In small groups, members may need to be encouraged to share prayer requests. As people get to know each other, they will likely become more open to expressing their needs.
At that point another problem may occur. If your group grows and members like to relate every detail of their concerns, you could spend ten to fifteen minutes sharing prayer requests and only a minute or two actually praying. Sometimes God must wonder, Why don't they talk to Me?
To change the prayer direction from horizontal to an upward focus, you might want to try an experiment.
In your own words announce that you will not be sharing prayer requests with each other, but will take them directly to God. To avoid putting anyone on the spot, explain the procedure before calling for a response.
Ask those with special prayer requests to come forward. Ask for a volunteer to agree with each person who will take a need to God. Volunteers should stand facing their prayer-partners and join hands. If those with prayer requests pray in turn followed by the volunteer, you can avoid the long silences that often happen when prayer time is open.
Encourage expressions of praise for blessings received as well as petition for needs. Thank God in advance for handling the requests in His own way and in His own time.
If your group members like to record prayer requests as a guide to praying at home, you might write requests on the chalkboard. This can be done ahead of time as group members arrive. Encourage brevity—two or three words. Example: friend's salvation or son needs job.
If these suggestions would work with your group, prayer time may become more effective. A new method usually generates enthusiasm. Group members might even carry the focus of prayer instead of talk ...