By Bill Search
Now let's talk about how to have a great prayer time in your group.
Leave an adequate amount of time.
The first step is to make sure you leave an adequate amount of time at the end of your group for a good prayer time. When your group first starts, maybe 15 minutes is adequate. What you'll find is that as your group bonds with each other and people become more open and transparent, it might take upwards of 30 minutes for your group to share prayer requests and share updates. Just make sure you have an adequate amount of time for your particular group.
Then what you’ll want to do is lay out some guidelines. One guideline I prefer is that prayer needs to be specific to the individual sharing the request. In other words, I'm not suppose to ask for prayer for a co-worker's nephew’s cousin, or something like that. Why? Because it's probably not a specific burden to me. People shouldn't be scratching their head going, "Well, I guess I'll ask for prayer for that. I wouldn't pray for it, but maybe these people will."
In other words, if you don't pray for it already regularly, don't share it with the group. It should be something that means a lot to you.
Write down the requests.
Another aspect of having a healthy and strong prayer time is make sure someone writes them down. Make sure they go in some sort of prayer journal or prayer log because it's great to re-visit those prayer requests as time rolls on and find out how God answers those prayers.
Distribute the requests, but keep it confidential.
Some groups use Facebook and e-mail to distribute prayer requests. However you do it, make sure that you keep it confidential within your group if the prayer requests are of a confidential nature.
Have one person pray or split into multiple groups.
Once you get to the actual time of prayer, after you've shared requests, what you may find is that it's okay to have one person give a blanket prayer and encourage everybody in the group to pray outside of the group.
But another thing you might prefer is to split the group into prayer partners. Then you have groups of 2 or 4 sitting down and sharing prayer. That way, they'll feel more comfortable sharing requests and praying. Actually, more people will end up praying. In fact, if you sub-divide your group, even if your group is 8 or 10 people, if you sub-divide your group for prayer time, more people end up praying because of the way you've divided up the group. More people praying is always a good thing.
There's all sorts of creative ways to keep prayer exciting and alive, but these are some good steps to get you started in the right direction.
*This is the seventeenth post in a series of 27 Tips for Small Group Leaders
BILL SEARCH is the author of Simple Small Groups. He has served in ministry for nearly 20 years. Bill loves spending time with his family, drinking great coffee, listening to jazz, and enjoying the great outdoors.