I wonder whether it would be good to have a whistle in prayer meetings. The whistle would be for blowing when someone has prayed for too long. Even set an agreed time limit for each prayer and then blow when time is up! The reason I mention this is because I feel that long prayers can kill prayer meetings.
I remember Alun McNabb, in his own inimitable way, speaking of the kind of prayer whereby you feel the brother is coming into land after a trip around the world, but then suddenly takes off again….. and on he continues.
My experience is that prayer meetings tend to live when there are many people contributing short prayers. In such a situation different people will be praying more than once. In such a scenario people are able to keep concentration and an energy seems to prevail in the meeting. On the other hand, long prayers are difficult to concentrate on as someone moves from this person to that person and this issue to that issue. Long prayers can be the domain of those who delight to hear the sound of their own voice. But also, I feel some people use long prayers as a means of proving their spirituality. It is as if the thinking is ‘if I keep going for 5/10 minutes then everyone will be so impressed and think that i am so spiritual.’
I would never want to legislate so as to people having to pray for a certain period of time. But I would want to give a good example. This is, of course, essential if you are an elder or are specifically leading a prayer meeting. It is you who sets the tone.
And when you are in a prayer meeting where there seems to be some fire and the people of God are praying to the Lord with energy not verbosity; then it is a great experience.