Small groups are the logical environment for developing disciples. Many skills associated with following Jesus are taught and learned inside a small group. Prayer is one example.
I recently read Steve Gaines’ little book, Pray Like It Matters. The title grabbed my initial attention but the chapter titles drove me to complete the book in only a few days. Most can finish the book in one sitting. Even as short and direct as Pray Like It Matters is, I would recommend a slower read. Two of the chapters helped my praying: “What Hinders Our Prayers” and “What Helps Our Prayers.” As small group leaders, let’s consider another chapter: “The Power of Praying Together.”
Pastor Gaines describes the benefits of praying together. His main emphasis is the resource of having a prayer partner. Praying together allows many people to agree in prayer. Praying together magnifies our prayers as we unite in bringing adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and petitions before God. We must all pray on our own. But praying together allows us to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Prayer is not nor can it ever be about cajoling and manipulating God. Yet God has planned that when we pray together, He listens in a unique way (Matt. 18:19-20). If prayer helps us embrace God’s heart and mission, imagine how important it is to pray together. Husbands and wives should be praying together. The church should unite in group prayer. Acts 4:23-31 describes the results when the united church prayed. Their meeting place was shaken. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. They boldly proclaimed the Word of God.
Here are some ideas for praying together in small group:
- Be the example. Lead out in group prayer.
- Divide the group into sub-groupings for prayer. In a group with women and men, divide into gender groups for prayer.
- Set up groups of three inside your small group as prayer teams. Keep these teams as consistent as possible for a significant length of time. Let the same three pray together over and over. This builds relationships not possible if you are constantly re-arranging prayer groups.
- Challenge your group members to get prayer partners. These could be inside the group or outside the group. If they are inside the group, make time in meetings for the prayer partners to pray together. Let these pairings exist for a significant period of time. We cannot have instant relationships. Give group members enough time to cultivate relationships that will grow.
What might happen if your group united in prayer for a need everyone shares?
Scripture: Read Matthew 18:19-20. What is the condition in verse 20 that relates to the effectiveness of praying together in verse 19?
Dig Deeper: Read Pray Like It Matters by Steve Gaines. Please note that small group teaching plans for Pray Like It Matters are available from the publisher’s site.