I shared in the Multiply Extraordinary Prayer post about our prayer meeting on Sunday nights from 8pm-12am. We’ve been doing this almost every Sunday night for close to 2 years now & the impact of these meetings has been tremendous.
It does beg the question. What in the world do you guys do for 4 hours? Does one person pray the whole time? Do you just sit in silence most of the time? I’m sure some of you might be thinking, “I have enough trouble praying for 15 minutes; I couldn’t imagine praying for 4 hours straight.” I totally understand. Many of us were the same way when we first started.
When I was growing up, I remember asking my Dad how he prayed so much. I’ll never forget what he said. “Son, sometimes making it to my ‘prayer closet’ is the hardest thing in the world, but once I’m there, there’s no place else I’d rather be.” Wow! That’s how we feel about our Half Night Prayer meeting. Sometimes putting it on the calendar or getting ourselves to show up is challenging because we are all so busy & have a million things going on. But once we show up, there’s no place else we’d rather be for those 4 hours.
We really try to be Spirit-led so the format can vary somewhat each week, but I’ll share a general template that we often use. We don’t do a lot of preparation ahead of time for these meetings. Rather, we just come together & ask the Lord to teach us to pray & then pray the things he puts on our heart. Typically there are 3 of us that give leadership to the 4 hours & it looks something like this.
Hour 1 – Elephant Hour
During the first hour, we are primarily praying for topics related to our elephant church & other American elephant churches. Here are some examples. We pray for:
- People who attended our weekend services that day & asking God to help them obey & share what they heard.
- Upcoming events at our church.
- American elephant churches to all catch a vision for planting thousands of rabbit churches.
- Our various ministries.
- Our staff.
And so on. Typically I will lead that hour and after I introduce a topic to pray for, 2-3 people will pray specifically for it & then I’ll introduce another topic. Again, the topics vary each time but I’ve tried to give you an idea of some of the things we pray for during that hour. Usually the topics are related to “big church” aka elephant church.
Hour 2 – Thai Hour
John, one of our Executive Pastors, who oversees our Thailand vision leads this hour. As you saw in our International article, our church is focused on praying for & sending many workers to Thailand. That’s why we spend a whole hour praying just for Thai-related issues. Here are some examples of things we pray for:
- Our long-term missionary teams currently living in Thailand.
- Funding for our missionaries that are preparing to go to Thailand.
- A movement of God in Thailand.
- Partnership with churches in Thailand.
- Our vision to send 500 workers to Thailand long-term.
Just to name a few. We also spend another hour as a staff praying for Thailand on Thursdays. I can say that spending 2 hours a week just focused on Thailand definitely keeps us fired up about all God is doing there & constantly reminds us to figure out how each of us can be involved in some way. Jesus said that we are supposed to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) so we believe we need to be focused on seeing disciples made in other nations & not just our own.
Hour 3 – DMM Hour
I give leadership to this hour & we pray for a variety of topics related to DMM. Here are some examples. We pray for:
- A movement of God that reaches 1,000,000 in 10 years.
- Our DMM Teams that are regularly making disciples & planting churches.
- More people & churches to catch the vision & go through a DMM training.
- Groups to be started & churches to be planted.
- Generational growth & multiplication.
Those are just a few examples. We spend the whole hour crying out to God for a movement in the USA!
Hour 4 – One Another Hour
Tyler, our other Executive Pastor, leads this hour. We spend a significant part of this hour praying for & ministering to one another. Here are some examples. We pray for:
- Personal requests.
- Individual struggles.
- Our families.
- Funding for ourselves (since many people have either become bi-vocational or are in the process).
- People who are sick.
And so on. Throughout the New Testament, we see the importance of caring for “one another” and we spend a whole hour doing that together. It’s truly a blessing. Plus, at 11pm, we’re all getting pretty tired, so it’s nice having people pray for you.
One thing to note is that we meet together on Zoom, a video conferencing platform. We used to meet at one of our campuses but this made it more difficult for people to participate. Some of our campuses are out of town & so those people were unable to come. And typically one spouse would have to stay home to put the kids to bed. By meeting on Zoom it allowed people to join us from anywhere in the world. In fact, we actually bring people onto the Zoom call sometimes from Thailand & pray for them specifically. Both spouses are often able to join us because they can put the kids to bed & jump on rather than having to leave their home. It’s been a great way to pray together late into the night. Here are some other elements that we will incorporate throughout the 4 hours:
- Songs (typically whoever is leading that hour will just share their screen & play the song as a YouTube video)
- Videos (various DMM/Thailand videos that we’ll play and pray through)
- We will often take a chapter of the Bible at some point & pray it over our church & this movement we are hoping to see. Last Sunday we prayed through Titus 1.
- Usually in the last hour we will spend time in “listening prayer” where we don’t talk for awhile & just listen. Most of us know that prayer is a “two-way conversation” but we often pray like it’s only one-way by talking the whole time. We really try to incorporate listening prayer at some point during the night. During this section people will listen by reading Scripture, sitting silently, walking around, or in other ways.
One thing you’ll notice as you begin to pray for extended periods of time is that the time passes so quickly. While 4 hours sounds like a long time, the first time you pray that length of time, you may be surprised by how quickly it goes.
Another thing you’ll notice is that the more you pray about something, the more you catch God’s heart for that thing which fires you up to want to do something about it. When we pray for Thailand, I feel my heart drawn to want to get involved in some way. When we pray for movements, it excites me all over again about the possibility of what God could do. Many of our staff have commented about how just praying together fired them up even more for the direction we are going as a church. There’s just something special about praying together for an extended period of time.
Unfortunately, you’ll never know if any of what I’m telling you is true unless you try it. What do you have to lose? I’d challenge you to gather some friends together and schedule your first half night of prayer soon. I’m sure it will be hard to make it there, but once you’re there, I bet you’ll feel like there’s no place else you’d rather be.