But there are also several things you can do to help your group members feel more comfortable with group prayer. I teach my small-group leaders to use different kinds of prayers to help group members become more comfortable praying out loud over time. Try these ideas in order.
This is a great way to introduce a group to praying out loud together. The model is simple: the leader explains to the group that everyone will fill in the blank of a sentence prayer. This keeps the prayers simple and allows everyone to talk. Plus, it’s a great way to connect prayer to your study topic. For instance, if you’ve just done a study on celebration, guide the group with “God, I celebrate you because___.”
It’s important to let the group know the following guidelines:
- Keep it short and let everyone know there will be time later for longer, more specific prayers.
- Participating more than once is encouraged.
- It’s okay to repeat a word or thought someone else has already prayed.
Some examples could be:
God, you are ___.
God, thank you ___.
God, I love you because _____.
God, help me overcome my fear of ___.
The leader will go first to set the example. For instance, the leader may say, “God, you are forgiving.” Then group members can share their own sentences. When it’s time for the second one the leader will again go first. After you’ve gone through two or three sentence prayers, transition the group into a time of open prayer. Now is the time to pray for anything that may be on your heart or mind.
Prayer Request Cards
It’s common for groups to spend time taking prayer requests. Unfortunately many groups spend more time discussing those requests than actually praying. This method collects prayer requests yet keeps the focus on praying.
Provide notecards and pens for everyone to write down prayer requests. Be sure to let the group know that the prayer requests will be shared with the person on their left and potentially prayed for out loud. Remind group members to keep prayer requests focused on themselves or their immediate family members.
Once group members finish writing their requests, pass the notecards one person to the left. If you lead a co-ed group, it might be better to have group members pass to the next person on their left who is the same gender.
Next group members will pray silently or out loud for the cards they hold. The leader begins the prayer time by praying for the notecard he or she received. Once everyone has had a chance to pray, the leader will close the prayer time.
Group members take home the cards they received and pray throughout the week for the requests.
Teaspoon (T.S.P.) Prayer
The T.S.P. prayer method encourages everyone to share a Thanks, Sorry, and Please. The T.S.P. method creates an important yet often overlooked opportunity to tell God we’re sorry.
Pass out notecards and pens ensuring everyone has three cards. Ask group members to write one word on each card: Thanks, Sorry, and Please. Then turn over the cards and write a corresponding prayer for each. Let group members know ahead of time that cards will be shuffled and redistributed for prayer, so someone else will be reading what they wrote. They don’t need to write their name on the cards, though.
Once everyone is finished writing, collect the cards in three separate stacks: Thanks, Sorry, and Please. Shuffle or mix up each stack and pass out the cards. If group members receive one of their own cards, they can either keep it or exchange it. Then group members will take turns reading the card they received as a prayer. Read all the Thanks cards before continuing on to the Sorry cards, and all the Sorry cards before moving on to the Please cards. The leader can begin the time, and then close the time once everyone has gone.