Have you experienced what I have? I fidget when group members share every detail of their requests, and yet we never pray for them. I am intimidated by people who pray long, eloquent prayers and don’t want to pray aloud with them. I often wonder how to pray between get-togethers for the daily struggles and deep needs of our group when we only request prayer for illnesses, job hunts, house sales, and traveling mercies.
How can we create powerful prayer times to support one another by bringing our deepest struggles before God’s throne of grace in times of need (Heb. 4:16)?
- Written prayers: I have found that writing individual prayers on index cards before we pray is the best way to share them. Why? First, it forces us to think through how to pray for the request instead of sharing so long that we never pray for it. Remember that God doesn’t need all the details because he already knows. Second, it is a way that everyone can participate without feeling intimidated. Just pass the requests to the right or left, and read exactly what is written, without adding to it. The leader closes and opens with short prayers of thanks. No one is intimidated. Details can always be shared as needed with individuals later.
- Kingdom prayers: Instead of praying for people outside the group who are friends and family, focus on the needs of women in the group. Ask them to word their written prayers by asking God to move in the situation for his bigger purposes. Look at the circumstance from God’s perspective What might he want to do in the situation for his kingdom? As a community, this forces us to pray for deeper needs. If you aren’t sure how to do this, study the prayers of the New Testament and see how they involved kingdom issues: character-building in those who suffered, the glory of God in the midst of persecution, and the knowledge of Jesus in the world. Kingdom prayers are based on scriptures, so such prayers are according to God’s will and in Jesus’s name (Jn. 16:23-24). Go here for examples.
- Email volunteer: Identify a volunteer in the group who will faithfully take the prayer cards home and send them out via email within a day to the group. This allows the group to pray better during the week for members’ needs. It also allows everyone to pray knowledgeably, even when they were absent. There is one concern in this practice—privacy. Let the group know that with emails others may accidentally see the requests. If they prefer not having a specific request emailed one week, they need to write “Do NOT Email” on the card. The leader can take the card to pray personally.
In some special way God is present when we pray together, as we unite as one to bring requests according to his will to his throne of grace (Matt. 18:20). It can be a precious and powerful time if we simply take some practical steps to maximize our time with God and minimize our inhibitions about praying aloud.
What practical ways have you achieved a meaningful group prayer time?