal issues if egregious “words” come forth. Prays back to the Lord the response suggested by the overall sense of the word gifts. He/she introduces the Catechist for the evening.
5. Catechist – The Catechist is a person who has been discerned by the prayer group leader and the pastor to have a gift of teaching. According to the guidelines of the diocese, the Catechist will have been certified by the diocese as a catechist by, at a minimum, completing pathways certification. The Catechist is responsible for discerning what teaching the Holy Spirit desires to convey to the participants of the prayer meeting that day. ICCRS suggests that a catechist be assigned to give a teaching one month in advance. The catechist then writes down on 3X5 cards the scriptures or other texts that are received through Lectio Divina, “AHA moments” or in other ways are “highlighted” by the Holy Spirit over the next 3 weeks. Each 3X5 card would include the scripture passage and one or two sentences explaining the core of the insight received. A week prior to the prayer meeting the catechist collects and cards and places them onto a table and then organizes them into two categories: personal and corporate. The corporate cards are then placed into an order to convey the overall sense of what the Holy Spirit is saying. In some cases the Catechism of the Catholic Church should be referenced to clarify the church’s teaching if a specific direction is discerned. The Catechist will then share the overall sense of the talk with either the pastor (if he desires) or the prayer group leader or both prior to giving the talk. The sharing should last approximately 15 minutes but no longer than 20 minutes. If it becomes clear to a group that a particular area of formation is needed then a formation class can be given, separate from the prayer meeting, where the topic can be thoroughly discussed and a question and answer session can be given. Furthermore, the pastor should be given the opportunity to have extensive input into those formation classes.
6. Prayer team – Prayer teams are two individuals, married couples are acceptable unless children are the recipients, who have been trained in the ministry of prayer for inner healing and physical healing. The teams should operate in the same room as the prayer meeting or in a room that is accessible to others for the protection of the recipient and the team. In our society men and women should both be present in a team so that the recipient can be comfortable receiving prayer from one of the two and the other as an intercessor or supporter if necessary.
The Typical Flow of a Prayer Meeting
30 minutes prior to the meeting the entire team gets together for prayer for the meeting. They invite the Holy Spirit to manifest His presence in their room and the upcoming meeting. I would suggest that they pray in tongues much of the time to intercede in the Spirit for the Spirit’s upcoming work and their openness to His leading. This may take 10 to 15 minutes. If it lasts longer the greeters should leave after 10 minutes to assume their responsibilities. After the prayer everyone should assume their stations so the meeting can start on time. Discerners should sit on either side of the room. At the established start time, the prayer meeting leader should greet everyone present and open in prayer. (Training on how to run a prayer meeting should be given to each prayer meeting leader.)
The first 45 minutes or so of the meeting should be given to helping people enter into God’s presence through a combination of worship music, inspired prayers, words of knowledge, short prophecies or words of encouragement or direction, with the music ministry and prayer meeting leader flowing with the discerned action of the Holy Spirit. Allow the gift of Tongues to flow freely. I would recommend that the prayer meeting leader and the worship leader sit close to each other for easier and less distracting communication. The time of worship should come to an end when the vast majority of the participants have entered into the presence of the Lord as made visible by the peace and awe they are expressing. The leader would then either continue the word gifts if they have already started or invite them if they have not yet started. Participants should be encouraged to be bold in speaking their impressions of what God is speaking. This is the primary purpose of the meeting: to help everyone hear God speaking to them! It is the Father’s desire to be His children’s teacher. The leader should then summarize the words through a prayer directed to the Father, through the Spirit, in the name of Jesus. The time now is about 60-65 minutes after starting unless the Holy Spirit has directed something else that took longer. The leader then introduces the Catechist and a brief description of the topic being shared. That sharing lasts 15 minutes or so. The leader then draws everything experiences into a time of intercession inviting everyone to speak healing or God’s will into the various situations in their life: again short prayers of one-liners surrounded by tongues being prayed in a low tone. At the end the leader closes with a final prayer and blessing, then informs people of the prayer teams and the ongoing ministry.
PO Box 64307, Virginia Beach, VA 23467-4307
Deacon Wentworth’s Cell 757 287-9881 email RCCR@verizon.net