One of the areas where most Christians struggle in their life the most is prayer. This is probably because a lot of us Christ followers are activists by nature. We like to do and we like to accomplish things, and sometimes prayer can feel sort of passive. The result is that we begin to develop weak prayer lives and a gnawing sense of guilt and inadequacy.
What’s true for us as individuals is also true for small groups. For instance, we wouldn’t think of starting or stopping a small group meeting without a prayer, and yet prayer tends to not have a meaningful place inside of our small groups.
One of the most important questions leaders should wrestle with is, “How do I raise the value of prayer inside my small group?” The short answer of this question is it has to start with you as a small group leader. Even though you may not feel like your prayer life is very strong, at the very least you have to care about this subject and try to raise the temperature of your own personal prayer life.
A good way to begin developing your own prayer life is by going through scripture and noticing those passages and verses that talk about the power of prayer. Another way to raise the value of prayer is by starting off your small group meeting with prayer, but instead of spending all of your time talking about the requests just jump right into prayer. You’ll find that the requests will come out as people begin to pray.
Another good thing to remember as the leader is that when you pray you set the pace for the rest of the group. You must be the one to model the simplicity and easy of a heartfelt prayer by using normal language. This encourages members to just talk to God conversationally and it allows them to see that prayer is accessible to any one. This helps them to see that they can talk to God just like they would a good friend.
If you haven’t noticed it yet, you’ll soon realize that your small group is one of the best places for people to learn how to pray and cultivate their own individual prayer lives. That’s because most of the time people do not learn how to pray at a Sunday morning worship service. What this means for you as a small group leader, especially if you’ve been a Christian for a long time, is that you need to be aware that there are some people in your group who are totally inexperienced and maybe even afraid of praying out loud in front of other people. In fact, statistics show that one of the top fears that people have is speaking in public.
So how can you help? You can begin by helping your group members take some baby steps if they are fearful. Assure them that one-sentence prayers are just as powerful as long prayers. You could even suggest that during one of your group meetings the members just go around the circle and share one word of thanksgiving and praise to God.
By being more attentive to your group members’ needs and by modeling your own lifestyle of prayer, it is possible to significantly raise the value of prayer in your group and even in your church.
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