Today I want to speak to those of you who lead prayer times and prayer meetings. You have a great responsibility in helping people focus on God in prayer. Most of you are aware that the great tendency in corporate prayer meetings and possibly in private prayer is to focus on ourselves, our needs and immediate desires. Let me suggest that the next time you lead a prayer time that you try to stretch the prayer requests people lift to eternal perspectives.
You need to begin by praying about this for several days before you come to the prayer meeting. You might also stir some excitement about such a prayer meeting by announcing in advance what you are planning to do, explaining how you plan to do it.
I would warn you not to complain about how people have prayed in the past. Even in petty prayers people enter the presence of God Almighty. You can tell them, "We will pray for every request, then we will try to stretch it to an eternal perspective."
Explain this again as you begin the prayer meeting. I think all prayer meetings should begin with praise. As you invite people to lift praises explain the difference between praises to our wonderful God and thanksgivings for specific things He has done in our lives. You can lift thanks as well, but you need to help people see that God is great even when He does not give us what we think we need.
Then as people lift requests start stretching them. Different groups and different prayer times need to operate differently, but if it is possible you need to word these petitions. Suppose someone asks prayer for an aunt having surgery. You might pray briefly for a successful surgery and healing. Then ask rhetorically, "How do we stretch this prayer toward eternity?" You might then suggest that you pray for the lady to know she is in God's hands. You might ask that God give her a powerful witness of God's grace to the doctors and nurses.
After you have stretched several prayer requests begin inviting people in the group to stretch prayer requests toward a divine perspective.
I am not leading a prayer meeting right now. But I wish I were. I would like to try this and see how people respond. If some of you try it out, let me know what happens.