For several months now I have been praying with three guys via phone on Wednesday mornings. This is one of the riches spiritual practices for me at the moment. If you’re not in a prayer group, I highly recommend finding or starting one.
THREE REASONS YOU SHOULD PRAYER WITH A SMALL GROUP
Wisdom: When I share personal prayer needs, these guys almost always have good Godly wisdom for me. Or, when they pray about my needs, the Holy Spirit seems to lead them to prayer more clearly than I have been able to.
Support: Perhaps, this is inherent to my statement above; nevertheless, I want to pull this out for attention. Hearing yourself prayed for is a powerful and moving experience. You feel less alone and problems seem so much smaller. You are reminded of God’s faithfulness through other people’s belief in the power of prayer.
Power: I can’t quantify this, but people praying in unity has an amazing power. Agreement is a powerful thing.
THE 5 TIPS
1) Let go of being self-conscious. Many people are afraid to pray out loud. Perhaps, praying out loud feels like public speaking or may be you are just afraid your prayers don’t sound “good enough” or as good as other people’s prayers.
The bottom-line is to remember that God is the audience, not the people in the group. Prayer isn’t a performance, but a conversation with someone who loves you and can’t wait to hear from you. Prayers don’t need to be eloquent or well-articulated to be valued by God, just very honest and humble. So forget pretty prayers and just shoot for honest prayers no matter how raw the form is.
2) Align your silent prayers with the prayers being spoken. Or in other words, when someone else is praying out loud, silently make what they are praying your prayer focus as well. Don’t be lost in thinking about what you will pray next (okay, I must confess, I am really bad about this one) or be off on some unrelated prayer tangent. Seek as much unity in prayer as possible. Keep in mind that if you’re thinking about praying, you’re not praying.
3) Be okay with silence. People get uncomfortable if no one is speaking, but a big part of prayer is listening. Also, someone may be praying about something that they aren’t comfortable voicing out loud. That’s okay. Let the silence be, unless you feel truly led to pray out loud. Silence can be very calming. I use to pray for twenty to thirty minutes in silence with a student group by design. This experience was very formative for me.
4) Make sure prayer is equal to or exceeds discussion. Prayer groups often times become discussion groups with a little bit of prayer. This is an easy trap to fall into. If you find yourself headed down that path as a group, consider praying before talking or capping discussion time with a preset time limit.
5) Observe strict confidentiality. In general, what is prayed about in a meeting should probably stay in the meeting unless you have explicit permission to share it. Never assume, no matter how matter-of-fact a prayer request may seem, that someone wants their prayer request shared.
Similarly, exercise judgment when bringing needs to the attention of a prayer group. There is a fine line between sharing a prayer concern and just gossiping. Again asking permission may be wise. For example, if you have a best friend having marital difficulties, even though they may desperately need prayer, they may not want those difficulties known to people in your group. Simply ask, “Would you like my prayer group to pray for you?”
I hope these tips are helpful for you. Again, I can’t tell you how much this group of three guys means to me. I feel like our time in prayer once a week has really inspired and challenged me to take prayer more seriously in my daily walk.
Also, many times God has answered my prayers, through their prayers. So again, I would really encourage to consider finding or forming a small prayer group.
Wondering What to Do for Daily Time with God?
Drawing upon God’s presence in tough times is easier if we spend daily time with the Lord. If you don’t have a daily discipline of prayer and maybe aren’t sure how to get started, I have a step-by-step guide, A Beginner’s Template for Creating a Daily Devotional Time.
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John Arnold, The Practical Disciple