A “prayer meeting starter” is a short Bible study on the subject of prayer, designed to get the pray-ers focused on the task at hand and to give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to prepare us for prayer.
A real prayer meeting is not a Bible Study. When we try to combine them, the meeting becomes a Bible study and prayer is minimized. The difference between a Bible study and a prayer meeting is in its primary purpose. The Bible study’s purpose is to communicate the truth of what the Bible says. The prayer meeting’s purpose is to unite in real and fervent prayer. To try to do both in one meeting is more than the human mind and body can endure in one meeting. Prayer deserves to be maximized and is worth a meeting exclusively for prevailing in prayer.
Robert Murray McCheyne said “A great part of my time is spent in getting my heart in tune for prayer.” This is true for the individual in secret prayer, but it is also true for the corporate prayer meeting. Corporate prayer needs careful and prayerful preparation: we need to prepare our hearts, pray for those leading the meeting, and pray for the Holy Spirit to make it the meeting He wants it to be.
How do we have a prayer meeting that is not a Bible study but is still nurtured by The Word of God? We suggest that the meeting be started with the Word of God. Not just the reading of it but the explaining and applying of it to our lives. Further, we suggest that the subject matter be “prayer” not a miscellaneous topic or text from the Bible. We need to hear what the Bible has to say concerning prayer, especially when we start to pray. It is at that time that we need to prepare our hearts and get our spirits in a praying mode.
Following are articles designed for the leader to use as “starter talks” to begin the prayer meeting. The “starter” should be long enough to develop a single idea and prepare the hearts for prayer, but not long enough to detract from prayer time. It should not become an end in itself, but a means to the end of prevailing prayer. It seems that it takes at least ten minutes and should normally take no longer than fifteen minutes. A one-hour prayer meeting with 15 minutes of receiving what the Word of God says about prayer and 45 minutes of fervent praying is a good basic plan to follow.
The need for the “starter” is that the pray-er is not always and naturally in a mental and spiritual mood to pray. These starters are designed to stir our hearts and minds to prayer. They could be used for corporate or personal prayer times.
We cannot anticipate specific needs and situations. Our plan is to give enough material for a beginner to be able to communicate a complete thought if he just reads the material with a few comments. Those leaders with more experience may not want to use all the material given. We suggest the "cafeteria" method---pick out what is right for the particular occasion.
It might be desirable to give the starter notes to the pray-ers in the meeting. They can keep them for future use in their secret prayer time and/or use them when they pray with others.
Eph 6:17-18 says “And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.” The Word of God is the Spirit’s sword, not ours; it is for Him to use as He sees fit. We hope that the starters will be an instrument in the hands of the Holy Spirit to inform, inspire, and invigorate the pray-ers as they start to prayer.