- Ask God to empower your leaders to honor him with their lives. Pray for protection from temptation and for delivery from all kinds of evil.
- Pray for God's will to be done in bringing spiritual growth in your leaders.
- Ask God to grant your leaders forgiving spirits (small-group leaders often have more to forgive than others!)
For more on how to pray for your leaders, see "Keep Your Promise to Pray."
Pray for Your Small Groups
Paul's prayers for the churches make a great place to start praying for small groups—which, after all, are manifestations of the church. Consider these examples:
- Colossians 1:9-14: knowing God's will, spiritual wisdom and fruit, growth in knowledge of God, endurance, patience, joy, gratitude
- Ephesians 1:17-19: spiritual wisdom and revelation, knowledge of God and of their hope as believers
- Ephesians 3:14-21: spiritual power and faith, knowledge of Christ's love, being filled with God's fullness
These and other prayers of Paul can help us pray for our small groups. For more, see Praying Like Paul.
A major success factor in any small group is meaningful relationships. Here are a few ways to pray for relationships in your small groups:
- Pray for a spirit of grace and forgiveness among group members (James 1:19 and Matthew 6:12, 14-15).
- Pray for humility (Philippians 2:1-5).
- Ask God to protect the groups from grumbling and complaining spirits (Philippians 2:14-15).
- Ask God to create environments of encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
- Pray that God will reveal small-group members' spiritual gifts and create opportunities for those gifts to be used to honor him and serve the groups.
- Pray for appropriate levels of intimacy, accountability, and confidentiality.
- Ask God to lead new people into the right small groups, and pray for a spirit of acceptance and welcoming.
Finally, any training that we provide for leaders—whether on selecting Bible studies, developing relationships, identifying a mission for the group, or any other topic—should be an item of prayer for our groups and group leaders.
Create a Prayerful Environment
Because the small-group ministry depends wholly on God for bearing spiritual, creating a prayerful environment for our ministry may be the number one key to success. Our ministries, our leaders, and our groups must remain in the Vine if they are to bear fruit. One of the best ways to encourage this abiding is to create an environment of prayer.
Our leaders need to know that we're praying for them regularly. Prayer appointments with each small-group leader give our leaders the gift of our time and attention, and most importantly the gift of prayer. Depending on the structure of your ministry, it may be best to have coaches meet individually with leaders for prayer. You, then, should make a point to meet with each coach to pray individually.
Incorporating significant prayer times in our small-group leader training sessions will keep our focus on God's work and will also model the priority of prayer. Though prayer should be incorporated to all training sessions, it's also helpful to offer training on group prayer to help group leaders create prayerful environments in their groups. (A helpful resource is Together in Prayer.)
Make It a Group Effort
Over time, we'll come into situations where we find ourselves tiring of prayer. Moses ran into this situation interceding for Joshua and the Israelites in the battle with Amalek. Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses, literally holding his arms up in prayer when he became too tired. God responded to their prayer and granted victory in the battle (Exodus 17:8-13).