Steps to Getting Started

Included below are some helpful format suggestions for your committed day of prayer. These are suggestions, and I encourage you to tailor these to best fit the culture of your church. Be encouraged also to take advantage of this opportunity to stretch beyond your typical comfort zone. The formats described below are time-tested by decades of practice in a variety of church cultures. You may find them applicable to more frequent use.

24-Hour Prayer Format

There are two primary approaches to sustaining 24 hours of continual prayer. 

Individual Participation: The simplest is to designate a room and invite the members or small groups in your church to sign up for a section of time to be present. This approach is suitable for smaller congregations with fewer resources as it can be accomplished with just 24 people participating an hour.

Corporate Gatherings: Broader engagement can be achieved by including as much of the congregation as possible throughout the 24-hours. Worship teams can be partnered with prayer teams to host corporate prayer segments open to the public. While this requires more coordination, the resulting experience is profound and easily replicated.

Steps to organize corporate gatherings:
  1. Select a space with the appropriate size, accessibility to the public and the desired music capability, even if it is just an acoustic guitar. Try to use a space where the coming and going of participants will not be a distraction.

  2. Break the 24-hour schedule into smaller segments of 1 or 2 hours.

  3. Assign a prayer leader and worship leader to each segment. Gaps in the schedule can be filled by smaller groups with worship albums when live music is not available. You can assign prayer topics to each segment or use the prayer guide in each segment.
Segment Format

It is important to acknowledge that positive engagement is not found in the execution of a program, but in setting the focus on the presence of God. Here are three values to help guide various formats.

Inclusive: Serve and enable participants to engage with God in every element.
Immersive: Create an atmosphere centered on God’s presence from start to finish.
Inspiring: Strengthen the culture of worship and prayer by setting the example.

UP-OUT-IN is a popular progression of focus that begins with worship and prayers of gratitude and adoration (focusing up), then interceding for needs in the community and the prayer guide (focusing out), and then praying over each other (focusing in). This cycle creates a natural progression that can be easily repeated and maintains positive engagement.

Consider this outline to help intermingle music and prayer:

1.    Start with worship and set your attention on praising the Lord. Songs of praise and gratitude align the heart rightly for prayer. Spend anywhere from 20 - 30 minutes worshiping until your heart and those gathered are at peace and ready to pray.

2.    Transition to prayer as the music continues supportively, spending 10-15 minutes speaking your prayers or praying in groups. User shorter times if focus is difficult and extend the prayer time as focus matures. Consider putting your prayers to the music and sing them spontaneously. Spontaneous singing, while potentially awkward at first, accelerates the growth of a flowing heart of prayer. This can be done with a live band or alone with your instrument or favorite worship album.

3.    As focus dissipates, naturally return to worship and prepare to reset the process with new songs and the next prayer topic.

This cycle of intermingled music and prayer is refreshing and energizing, and has been historically proven to sustain prayer for not just an hour, but decades.

At the end of a prayer segment, transition teams of worship and prayer leaders as seamlessly as possible, perhaps with a worship album playing overhead. A seamless transition helps maintain an immersive environment.

Morning and Evening Prayer

Hosting morning and evening prayer gatherings is modeled after the day and night prayer of the Old Testament tabernacle at the start and end of each day. These could be gatherings of focused attention amidst your 24-hour schedule or could be alternatives for those unable to coordinate 24 continuous hours.

You can utilize the same format provided for corporate gatherings described above, focusing on the morning and end of the day rather than 24 hours. Schedule an hour or two at the beginning and the end of the day and invite the members of your church to gather to worship and pray, utilizing the ArkansasPrays Prayer Guide. You can use a single worship leader or full band, depending on your capacity.

Pray Where You Are

For churches unable to host corporate gatherings, or as a supplement to your gatherings, encourage your members to take time to pray through the ArkansasPrays Prayer Guide throughout the day of your commitment regardless of their location. 

Contributor: Logan Bloom, Founder of Arkansas For Christ.