Prayer is a vital component of small-group life. It sets up and maintains the health and vibrancy of your group. Sound prayer practices can affect your group in the following ways:
- Positively influence how your small-group participants interact and minister to one another
- Empower and mobilize your small group to reach out and incorporate spiritually unconvinced people into the body of Christ
- Open the hearts of the hurting to God's healing power
- Open the ears of those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ to the gospel message
For these reasons, you should incorporate prayer throughout your small-group meeting. While each meeting should include prayer, you can keep things fresh by changing how you pray.
- Ask a small-group participant to open your gathering in prayer.
- If you begin your meeting with a meal, pray for your small-group meeting when you pray for the food.
- When you welcome the last person, officially open the meeting with a brief prayer.
- Begin your study and discussion time with prayers of thanksgiving and praise.
- Pray through your church's weekly bulletin.
- Pray immediately after a concern is raised—don't wait for the official prayer time.
- Be as specific as possible when you pray. Say the names of those you're praying for.
- Regularly pray for one another with the laying on of hands, especially when someone is ill (Luke 4:40; Acts 8:17, 28:8b).
- Integrate prayer into your worship time. Spend time in thanksgiving, intercession, adoration, and confession.
- Designate prayer partners. One way to do this is to have each participant pray for the person on his or her right throughout the week. Ask everyone to touch base with the person he or she is praying for before the next meeting.
- 11. Share answers to prayer with your small group. This encourages those praying to continue to pray (Acts 4:23-31).
- Pray Scripture over a person or the entire small group. You could use Colossians 1:9-14 or Ephesians 3:14-19.
- Pray a psalm over a person or the small group. Commit an entire meeting to reading Psalm 119 together.
- Designate someone to be the prayer coordinator for your small group. As this person records requests and tracks answers, he or she will be empowered to lead and use his or her gifts to build up the body of Christ. The record of prayer requests will also be an encouragement to small-group participants as they see how God has been working in and through the group.
- Set aside a gathering to do a Bible study focused on prayer. Consider using Ephesians 6:10-20 or Colossians 1:9-14.
- Confess your shortcomings and pray for one another (1 John 1:9).
- Have each person write his or her prayer request on an index card. Then exchange cards. Each participant should pray for the person on the card he or she has.
- Fast and pray together. You could set aside a day to do this together, or you could choose to do this separately but at the same time. For instance, small-group members could agree to fast and pray over the lunch hour on Tuesday, wherever they're at.
- Encourage group participants to pray with their bodies. Have them stand with arms raised for praises and kneel for requests.
- Close each meeting in prayer.
—Reid Smith is the Community Life Pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and the founder of the 2orMore small-group leadership training and resource ministry. Copyright by the author. Used with permission.