"The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16). It would be rare to find a church leader who didn't want their congregation to grow in corporate prayer. But it can be hard to truly engage people in meaningful ways. The following ideas tap into different learning styles, character types and senses, to draw people into prayer and release intercession from their hearts. Let us know below of other ideas that have worked for you!

Using songs
In many churches, singing makes up the majority of the 'time of worship'. As soon as the music stops, people can take this as a sign to dis-engage. In order to connect worship and intercession, and to continue the 'flow' of music and participation, we often encourage prayer in the midst of singing, or even through singing.

Some great songs which can be used with space for prayer (perhaps, after each chorus) include Matt Osgood's "When our songs", Noel Richard's "Great is the Darkness", Bernadette Farrel's "Longing for Light".
Alternatively, you can sing a simple refrain which can be part of praying for a situation. We often ask people to picture a country or issue in their minds, and then pray for it by singing a line. An example song would be Sam's "Send your blessing", but there are many others written by the Taize and Iona communities. If you get your hands on a book like World Praise you can pick up simple songs for prayer, from all over the globe, enhancing the connection with the worldwide church. At Christmas we have done this kind of thing with lines from Christmas carols.
Using sounds
A great way of immersing people into a situation is to generate sound effects. Our mate Damian put together some war sound effects, which he played over the Taize chant "O Lord Hear Our Prayer".
Alternatively, you could source your own sound effects online, or create them live. Think about the issue you are praying for, and what sounds could represent and evoke those situations.
Using physical objects
Many people are fiddlers, and having something in their hands can focus their attention and inspire fresh prayers. Examples of this on our site include prayer beads, globe prayers, and a bowl made of toy soldiers, but depending on what you are praying for the options are really endless!
Writing prayers
Often people might be nervous of praying out-loud, and will find their minds wander when asked to pray silently. An alternative way to pray together is writing down prayers. This can be done on post-it notes, small pieces of paper, or even on mobile phones and the prayers texted to one number, where the prayers could be collected and projected onto a screen.
Alternatively, people can write on something - such as a wall, an image, or a giant map. The prayers can be read by other people as encouragements and the basis for further prayer. If you are praying for a specific person (such as a missionary, church member, or even a public figure) the written prayers could even be given or sent to them as an encouragement.
Using taste
Taste is also highly evocative. We once used the idea of giving people Fairtrade coffee beans to eat - to help them pray against the bitter injustice of unfair trade, and then Fairtrade chocolate - to encourage them to pray for the sweetness of properly paid workers. If you are praying for issues like drought you could pass around glasses of water. If you're praying for a particular country, you could use food that represents the region.
'Korean' style
This is where everyone is encouraged to pray out-loud, all together, for a particular issue. This can be in English, the speaker's native language (quite inclusive), or even using the gift of tongues. It could even be that people sing out their prayers, to an improvised tune. The logic goes that God hears each prayer, even if we can't make out what our neighbour is saying! You can keep music going underneath this kind of prayer if you like. There is something quite special and energising about raising your voices together.
For some more reserved congregations, you may need to work up to this way of praying! Perhaps start in smaller groups. And avoid being too forceful when you ask people to pray like this - encourage and release, don't nag people into doing something they are uncomfortable with.
Silent prayer
Modern culture has very little space for silence. However, we know from the Bible that often we need to quiet ourselves to hear the voice of God. Also, there are some terrible situations that are best responded to by silence rather than babble. So how can you encourage silent prayer, that doesn't have people's minds wandering?
You might want to have visual images projected on a screen during a time of silence, to inspire intercession (such as this PowerPoint for Remembrance Day) Or you could encourage people to use different body postures - hands raised, knees bowed - or use Andy Stinson's Hand Prayers as a way of focusing silent prayer.
Using Scripture
Almost all of the Bible can be turned towards God in prayer. Consider what kind of conversation with God the passage you are focussing on suggests - lament, intercession, confession, praise, questioning? You could take a line from the scripture passage and use it as a refrain throughout your prayers.
An example of praying through a passage is Sara's structure based on Revelation 21. Michael Perry wrote a book of 'Bible Prayers For Worship' - many of which can be found for free on www.jubilate.co.uk and searching for Michael Perry as author.
Using pre-written prayers
We (rather inaccurately) might refer to pre-written prayers as 'liturgy'. Some people might consider this less 'spiritual' than prayers made up on-the-spot. But consider most of the songs you sing - they mostly have set, pre-written texts, which someone has put a great deal of thought into. Having concise, considered and often biblically based words for prayer is no different really - and there are many contexts where this can be really helpful.
One example is in times of crisis or deep sadness, when carelessly chosen words could cause more upset or offense. A good example of a helpful prayer here is Jimmy Orr's 9-11 memorial prayer.
The Church of England website also has lots of well-written prayers, often on topical issues. A quick web search can also turn up prayers for particular situations. However, perhaps the best option is to write your own, or encourage someone in your congregation who has a gift for these sort of things.
Pre-written prayers can be prayed by a single person for the congregation to say 'Amen' to, but there are also ways of involving the congregation through responsive lines, or leaving gaps for silent or out-loud contributions from the congregation. A simple way to do this is to leave a gap for single-word prayers, eg names of countries or people who are in specific need at the time. This is a good way to mix the prepared and the spontaneous. An example would be these Christmas intercessory prayers.
Over to you...
These are just some ideas. We'd like to hear from you if you've used any other ways of engaging people in prayer - use the Comments box below. You can also find more resources by searching for Prayer or Intercession in our search box, above.