Whether in a Christian context or a secular one, praying before a meeting has become something people do as a routine and not out of complete dependence on God. That is why we should know why we pray before opening a meeting and remind ourselves of the essence of such a prayer—that the reason behind it is not mere routine.
Why should you pray before a meeting?
We pray to God because we are humbling ourselves before Him. Instead of trying to do things ourselves, we pray as our first response to something because, at the end of the day, we acknowledge that we are dependent on God for everything. It is His providence that sustains us every single day. It is the same principle that we have when it comes to why we pray before opening a meeting.
Praying is essential before a meeting, whether the meeting you are about to have is in church or is secular. It is crucial in both contexts because, as mentioned before, prayer is an act of humility before God by His people, who depend on Him. Even if you are the only Christian in your workplace and are leading a prayer before the meeting, you should still depend on God. However, the prayer you pray as you open a meeting will differ depending on whether the meeting is in a church setting or a corporate one.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:6-7
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
In a church setting, you are leading a prayer with volunteers or ministers who are all Christians. Therefore, your mindset about depending on God, glorifying Him in what you are about to do, etc., is also their mindset. You may be leading the prayer as you meet, but all of you rely on God and commit to Him the work you are about to do, knowing that everything you do is for God and His glory.
Christians depend on God because they seek His grace and mercy. Everything comes from God alone. He is the Creator of the universe. Not only do finances, healing, strength, and other things come from God, but also abilities like knowledge, intelligence, understanding, talent, etc. People have those things only because of God’s mercy. If you have seen successful people who are not Christians, the assets, wisdom, intelligence, talent, and everything they have are only because of God’s mercy and common grace in them, which He showers on both the wicked and the righteous.
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
When Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that no wise man in Babylon could guess or interpret, Daniel told his friends to seek God’s mercy concerning the mystery because he knew that, in the end, whatever abilities or intellect they had came from God alone. They were not to try to solve problems by their human wisdom, no matter how wise they were, but they were to depend on God by seeking His mercy. Another reason Christians should pray is that, as mentioned a while ago, praying to God is a posture of humility. We pray because we are humbling ourselves before God, understanding that we don’t do things on our own.
That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
If the context is outside the church, such as having a meeting in your workplace, for example, the reason you pray is still your reliance on God. Although most probably your teammates are not Christians, even if they don’t depend on God, you should depend on Him and be the salt and light toward your co-workers. One of the ways to do this is by showing them, through your prayer and the way you work, that you are not proud of your abilities; that you are dependent on God and know that everything comes from Him alone. That is not to say that you are to try to impress people. The point is that, as a witness of Christ, your dependance on God should be evident in your life.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
What makes praying before opening a meeting in a secular setting different is that your main goal in your prayer is to point people to Christ. Yes, you still pray about depending on God and seeking His mercy, but you point people to Christ even beyond that. You pray before opening a meeting to be the salt and light in the workplace.
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
How do you lead an effective opening prayer?
To know how to lead an opening prayer before a meeting, first one should know the things that he or she can pray for before starting a meeting.
First of all, in the church context, you can pray for God’s grace and mercy as you meet because all intellect comes from Him. Similar to Daniel and his friends, seek God’s mercy and grace. As you meet, you expect to do excellently—not through your capabilities, but by His Spirit.
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
Another thing that you can include in your prayers as you meet with ministers or volunteers in the church is for God always to align with you and remind you of why you are doing what you are doing – which is all for His glory – and you will not derail from that. For example, let’s say you are meeting for an event planning for outreach on campus. Realigning your goals means always going back to the main reason we are doing what we are doing, and that is to glorify God and serve Him. Whatever we do, it is never about us, but all about God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Another essential thing to pray as you start the meeting or do things for the ministry is for your heart. Pray that the meditation of your heart shall always be pleasing and acceptable in the eyes of God. It is essential to have a pure and right heart as you meet and do ministry. The heart is the core of one’s being; the seat of a person’s emotions, thoughts, feelings, choices, etc. That is why we have to make sure that we have an upright heart as we open a meeting—to ensure that our motivations while serving God are pure and that we are not doing it out of pride or self-interest.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Lastly, pray to God that He would cause your meeting to be productive. A productive meeting means achieving the goals that you wanted to achieve, like settling on some matters, being able to discuss specific agendas, coming up with excellent ideas and plans, etc. Whatever goal you have met in a fruitful and productive meeting, it is all because God has caused your work to bear fruit.
Here is an example of how you can pray for the opening of a meeting in a church setting:
Heavenly Father, You are the God Who is the source of everything. All intellect, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding come from You alone. I pray for Your mercy, that You would give us wisdom and creativity as we are about to start our meeting and discuss the ministry works that we are brewing up. Give us the grace that we need to be excellent in the work that we are about to do. Always align our hearts to be upright and pure so that our motivation in doing what we are doing shall always be to serve and glorify You. I pray that we will have a fruitful meeting and finish what we need to finish in today’s meeting. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
If you are praying in a secular context, there are things that others can’t relate to because they are not Christians. For example, they won’t be able to relate much about your doing what you are doing (even the secular work that you do) for God and His glory. For them, they work for other motivations. However, it is up to you if you want to include that. Still, it is good to include depending on God and seeking His mercy as abilities you need as you meet. That way, it would show them that whatever talents and abilities discovered are there because of God’s mercy and grace and not because of their capabilities.
In the end, don’t forget to point out the Gospel in your prayer. Whether you can find a way to transition your appeal toward the Gospel smoothly or not is fine as long as you point people to the Gospel. You don’t have to preach the Gospel while praying—if you do that, your prayer would become very long, which will backfire on you and maybe even close their hearts even more in the future. A short mention of the Gospel will do.
Here is an example of how you can pray in a secular meeting:
Heavenly Father, You are the God from whom everything comes. Everything we have, even our talents and abilities, comes from You alone. I pray for Your mercy and grace; that You will help us do excellently in the meeting that we are about to have and we may experience a productive outcome. Thank You, because Your greatest display of mercy and grace is not the abilities You have given us but Christ, Whom You sent to die for our sins on the cross so that we may have eternal life and receive forgiveness in Him. Thank You, because everything that we do in Christ has a purpose. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
You can see that the Gospel was merely mentioned in the prayer; just enough to point people to what the Gospel is all about. While you may have pointed people to the Gospel in your prayer, it is essential to note that it does not change our mandate to preach it to them in other contexts. In the end, we are expected to preach Christ to those who don’t know Him.
If you are a Christian in a secular workplace, by all means, volunteer with your superior to lead the team in prayer before you start your meeting. It is an opportunity to minister to your workmates and mention the Gospel in the prayer that you will be praying. If you are a superior yourself then, by all means, lead your team into prayer before and after you meet.