One problem many churches have in common is dwindling prayer meeting attendance. The prayer meetings in my district were no exception. I tried several ways to build attendance. I taught a series on tongues, usually a sure crowd pleaser. I covered several Spirit of Prophecy books. I even formed a health club, all of which had very little effect on attendance.
Then I began a "Through the Bible" program which has brought prayer meeting attendance to 35-40 percent of my church membership.
Each meeting we cover 28 chapters of the Bible, which each person was encouraged to read at a rate of four chapters a day. At this pace the Bible was completed in forty prayer meetings, or in just ten months!
Since we make such rapid progress, I have found it best to concentrate on a theme and follow it through the Bible rather than trying to cover every verse or subject. Of the many themes that could be used, I chose "God, His covenant, and His People." Each prayer meeting I endeavored to show how the twenty-eight chapters under study related to the theme.
I then arranged the books for study with the theme in mind. For instance, after reading about the covenant and sanctuary in Exodus and Leviticus, we studied Jesus, the Messiah, and how He fulfilled the sanctuary, by reading Matthew and Hebrews. In this way, two of the most difficult books in the Bible were brought together and tempered with a beautiful Gospel. Obviously, I could not spend time explaining the bells and fringes on the priestly garments. But I did show the great theme of salvation through blood alone.
The following is the outline I used. It can be adapted or altered, depending on the theme used:
1. The Covenant Promised
a. Covenant Promised—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus
b. Covenant Fulfilled—Matthew, Hebrews
c. Covenant Conditions—Numbers, Deuteronomy
2. Working the Covenant
a. Story of Job
b. Story of Settling the Land—Joshua, Judges, Ruth
c. Story of David—I Samuel, 2 Samuel, Psalms
d. Story of Solomon—I Kings 1-11, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
e. Story of Israel—Jonah, Nahum, Hosea, Amos
f. Story of Judah—I Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, Micah, Joel, Jeremiah, Lamentation, Habakkuk, Zephaniah
g. Story of Exile and Reconstruction—Daniel, Obadiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
3. New Testament
One of the problems of a series such as this is its length. A preacher cannot always set aside a tenmonth block. But this program can easily be divided into three-month blocks and used as the preacher desires. For instance, it would make an excellent series for the first three months of each new year. It could also be adapted to a September through November series, as well.
I believe the reason this program has received such sustained interest from my congregation is that people are truly hungry for God's Word. If "meat in due season" is offered, those earnestly seeking will come.
Jan G. Johnson wrote this article from Brookings-Gold Beach, Oregon Conference.