Why Your Church Needs to Quit Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting

Quit Prayer Meeting

I have a love-hate relationship with all things churchy—especially Wednesday night prayer meetings. My first memory of prayer meeting involved a dimly lit church, really old people (at the tender age of seven, everyone over 15 looked REALLY old), off-key hymns (evidently the organist didn’t attend prayer meeting), intoned prayers and practically jumping out of my skin when a church member belted out a hearty, “Praise Jesus!” in the midst of someone else’s prayer.

My curiosity assuaged, I stayed home from prayer meeting for the next ten years. Until I worked at a summer camp. On Wednesday nights the staff gathered on the floor of the headquarters building and sat around candles set out in the shape of a cross. The song leaders lead out in quiet praise and worship songs. In between songs, we shared our burdens and trails from the week (being with campers 24/7 produces burdens and trails—especially for counselors and staff who had hadn’t finished growing up themselves). We always ended with groups of us praying for each other.

I learned to take Kleenex with me, because invariably I’d end up in tears—tears of joy, of released emotion, of hope and purpose. I left that sacred spot rejuvenated and ready to face seven more days of non-stop work and challenges. My community had prayed with me and over me and we had entreated the God of the universe to help us make a difference.

In the intervening thirty-odd years, I have never found the same community and purpose in a prayer meeting. All too often, the leader wants to study his pet subject in greater depth, or extend the sermon by discussing it during prayer meeting. But me? I long for the community and continuity of those hushed Wednesday nights with 60 staff members jammed into a space meant for 35 people.

As much as I’d rather quit Wednesday Night Prayer meeting altogether, I know, deep down, that meeting with other believers can play an important role in my life. I’ve found the perfect solution to the Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting Blues.

It all started when a new friend handed me book as she drove off, calling out that I should read it, because it could change my life. I felt a little skeptical. How could a book, any book other than the Bible, change my life? Not two hours later, someone doing a training for the teachers at my school held up the same exact book and suggested that we all read it in order to better minister to our students.

As I turn the last pages of her gift, The Hidden Half of the Gospel: How His Suffering can Heal Yours, I understand exactly what those two women meant. If the leader used THIS book at Wednesday night prayer meetings, I would count down the days between Wednesdays.

Even if you love your midweek service and wouldn’t want to change it up at all, you should read this book—it’s NOT a book about prayer meeting, by the way—it’s about a message we all need to hear. Jesus didn’t just die for our sins. He died for our suffering. All of us have hidden pain as a result of the insidious lies that the devil starts whispering in our ears from a very young age.

Jesus didn't just come to take on our sins. He came to embrace our suffering, too. Click To Tweet

Paul Coneff, founder of Straight 2 the Heart ministry and author of the book, posits that all too often counselors, pastors and church members focus on the fruit of sin rather than the root of sin. Once we realize that we need God to reveal to us the root of our negative behavior, we can study the story of Jesus’ suffering to understand how his experience brings hope to our experience.

According to Coneff, satan “leads us into sin, then he condemns us, and finally, he tries to trap us in our patterns of hopelessness forever.” Our only hope, Coneff says, lies in searching scriptures (especially the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life) to see how Jesus intentionally suffered through every possible scenario that we as humans suffer today so that we might have hope for rooting out the devil’s lies as we see how Jesus intentionally came alongside us.

The author shows how Jesus experienced loneliness, abandonment, betrayal, nakedness, physical violation, shame and humiliation, verbal and mental abuse, temptation to numb his pain, feelings of forsakenness and rejection—all so that he could experience the trials that humans have experienced throughout the ages as a result of sin. Coneff calls this suffering the “Hidden Half of the Gospel” because all too often Christians focus on how Jesus died on the cross to embrace all of our sins and fail to see how Jesus also died on the cross to embrace all of our suffering.

By ignoring the aspect of Jesus’ suffering, we fail to avail ourselves of the relief that he offers for our mental and spiritual anguish. The author uses scripture to show how prophecies foretold the suffering of Jesus, how the disciples ignored that aspect of prophecy (even when Jesus told them point blank that he would suffer), and why we should pay attention to Jesus’ suffering so that we can find healing at the root level. When we find healing at the root level, our fruits (addictions, depression, anxiety, angst, and destructive behaviors) change.

An important part of the book involves praying with a partner (the book serves as a training tool for Coneff’s Straight 2 the Heart prayer ministry) on a regular basis. So often I’ve felt inadequate when I feel impressed to pray with someone in crisis—but I haven’t felt equipped or known exactly what to pray for. This book serves as a wonderful starting point.

Instead of traditional Wednesday night prayer meetings, I feel that churches should offer prayer ministry training to equip their members to minister to each other through “Christ-centered, Cross-centered, Word-centered, Prayer-centered community.”
You can purchase this book from Amazon (there are no affiliate links on this site—I simply want to share an amazing resource with you).

Now, to convince my church leaders to ditch Wednesday night prayer meeting and replace it with a training that will equip the members to disciple each other…

How do you feel about your church’s midweek prayer service? Can you think of anyone that this book might help?

Just remember–if you leave two links, please visit two links–after all, according to the survey, community is one of the most important reasons that you come to this space.

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week AND add a link from your archives (2014 or before)

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!

Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

I'm linking up with my friends @blestbutstrest for #InspireMeMonday! Click To Tweet

So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!

Take a moment to visit Angiethe other hostess, too!


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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Great post. I never liked prayer meetings; to me prayer was always part of life; or life was part of a prayer. Meetings always seemed like places for people to show off.

    Question – is the timing right for the opening of the linkup for Inspire Me Monday? I just got the emailed notice of this post, and where the links are added it says the collection will open in 1 d 2 hrs 48 min

    Kind of an Inspire Me Tuesday?
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 59 – Slave to TimeMy Profile

    • Thanks for saving my bacon, Andrew! (Or Stripples, since I’m a vegetarian ;)). I changed it and hopefully it will start around 12:05 am on Monday–not Tuesday! I agree, prayer is like breathing. But I have a deep longing to learn how to pray for other people–I’d go to prayer meeting for that!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…How to Celebrate Advancing AgeMy Profile

  • Hi Anita, good question. Rather than attend service for conscience sake it is better we focus on the real reasons why we should attend.

    Sometimes, may be something to do with a regular and tightly set bureaucracy and laid down “this is how it should be done and nothing can change that” upsets me a bit.

    Thanks for sharing about this book and for the linkup too. Just as surprised Andrew to see it up early too, I was just surfing around for your new articles and luckily ran into the open linkup. Good thing.

    Blessings to you Anita
    Ifeoma Samuel recently posted…3 Powerful Statements Christians Should Stop Saying!My Profile

  • I have an uneasy relationship with Wednesday nights because I feel that I “should” be there, but life just doesn’t slow down enough for me to make the trip. Which adds to the guilt because I SAY that prayer is a priority for me, and, we all know that we make time for the things which truly ARE important to us. (Like linking up here, for instance. . .)
    Michele Morin recently posted…Seven Women. Seven Virtues.My Profile

  • Community is so important when we look at the body of Christ. It is not just the act of attending service but attending to each other that is important! Thank you for this reminder! Blessings for your day!
    Rachel Quigley recently posted…Adoption ~ It Changes EverythingMy Profile

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  • It sounds like a great book and an awesome idea. I haven’t been to a midweek church service in a long time. I would, but our church is really far away so Sundays are pretty much all we can manage for now. That book book sounds really good too!
    Messy Mom recently posted…Breakthrough!My Profile

  • Our church doesn’t have a Wednesday service or prayer meeting. Maybe I am fortunate, maybe not lol.
    Melissa recently posted…Easy Pumpkin Spice Brownie MuffinsMy Profile

  • Thank you for these heartfelt thoughts, Anita. That must have been an awesome prayer meeting at that summer camp. It sounds like the Holy Spirit was truly in your midst. Thank you for the thoughts on the book, too. I love the fact that Jesus also died for our suffering.
    Trudy recently posted…God’s Plan Is Greater Than OursMy Profile

  • Hi Anita, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important topic. I will have to check out the book you mention:) Blessings!
    Kristine recently posted…When It’s God, Go.My Profile

  • Anita,
    What an important truth you share here…about grasping how much Christ’s suffering also means He can empathize with us and He can heal us…yes, it is a process, but I appreciate more what Christ did whenever I contemplate his suffering…blessings to you 🙂
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…6 Things you might want to hear on a hard morningMy Profile

  • Sounds like an awesome resource. Clicking over to Amazon next to check it out….
    I’ve given up traditional Wednesday night church too. Now my husband and I volunteer at a food distribution center in our city every Wednesday. Learning how to serve among the poor has taught me more about Jesus than sitting in a classroom ever did.

  • Great thoughts and thank you for sharing your review of this book. I have never gone to Wednesday night prayer meetings so I have no context for this but do understand the need for prayer ministry training. Hope your week is going well.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Life is What We Make ItMy Profile

  • Wow, I liked what Rachel said above: we need to attend to each other, not just attend a service. Thanks for your interesting commentary and your beautiful picture of the prayer community you were a part of years ago. I know I get a bit tired of prayer meetings where someone preaches, or where people spend forever talking about their needs, and then prayer is relegated to the last 5 or 10 minutes of the meeting! I want instead to seek God together as a community, in prayer. The book looks like it’s a good resources for prayer ministry, which I’ve been involved in and really love.
    Betsy de Cruz recently posted…When You Need to Remember Your Glorious PurposeMy Profile

  • Thank you for sharing this book with us on Literacy Musing Mondays. I agree we need more than just Wednesday night for prayer. We need community and prayer partners.
    Mary Hill recently posted…Drawing Closer to JesusMy Profile

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