The Essential Elements of a Prayer Meeting
A Catholic Charismatic Prayer Meeting has certain characteristics. The experience of leaders since the beginning of the movement in the late 1960s is that a prayer meeting should contain a good balance of elements if it is going to encourage openness to prayer, gifts of the Spirit, participation by those attending, personal spiritual growth and growth of the community. It is considered that the following elements should be present in a good prayer meeting. Some of these elements may not be present in a particular week, but they should be evidenced throughout a program of meetings.
Invitation: People leading and attending the prayer meeting should be constantly encouraged to invite others to the meeting. The prayer meeting is a public meeting, and should be advertised regularly. We should all be excited (never ashamed or timid) about inviting people.
Preparation: Members of the group should hold the meeting up in prayer regularly. Each person should be committed to participating and serving in the meeting, and should prepare before coming.
Welcoming and Loving: People coming to the meeting should encounter the Lord in the people present from the moment of arrival. Each person attending is called to help others experience the presence and the love of God.
Praise and Worship: Praise and worship needs to be strong and prolonged in every meeting. This has to be a top priority. If it is not good, this should be addressed before every other matter, and worked at until it is right. Praise can be inserted in several places in a meeting.
Awareness of the Presence and Power of God: It needs to be implicit in the meeting that God is present, and will speak and act. It is important to seek and exercise spiritual gifts, especially prophecy, word of knowledge, healing, and prayer tongues. Leaders should constantly seek these gifts, and be ready to use them at every opportunity. The gifts of people attending the meeting (not only spiritual gifts) should be nurtured and encouraged by the leaders.
Proclamation of the Word: It is essential that the word of God be proclaimed, using Scripture and other writings of the Church.
Teaching: A good prayer meeting needs good, regular, Catholic, teaching. There are many resources available to us (including our parish priest). The prayer meeting should have a teaching program that is planned in advance, includes regular Life in the Spirit and other seminars as means of outreach and growth, and is publicized.
Testimony: Sharing with others about God’s action in our life builds up the whole group. This can be done in both minor and major ways within the meeting. Sharing and teaching could be on alternate weeks.
Intercessory Prayer: In this, we become united with the Church, local and universal. Attenders should be able to come and expect that there will be an opportunity for the group to pray for the needs of their family and friends, and for other matters of concern in the world.
Prayer Ministry: Either during or immediately after the prayer meeting, there should be an opportunity for people to go to a prayer team for prayer. Prayer can occur in the meeting in small groups. Prayer ministry is not a time for discussion or counseling — it is a time for prayer, exercising spiritual gifts.
It should always be kept in mind that a Catholic Charismatic Renewal prayer meeting has these aims:
- To bring people to Christ
- To be a channel of grace for all who come
- To help people to grow in holiness
- To help people to yield to the action of the Holy Spirit in their own lives, and in the service of others
- To give praise to God in all things