Praying out loud in a group is very scary for many, no matter their background. But hearing someone pray for your deep concern is not only encouraging, it helps you leave it with the One who is able to help.
My neighbor, an atheist, was often the one in our Q Place group to remind us to pray. Once when we asked if we could pray for a concern she had, she said, "Well, why not? We're batting 1,000 so far!"
How do I know my group is ready for prayer?
Try asking! After your group gets off the ground, people will begin sharing more about their lives. Difficult circumstances they face will surface. This is a natural time to ask, "Would you mind if we pray about that?"
I was amazed that our neighborhood Q Place group wanted to share prayer requests right from the beginning. Not everyone was comfortable praying out loud in the group, but even if they weren’t, several offered to pray for each other daily.
How can we start?
Try one or more of these icebreakers when introducing prayer to your group:
- What was prayer like for you as a child?
- Few of us are comfortable praying aloud. What, if anything, has helped you overcome the discomfort of praying aloud?
- What would help you feel more comfortable about praying together in our group? (When I asked that question in my neighborhood Q Place group, they came up with many of the 5 tips below by themselves!)
5 Tips to Share with Your Group
Let's keep our prayers . . .
- Short. If we each pray in one or two sentences, then there will be time for all to pray.
- Simple. We don't need complicated phrases or a special prayer vocabulary or voice. (Be sure to model simple, short prayers yourself!)
- Specific. Let's pray specifically so we can tell when a prayer is answered. (Write requests down and remember to ask for updates.)
- Suitable. How can we pray for each other? (Those inside the group are the ones everyone knows and wants to support. If someone asks for prayer for people outside the group, follow their request with “How can we pray for you in this situation?)
- Safe. What is prayed for in our group, stays in our group! (Insist on confidentiality to encourage sharing.)
Why pray together?
Group prayer can be a faith encouraging, growth producing, and bonding experience! Asking God for specific things together and seeing him answer is powerful and exciting—and sparks trust in him. When I hear someone else praying for my specific need, my faith also increases.
The power of prayer has been evident to all in my Q Place group—including our two atheists! The sister of one of them asked to borrow some money. She said no to the loan, "but I'll ask my Bible group to pray for you, because things happen when these ladies pray!”
Our other atheist friend once exclaimed, “We could write a book about all the prayers God has answered in our group!”
When people work, people work; when people pray, God works.
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